Listen, Before You Speak
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I bet you thought this was about being a victim; however, this is not one of those articles.

"Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry"- James 1:19

My name is Shelbbie and I was born and raised in Pascagoula, Mississippi. First off let me say that I love Mississippi. It is my home, and it holds some people with the biggest hearts I've ever met. As far as racism though, I will say Mississippi still has a lot of it in its roots. Growing up, I felt as if I was the only kid who questioned how things were. Where I am from, one city was almost two different worlds as far as African Americans and Caucasian people. I remember being at lunch and wondering why we didn't all sit together, why we seem so divided. Though it wasn't voiced, I can remember feeling as if there was a hidden line that blacks and whites didn't cross over. That line was pretty much having any relationship bigger than an acquaintance. I can't lie and say growing up that I didn't experience any discrimination against other races. I grew up in a city where hearing the "N word" was something normal. At the same time, there were a lot of African Americans that were, yes, just as racist toward white people. It seems to be a never-ending battle of hate. Even as a child, I really didn't understand the racism I've experienced. Growing up, when I heard derogatory terms, it hurt my feelings but I was to afraid to speak up. As I grew older, I became a little bolder, and I realized my hurt feelings were turning into anger. When I got defensive, I spoke with this anger, causing quite a few arguments, even with my friends. In the 10th grade, I moved to Texas and attended high school there, where I learned a lot of the racism in that state was towards Hispanics — racism all in the same, but a different race. This just added to the anger growing in my heart. This led me to the question, why are we humans so hateful to each other, because of physical differences?

In the year 2013, I graduated from Texas, and moved to Conway Arkansas to attend Central Baptist College. Here, I tried out for choir and ended up meeting the man I am now engaged to, and yes he is African American. We had a rough start, and for a while tried to not engage in a relationship. We talked for several months, both of us being to afraid to take it any further. Eventually, we knew that God wanted us to be together. We began to date and we both told our families.

My family lives right in the middle of Mississippi. I am not going to lie and say that this was an easy journey for my family. They grew up in a different world. They were taught differently and they definitely live around some people that are not okay with our relationship. I don't think my family ever pictured me with a black man, but I don't think they ever really thought about it. Ultimately, my family believes that if the man is Godly and treats me right, then that is enough for them. In the past I've dated a few guys that didn't exactly fit that role. When my family met Darius it only took a few lunch dates before we felt completely comfortable around each other. They could see God in him, something that they hadn't seen in the other men I've dated. Soon we got engaged, with my fathers permission.

I've been truly blessed for things to go as smoothly as they have, but one problem I did find was trying to bring Darius home with me. Though my family was on board, we weren't so sure about the people living around them. At this point I had been dating Darius for two years, and my patience was growing thin. We weren't engaged yet, but we were trying very hard to be. I remember calling my family and asking if Darius could come home with me, and being told that now wasn't the greatest time because unfortunately there were people that was trying to cause some trouble. At this point, all that anger I had built up just exploded out of me. I remember being so impossibly angry, saying that it shouldn't matter what they think, that these "Christians" can not show me biblically where its wrong. This continued for a few minutes, till the point I was so upset I had to hang up and take a chill pill. I remember praying "God if this is meant to be show me how, help me to understand this." Instantly, a different mindset popped into my head. It almost as if God was saying to me, are you blind? Do you not see all the changes people have made? I started thinking of all the people that love me, and how they almost completely changed their beliefs because of Darius and mines relationship. I realized that through this struggle, walls of discrimination people had grew up with and had all their lives, were being torn down. My heart of anger melted into a heart of understanding. Earlier, I mentioned the questioned I wondered, about why people are so hateful because of physical differences. I think that racism goes so much deeper then just physical differences. I mentioned that it seems to be a never ending battle of hate, and now I can understand why. Just as quick as I was to react with hate and anger to those I thought was wrong, racism works the same way. In a racist situation, each person has grown up in world being taught that this is right and this is wrong. Nine times out of ten they do not actually have a reason for what they believe, they just think they are right because they've been told they are right. We are so quick to stand up and defend the reason we think we are right, or why someone else is wrong.

What I leave you with is a challenge, to be slow to speak and slow to become angry. Instead of automatically being on the defensive side, take a moment to consider why that person believes what they believe. Try to understand it from their point of view. A lot of the riots and protests I see today, are all fueled with anger because one group thinks they are right and wont have it is someone thinks differently. So what do I do if I'm holding hands with my boyfriend in public, and I get a nasty look ? I smile, and ask them how they are. If we truly want to eradicate the racism in this world, we have to understand each other. We have to learn to respect each other, and love each other. We have to listen, before we speak.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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