The Air We Breath

Yesterday was cold in Denver…really cold. My husband decided this would be a good time to go houseplanting shopping. He watched a TedTalk about how houseplants increase the amount of oxygen in buidings in Delhi. Since I wanted to spend time with my husband, I decided to simply go along for the ride.

We got to the greenhouse and were a bit dumbfounded. We have grown houseplants, but we really don’t put much thought into what we buy, mostly because most of our plants have been gifts. So we decided to ask for help. After all, the staff wasn’t busy because, remember, it was cold outside.

So we asked a lovely woman what is best to do with the plants once we have them. She told us which plants  let off the most oxygen. She told us which soil would be best to repot the plants in. She even told us the best fertilizer. She told us to clean out our pots with a hose first, and then to soak them in fertilizer in a bucket once a week until we see bubbles come to the top of the bucket. She was very helpful…

…the problem is that she did not listen when we told her we live in a high rise condo. She did not hear us tell her that we don’t have a garage, or that we don’t have access to a hose. And using a bucket the size she proposed was definitely out of the question.

It was not that this woman was malicious or purposefully didn’t listen to us. I don’t believe this at all.

No-I believe our experience is so different from hers, she simply did not register what we told her. When we have experiences that are so far off the path others have, it is difficult for others to understand. Our living arrangement is foreign for her, so she made the assumption that all families live in houses with yards and garages.

This made me think about all the chatter on Twitter and Facebook about the #Ferguson verdict. I have to say that I feel really badly that my friends of color feel hurt and angry about the white reaction to this verdict. I wish I could do more. But in reading their Twtter feeds and Facebook posts, it has helped me glimpse into their experience in a way I never could before social media. It has given me a perspective different than the one shared in purely public spaces; it has breathed new life into my own perspective to help me understand where my friends are coming from.

With social media at the forefront it seems like maybe, just maybe, if we (white people) listen to what is being said, we might come to understand the perspectives and experiences shared with us. My hope is that this will help all of us understand one another in a deeper way.

Social media offers a chance to deepen conversations about race. I hope that we actually listen to one another. Even though we come from different experiences depending on our race, if we listen to what one another has to say, maybe we can heal together.