People Are Not Always What They Seem - But They Are All People

A few years back, we were getting our Global Entry cards (remember travel?). Since Beatrix was about 9, she could not go on her own to her interview, so I went with her (which had a bonus of letting me get mine done at the same time.).

The officer interviewing us was a perfectly nice, Latinx man who spent some time explaining the privilege inherent in a GE card. He told her that if she were to do something wrong, like steal or drive drunk or something (again, age 9, so hopefully not soon thereafter), that she would lose the card. She listened attentively, with her trademark big eyes.

"But," he said, "I'm sure you would not do something you would get arrested for, right?"

"No," she responded. Pause. "Unless it was something I really believe in."

"And what kind of thing would that be?" he asked.

"Like protesting. (pause). Like for Philando Castile."

The officer took a beat. Then he pushed aside his papers and looked at her. "When I was your age," he said "Everyone at my school looked like you. No one had hair and skin like mine. So I don't know that it's about race."

She looked back at him, with a glance that was half impetuous and half clearly sorry that he was saying such stupid things. "I'm half Black." 

(which he should have known, her info screen was right in front of him).

And he took another pause, and firmly stamped her paperwork approved, and passed it across the desk to us.


I may have written about that moment before; I think of it a lot. About how the person who had the power in the room was so wrapped up in how things *should* be that he had to be schooled by a 9-year-old girl how they *actually* are.

And how everyone in that room that day had a moment to thing about how things can seem so very different depending on where you are coming from, and maybe even to take a step back and at the very least acknowledge what that means. You don't have to agree with it, but knowing it can make all the difference in the world.


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