SUSPICIONS AND STEREOTYPES
By Jill Levy: I live in a very diverse neighborhood.
Lately, for a few days in a row, there had been a couple of African American guys walking slowly down my street and then back again. The older one, maybe about 18, had dreads, wore a flat brim hat to the side, and expensive sneakers. The younger one, 16ish, seemed a little aloof and lagged behind.
They didn't look related, and "the leader" was always looking behind his back and to the sides. Every once in a while, he'd whisper to the younger one, and then they'd pick up their pace.
After about the third day I started to get suspicious. I didn't know what they were doing, but it didn't seem right. So finally, one day as they turned around to head back, I called out,
"Hey guys.... ya bored?"
I said it playfully, but really wanted to know what they were doing. The elder one looked at me and said,
"Nah... He's autistic so I take him out every day to get exercise."
I'd consider myself the last person to stereotype or judge, so the situation made me wonder how often i do this without realizing it. Obviously, I am a Person of the Second Chance. Maybe fifth chance. Maybe more. My mistake was embarrassing, but it was also eye-opening in what it revealed. I'm thankful for the second chances, and thankful that I can learn from situations like this.
What situations make you thankful for your second chances?