“Are You the Kwanzaa Lady?”

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I hurt someone’s feelings Thursday night at Sister Night. I apologized, sincerely, but it wasn’t enough to repair the harm I’d done. I’d take it back if I could, but of course I can’t.

About three-quarters through the show, a Sister came to me and said a lady up front wanted to speak to those in attendance about Kwanzaa. I introduced the next number, then flitted off to find the lady. At the front of the bar there were three African Americans, a woman and two men. I looked at the woman and asked, “Are you the Kwanzaa lady?”

She looked at me, aghast, and asked, “Am I the what?”

I immediately tried to explain, apologize, but the three of them left. I don’t know if they were on their way out or if they’d just gotten there. I followed. She kept walking. The two men stayed for a conversation of sorts.

I tried to explain further. One of the men was more open to whatever I was saying, the other man—it wouldn’t have mattered what I said. During the time we were on the sidewalk, the woman drove by, rolled down her window, and slowed down enough to yell through it, “It’s okay.”

What I did was wrong. Please don’t reply with comments that attempt to justify my actions; I will delete them.

I’ve replayed this situation a dozen times in my head and the only thing I could have done differently was to have ask from the stage, “Would the person who wants to talk about Kwanzaa come on up?”

We live in a time (and should have always lived in a time) when our words matter a great deal. Racial, religious, sexual orientation, you name it, tensions are high. In the space of a moment we can hurt or heal with words. We can tear down or we can build up. We can cause people to feel bad or to feel good.

My prayer is that I will choose more wisely next time, and for grace when I fail.

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4 thoughts on ““Are You the Kwanzaa Lady?”

  1. I’ve had these moments, too. The most maddening thing about them is that, in hind-sight, of COURSE we shouldn’t have said what we said as we said it — or done what we did as we did it. It seems really obvious, and we self-flagellate. Or, I do. You misstepped–misspoke–but you DO have the grace to recognize and try to mend the moment. You tried. Sometimes that’s the best we can do, and you did.

    And, your self-awareness does mean that you will not repeat this particular mistake. We’re human, and we make mistakes. If we’re good humans, we learn from them, too. And you seem a good human.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I too want to chime in I felt a pained empathy for I too feel very contrite when I said something that hurt the feelings of another. All we can do is apologize, ask what can be done to heal wounds, and learn from the experience – and persevere.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “I don’t know if I continue, even today, always liking myself. But what I learned to do many years ago was to forgive myself. It is very important for every human being to forgive herself or himself because if you live, you will make mistakes- it is inevitable. But once you do and you see the mistake, then you forgive yourself and say, ‘Well, if I’d known better I’d have done better,’ that’s all. So you say to people who you think you may have injured, ‘I’m sorry,’ and then you say to yourself, ‘I’m sorry.’ If we all hold on to the mistake, we can’t see our own glory in the mirror because we have the mistake between our faces and the mirror; we can’t see what we’re capable of being. You can ask forgiveness of others, but in the end the real forgiveness is in one’s own self. Maya Angelou

    Liked by 1 person

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