My parents raised us to respect all people, cultures, and religious beliefs. It didn’t matter who the person was, what their life circumstances dealt them, or what they believed; we were taught to treat them with dignity. DIGNITY! That could be as simple as bidding someone the time of the day, using ‘Yes mam, Yes sir’ when speaking to an adult or being ready to lend a helping hand. I’ve tried to take this value with me everywhere I go.
I guess that’s why the response, “I DON’T SPEAK TO PEOPLE LIKE YOU’ threw me a curveball as I was making my way through the streets of Belize City trying to get to my afternoon class at Saint John’s Junior College. It was a normal school day like all the others and my mind was thinking about the calculus test I had to take and how unprepared I felt for it. I was coming up to the pedestrian crossing and a lady in her early thirties passed. I said “good afternoon mam!” as I made my way to the ramp and she was coming off. She kept her head straight and said back to me, “ I don’t speak to people like you.”
“Hmm, people like you…” I couldn’t get that phrase out of my mind. This was my second year in college and as a young 19-year-old; coming from a small community like Dangriga, Belize City was a biiigggg adjustment for me. People Like Me! I’m black, she’s black… It can’t be that. I’m Belizean, she’s Belizean, can’t be that either… maybe I’m not dressed right, but wait, I have on my Sunday best. Hmm, can’t be that either. Maybe it’s because I said ‘Good afternoon mam!” maybe she’s not used to manners. These were the questions going through my head as I continued to walk.
To this day, I don’t know what that lady meant but since that day, I’ve come to realize there will always be someone trying to stereotype you, question your choices, and ultimately box you into their opinion of who they believe you should be and how you should act. The question is, will you give them that power? Will you listen to their voices? Or will you rise up and be who God created you to be… A son & daughter of royalty and dignity.
TO SUM UP
- Treat People with DIGNITY
- Don’t let others’ opinions of you box you in.
- Remember who you are and let God’s opinion of you define your reality.