You may be blind but you shall still see

The letter in the block quote appeared in the Providence Journal today, Tuesday the 27th of May, 2008.

Mr. Dorian has written a very interesting letter in which he discovers his own latent racism. That’s the thing about we humans. For some reason we automatically fear those whom we don’t know, or at least some do.

I’ve re-edited this because I had such an incident today. I was carrying groceries home from the supermarket (It’s less than a mile away) but a young Latino guy asked if I needed any help. I thanked him and told him I only had a short way to go. He was very polite too. It restores my faith in humanity when things like this happen.

But the message that one should never judge a book simply by it’s cover sunk in fairly early with me. It honestly doesn’t phase me what color your skin is, what really matters to me is that you’re a decent person. Luckily Mr. Dorian has found this out. I really don’t have much else to say because Dorian has written an account that should re-affirm ones faith in humanity.

Edward Oscar Dorian: Losing my blindness

01:00 AM EDT on Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The other week I had an accident that caused me to discover something about “those people” in Kennedy Plaza and, more significantly, to learn a great deal about myself.

After many years away, I’ve recently returned to my native Rhode Island, where in the 1930s and ’40s, when I was a boy, the small, formal, park-like area then in front of City Hall in downtown Providence was seldom used.

Wow, what a change! I, now forced — because of diminished eyesight— to use bus transportation, found the crowded Kennedy Plaza area alien, bewildering and, to be honest, frightening. That is, until the other week when, while hurrying across the plaza, scrupulously avoiding contact with those “threatening” groups of fellows in weird clothes, loud language and of different skin color, I fell!

Instantly I was surrounded, and dark arms reached down offering help. I instinctively refused, but age and pain made rising difficult. Ignoring my repeated, rude refusals, the fellows gently lifted me, all the while expressing genuine concern. One fellow retrieved my glasses and, instead of handing them to me, carefully fitted them to my head. Another attentively recovered and returned my briefcase and its spilled contents. Expressing inadequate gratitude, I hobbled away; they called after me several times, “Are you sure you’re okay?”

Only later did I realize that I had not been okay for a long time. Based on little more than clothing and color, I had been stupidly judgmental. Obviously, more than my eyesight had been faulty. My ugly stereotypes had blinded me to the inherent caring, generosity and courtesy in others.

The fall I took in Kennedy Plaza the other week was a valuable learning experience I shall never forget, and for which I’m grateful.



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