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    The Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church


    Perspectives: Experiencing and Witnessing Racism

    Realizing racism at a stop light

    November 7, 2017 / By Anonymous / 1 Comment

    I am currently living in Canton, N.Y., and I am 67-years old. I grew up in Massachusetts, and there was one black girl in my high school of about 1,500 students. I liked her, and she seemed just like all the other kids.

    When I was a young woman, perhaps in my late 20s, I was traveling to a meeting in Albany in my car on a hot day. I didn’t have air conditioning, so my windows were open. Somehow, I found myself in a mostly deserted neighborhood where many buildings were boarded up. To this day, I have no idea how I managed to find this blighted area.

    As I stopped at a red light, I noticed a group of teens and young men hanging together on the corner to my right. Every one of them was black. Suddenly, I was very frightened and anxious. What if they saw me and hurt me?  What could I do?  What should I do?

    I sat there petrified, waiting for the light.

    Over the years, this incident has stayed with me, and I think of it often. Not one of those boys so much as glanced at me. I was perfectly safe the entire time. I also learned that any one of us can be racist. Not that we WANT to be, but because we find ourselves in a situation we don’t understand, then we make a bad decision that often hurts others, and we don’t even know it.

    I stayed there and waited for the light to change, when what I wanted to do was run the light and get away. Because I stayed, I learned a powerful lesson that has stayed close to my heart for all the years since:  don’t make assumptions about people when you really know nothing.

    My experience has left me humble and has made me think when I am among others who look, behave, or seem different. Did God influence me to stay?  Some will vehemently say “YES,” but I’m not sure. Maybe I stayed for my own reasons. How can I tell when or where it is God’s will or my own inclination? In my heart, I know I can’t tell the difference between where God is and where I am, but the results are the same.

    Comments 1

    Beautiful and honest sharing about your feelings.

    .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on November 9, 2017 at 10:05 am

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    With more than 168,000 members, the Upper New York Annual (Regional) Conference of The United Methodist Church comprises 867 local churches and 65 new faith communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our mission is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."