I have been sitting with something for about a week now. A friend of mine posted an article that addresses the experience of racial discrimination in our country, and the need to understand the legacy that slavery had on the American people, and continuation of institutions that supports discrimination in various forms. Another individual placed a comment that read something to this effect. "I am tired of having Black people try to teach White people about racism. White people aren't stupid, they understand, but just don't care."
My immediate response was a bit of sadness and anger. I may have even said a few choice explitives as well. First of all, I believe that if you don't really care to hear the experience from others, and are resistent to hearing a viewpoint that is different than yours, then no, you don't really understand. Secondly, who else will you learn from? If you want to truly understand what racism and discrimination feels like for someone who is of a different background than your own, you better really listen well. And not just listen to one person, but to many!
Buddha encouraged us to learn to be aware and awake in our lives, not to close off and dismiss, and to meet the world from a place of love and compassion. Jesus also is credited with an invitation to love those whom we find difference with, and expresses that love extended to others will conquer evils in the world.
My invitation to all is to not get caught up in what you think you know about another person's experience. Extend your compassionate ear and listen. Listen for understanding. This cannot come from a place of defensive explanation, but rather from a point of connecting to the other person's experience. If you have no tolerence for learning from others, you will learn much less.
May the world be filled with greater understanding and growth for all beings!