Race based hurt

parkers piece bus luton

Last night, I got back to Cambridge after a bus ride from Luton. After exiting the bus, with a suitcase and a huge bag, I stood for a moment looking around…scanning the area. I was looking for a taxi. A tall, white man stopped, smiled and asked me in the kindest of ways, with an English accent, “Do you know where you’re going?”. I smiled back and replied, “Thanks, yes, I know”. He then laughed a little, smiled again and said, “Alright, Cheers!!”. He then went on his way, pulling his suitcase behind him. I smiled to myself for a short while, and I thought to myself too after coming to a realisation…. because up until that moment, I didn’t know that I was carrying around a chip on my shoulder.
It’s a two year old chip, hurt, pain. When I first got to Cambridge two years ago, another tall, white guy completely ignored my parents and I as we asked for directions. It was during the day time, as we stood on a corner waiting for the street light to change so that we could cross. He wouldn’t even look at us, and I felt invisible, slighted and hurt. Since then, I had received help from various other white people during the daytime, but it was unpredictable. However, when I tried to stop folks to ask for direction in the nighttime, I was ignored… always ignored or brushed off as far as I can recall— unless the person I asked wasn’t white. So, I started discriminating in who I asked for help. Thing is, I know that I can’t judge all white people based on those encounters. I know that it’s a broad, damaging and dangerous generalization to think ‘white folks in England won’t help you out with directions in the nighttime’. Knowing that that was a harmful generalization that was almost certainly untrue, I didn’t believe that I was carrying around any particular hurt. But when that man stopped last night, and offered to help, I felt the strangest feeling…. I felt as though a weight was lifted, as though he righted all the little hurts I’d been carrying around. Little hurts that I didn’t even know I was still holding on to. He’ll never know how big a moment stopping to help then was for me, both in coming to self-awareness and in personal growth…. but it was, and I’m grateful that his helpfulness allowed me to heal and to align my emotions with what I knew to be true.

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