Hey everyone, when I decided to do this #MJconsistencychallenge, I wasn’t sure what topics I wanted to discuss. Well, today I want to get real about the obstacles that we face in our lives. We’ve all heard the saying, “never judge a book by its cover”; so why do we continue to have preconceived notions when it comes to those who don’t look like us, worship like us, or live life as we do
In 1983, I was born with a rare heart condition called Truncus Arteriouses. If you have no clue what that means, look it up. Because of this rare condition, I had to have two open-heart surgeries as a baby and one as an adult. To the ordinary person, I look pretty healthy. Unfortunately, unlike the average person, I cannot run, I’m unable to walk long distances without being short of breath. I have to run my exercise regimen through my cardiologist, unable to ride the fun rollercoasters and to add insult to injury lost enough kids before my eldest due to this onset condition.
Due to my onset condition, my cardiologist provided me with a handicap placard. For those of you who have no clue as to what I look like, I’m a 5’2″, 135lb, African-American woman who could probably pass for a high schooler or at least a 23-year-old.
Around the age of 9 maybe 10, I questioned why people would park in a handicap spot that was not in a wheelchair. Let’s be honest the picture depicted a person in a wheelchair. I recall asking my mother why someone parked in a handicap spot as they did not look handicap? My mother looked at me, and as the typical Black mother said, Dummy, you were born with a disability, and one day you will need a handicap placard. Talk about a reality check!
Unfortunately, my mom was right, I had to get a handicap placard. I was a young, vibrant twenty-something-year-old at that time who was not able to dance, workout, or walk a mile without feeling tired. It was devastating for me because I could run faster than the boys on the block growing up, I danced, and I loved playing basketball. It was by far, one of the worst things my doctor could have taken from me, my livelihood.
One day I parked at a Walmart handicap spot. While on the phone with my mother, a “Karen” started yelling and screaming at me. She kept calling me a phony, a fake and that I should know better than to park in a parking spot when I wasn’t disabled. This woman was making false accusations about a person she never met. I wish I could say this was the only time being accused of faking a disability, but sadly, there are a lot of “Karen’s” and her brother “Steve’ in the world.
When I think about my unfortunate encounters, I think of the many black men and women who have lost their lives to people not minding their own DAMN business. The reality, I never seem to get slack for parking in a handicap from any other race. I’ve been stared at, yelled at, and treated like I was worth nothing from white men and women because, for some reason, my business has all of a sudden become their business.
Although I have endured racial tensions, I’m blessed to be alive. As hard as it is, I have realized I need to give grace to these small-minded and relatively ignorant individuals. I’m learning to give grace to people, not for them, but forgiveness for myself. It’s ridiculous in the year 2020, we don’t know how to remain silent, and mind our own damn business.
I know it’s not idle, but today give grace to someone. Try to give grace to the person who hurt you most, whether it’s a stranger or someone you know, provide forgiveness. When you forgive others, God forgives you. Forgiveness is the hardest thing to do, but let go, let God and give grace to others, including you.