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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

At the Gym

This may seem like such a minor thing, but I was at the gym yesterday doing my workout and as I was sitting there pondering if I really wanted to workout, this guy came up to me out of the blue and shook my hand. I didn't know him, but he shook my hand anyway. I began to laugh because I figured he must have mistaken me for another Black man he knew. I laughed some more and thought about how passively racist this event is. I didn't get angry, just amused. "Poor Poland", I said to myself. "They don't really get to meet many Black people, so it's alright".

Just then, another guy came in and sho-ok my hand.

A few minutes later, a third shook my hand.

Then it hit me. I am the one thinking the racist thoughts.

Growing up in America, my mind has been trained to hold onto the unconscious thought that whites are inherently racist. This is an unfair assumption of course, but nonetheless, it is within me. I have many friends who are the same way. The election of Obama is changing many things slowly. A Black man as President of the US creates a pure thought that will definitely grow (particularly with our youth) with unknown and beautiful possibilities. However, I must start with "the man in the mirror". It starts with me. I have to change my thinking patterns so that they are projected to all that I meet.

Thank you "gym guys" for forcing me to look in the mirror of my mind.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, going to the gym is a little different here. At home we pretty much keep to ourselves in the gym. But I discovered that in Poland, in contrast to the relatively private/reserved behaviour on the street, in public transport, etc., the standard protocol is to exchange a polite greeting with your fellow gym users. I was surprised at first, but I think it's good form.