We've all met people who we are certain that we will not like or get along with - based on the clothes they are wearing, how much they remind us of someone else we had a bad experience with, etc. And as women of color, we have stereotypes thrust upon us regularly.
"Grace Makes Room For Space" was one of the most popular articles on our blog from 2016. It speaks to the need for us to not judge a book by its cover, and to allow for the space for others to surprise us.
For those of you who may have missed it, we're republishing it today.
By: Minda Harts, Founder, The Memo
When I jumped into the back of the Uber a few weeks ago, I noticed my driver had on an “Italian t-shirt.” My mother coined this phrase because she hates the word “wife beater.” (She’s so cute.) Somehow, I knew I would be annoyed with this gentleman before I even put my seatbelt on. I was right: he ended up going in a circle twice before getting on the freeway. I took a deep breath and said "Let's use my GPS."
Fast forward 35 minutes later, and we’d become fast friends. We spoke about everything in that time, and I learned more about this man in the “Italian tee shirt.” Who knew!
I was reminded that oftentimes, we judge a book by its cover, and don't give people space to be themselves, without judgment.
Years ago, after I received my first bonus check, I’d wanted to treat myself to a nice piece of jewelry. Up until that point, I’d still been buying all my jewelry at Claire’s. Not this time. This time, I decided that I would go to the best place in town. I had been in that store for 15 minutes and no one offered to help me. It wasn’t until after I left that I realized why. When I walked in, my eyes settled on a beautiful diamond necklace. I signaled for help because I’d found “the one.” The saleswoman came over, and before I could get anything out of my mouth, she said "Why don't I show you the jewelry in this [other] case, it might be more your speed." I walked over to the case. There were three things in the case, and everything was on sale price. Ding, Ding, Ding! It hit me: this lady assumed I could only afford the pendants in the sale case. I stood in shock for about 10 seconds. I wanted to scream out, “I make more money than all of you combined!” (This was the much younger me.) This was one of those Dave Chapelle moments, when keeping it real goes wrong.
I picked my mouth up off the floor and told her that due to the poor customer service I was taking my business to Zales. A hundred years later, I haven't forgotten how that day made me feel. Two different situations with varied outcomes.
One of the biggest self improvement points that I continue to iron out is not to harbor any prejudices and/or ignorant ideologies towards others. For most of my career, I have lived out of a suitcase traveling city to city for my job. Some of my best relationships were formed on planes or eating dinner solo at the restaurant bar. I learn so much when I give others space to be themselves and when they give me space to do the same.
There is so much hate being poured out into the world, that I want to try and let my light shine whenever possible. Let's put aside our preconceived notions about others because of who we think they are. Let’s see people for more than their gender, race, sexual orientation, or religious beliefs. Guess what...That is someone's son, daughter, brother, or sister. As you move into this new week, resolve to extend yourself to someone who looks different. Give someone space and grace to have a different point of view.
I am happy I gave my Uber driver space and grace. In turn, I got the opportunity to learn from a man in an “Italian t-shirt,” and he got to learn from a woman in a Memo t-shirt. And, last but not least, that jewelry store is out of business.