I’ve been hurt by racism, too.
My experiences might have been different from yours.
But they are valid, too.
I didn’t understand why people made me feel bad about my new friend.
I almost ran away to at least have an opportunity to explore
the connection I had with a boy from a higher class than mine.
Yet he chose not to challenge the friends who thought he was a traitor
because of my skin color,
which I can’t change, either.
I’m still angry that my friends were held at the door until the bouncer saw me;
and that my classmates have been harassed, assaulted, stabbed, and shot
because of how they look
to someone with every capacity to overcome
the beliefs they blindly adopted
and even the ones that seem supported by evidence.
I’m just as hurt and scared
when my loved ones challenge me with prejudices that sometimes sound like facts.
I question myself, too.
Am I a traitor?
Am I a fool?
Will I be assaulted again
because I look to some like a white bitch
who deserves it?
How is my voice less valid
because of people I didn’t know
and with whom I might only share
a skin tone?
Does your oppression of me
or correct the past?
If so, I can be silent in your presence,
even when I want to show unity
that you might not want.
I understand the lack of trust.
It’s hard for me to trust people, too.
Yet this world is hard and lonely enough.
Can we take the risk,
and see what difference we can make?
Can we be the example of what’s possible?
Or shall we perpetuate the cycle
that had our ancestors destroyed,
perhaps in different ways,
or maybe the same?
Nance L. Schick, Esq. is a New York City attorney and mediator who focuses on keeping people out of court and building their conflict resolution skills, especially in business and employment disputes. Her holistic, integrative approach to conflict resolution draws from her experience as a crime victim, human resources supervisor, minor league sports agent, and United Nations representative. She is a 2001 graduate of the State University of New York Buffalo Law School trained in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and International Center for Ethno-Religious Mediation (ICERM). She is also creator of the Third Ear Conflict Resolution process, author of DIY Conflict Resolution: Seven Choices and Five Actions of a Master, and an award-winning entrepreneur, who has been acknowledged by the New York Economic Development Corporation/B-Labs (Finalist, Best for NYC 2015 & 2016), U.S. Chamber of Commerce (2015 Blue Ribbon Small Business), Enterprising Women Magazine (Honorable Mention, 2014 Woman of the Year awards), and Urban Rebound NY/Count Me In (Finalist, 2013 Pitch Competition).