Reconciling Race Through Love
Words matter. And words matter because words are everything from prayers to a declaration of intention. Not only does words matter, so does the intention of our heart.
I had a very special plane ride into Dallas, Texas this morning and it started with words. I prayed the same prayer I pray every time I'm about to board an aircraft: "God, please sit me next to someone with good energy."
The flight started off with me sitting next to a middle age white male who was kind and conversational. He was accompanied by his 6 year old daughter, Lilly, who was initially sleepy and trying to get into a comfortable position to go sleep.
Somehow, after a little while of talking to Lilly's dad, Lilly was no longer sleepy. In fact, I don't know if she thought me and her dad were having too much fun talking without her or not, but she asked her dad if she could switch seats with him so that she could sit next to me. Once in the seat next to me, Lilly proved to be as much of a conversationalist as her dad. We also played hand games that she taught me. We colored. (Pictured is the picture I colored with a message from Lilly and her dad.) We had a tickling match where she tried to find my most ticklish spot. We talked about Lilly's on and off relationship with her best friend, Zoey; and how they get mad at each other a lot because they both are "bossy and like to have their way". (Lilly reminded me so much of my granddaughter, Kylie!)
The best part of the conversation, though, was when Lilly was coloring in the complexion of the characters on her page of the coloring book. We were only working with about six basic colors. It didn't take long for Lilly to notice that if she colored very lightly with the orange crayon she could create a close match to her complexion. It also didn't take long for her to notice that none of the six basic colors we had represented my brown complexion. To this revelation, Lilly said, "It really doesn't matter if I'm orange or you're brown because we're all the same. We're not different." Following Lilly's comment she put her arms around my neck and gave me a big hug.
Filling with emotion . . . again, let me tell you why Lilly's comments and my time with Lilly as well as with her father blessed me so much. One, my experience was the embodiment of my words made manifest; my prayer coming to light. Two, my experience was a reminder that beautiful surprises await us every single day--if we are open and present to them. Three, my experience reemphasized for me that racism, like kindness is a choice. Four, my experience was God's way of restoring my hope in humanity; something I desperately needed.
You see, as a Black woman, it has been extremely difficult taking in all of the ways some white people have been following the lead of Donald Trump's divisive and racist nature. It's been disheartening to see that as it pertains to skin color and value placed on one set of human beings versus another set of human beings, in some ways we've made progress, but in other ways we have not. This troubles me deeply. Yet, today came. Lilly sat next to me and it was as if God said, "See Mischa, there is hope. Being kind and loving for the sake of being kind and loving is not doomed."
After leaving the aircraft, me and Lilly and her dad walked the same way through the airport to get to ground transportation. When the time had come for us to go our separate ways, Lilly gave me another big hug and so did her dad. In return, I gave Lilly one of my gratitude stones, which she promised to not lose it and to use as a reminder to always say what she's grateful for. Before departing, Lilly put her stone in between both hands, closed her eyes, and said, "I'm grateful we sat next to each other on the airplane today."
I am better and my heart is full as I write this blog, not just because of the words I uttered this morning boarding the plane, but because I had the presence of mind to lean into a moment made divine as a result of three people seeing the beauty in one another. Do me a favor? Seek to create and participate in divine moments. Avail yourself. See people. Engage with people. Find a human connecting point and let love have its way. I never learned Lilly's dad's name, but I will never ever forget Lilly from Austin, Texas and the gift she was to me on April 26, 2018 at the tender age of 6 years old. I love you with my whole heart. Until next week . . . be well and do well.