Knowing and Understanding

knowing-understanding

I know that I will never truly know
What it is to experience this world as anything other than
Female
White
Cis-gender
Heterosexual
And Christian
In a society that values those identities above all others
Or at least 4 out of 5 of those identities
But 1 “wrong” identity is better than 2
It’s the difference between displaying a B or a D on the report card of life

I do know
What it’s like to be told I’m not enough because I’m a woman
To be told I’m too much because I don’t act like a woman should
To be scared of dark streets and public transportation
To be informed my value lies in wifehood and motherhood
To be advised my body and my emotions are a liability

But at the same time

I also know that I will never truly know
What it’s like to live in the “wrong” color skin
To be seen as a threat because of it
To be considered worth less or even worthless because of it
To be consigned to forgotten neighborhoods and schools because of it
To be sentenced more harshly and lose my citizenship because of it

I know that I will never truly know
What it’s like to feel trapped in the wrong gender
To consider ending my life because of it
To find freedom in a transition only to be ridiculed for it
To be denied access to public bathrooms because of it
To face physical threat because of it

I know that I will never truly know
What it’s like to be told I cannot love the one whom my soul desires
To pretend we’re just roommates because of it
To endure stares and cold shoulders and whispers because of it
To be denied service because of it
To be kicked out of the house because of it

I know that I will never truly know
What it’s like to be told my faith is unacceptable
To be called a terrorist because of it
To be refused entrance to this country because of it
To be followed and watched and forced to report because of it
To be threatened with internment because of it

I know that I will never truly know
But I will do my best to understand the best I can

I will listen to the voices of those who experience
Life differently than I do
I will hear what they have to say
And I will hear the pain within it
The fear within it
The hope within it

I will enter new spaces
The tangible spaces of home and church
The intangible spaces of word and image and note

I will stay on the margins by choice
And be led by those who have been pushed to the edges
I will observe and absorb and learn

But I won’t stop there

Because my understanding means nothing
If it doesn’t change me
If it doesn’t move me to action

So I will use my understanding to help change the world
To leave it better than I found it
By amplifying those voices I’ve listened to
By sharing what I’ve learned with those who
Don’t yet understand
By inviting them into these new spaces
To stay on the margins
To be led by those who have been pushed to the edges
To observe and absorb and learn
So they, too, can use their understanding to help change the world

 

photo credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center on Flickr

About Katie Mumper

Writer. Teacher. Lover of Jesus, music, books.
This entry was posted in Blog. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Knowing and Understanding

  1. Thank you so much for this beautiful message. It’s easy to feel apathedic in my priviledge and wonder what I could possibly do to make a difference. Thank you for your wise words of compassion and change.

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