Since Anthony and I have been having weekly dates since June of 2016 we have an eclectic mix of dates in our collection. Some dates stick with you long after they’re over. I started the blog in December of 2016, so all of our dates aren’t housed on the blog. Therefore, I wanted to share a #TBT with you because it still sticks with me.
In August of 2016 Anthony and I took a trip to Toronto. I was so elated, because I’ve been obsessed with Canada since I was in elementary school. One year I even told my teacher and classmates I moved to Tennessee from Canada. My plan was foiled when some of my softball teammates asked my mom, and she told them we moved from Kentucky. Hey, a girl can dream can’t she lol. So, the Toronto trip was EVERYTHING for me!!! I was in my “home and native land” (a line from the Canadian National Anthem).
Even when Anthony and I are on trips we still have our weekly dates. The week of the trip was my week to select our date, so I planned for us to go to the CN Tower. We got there and just like the rest of the time we were in Canada I was on Cloud 9. We stood in line for at least an hour, and then we finally made it. We paid a little extra to go all the way to the top. As we’re waiting on elevator to take us to the top I noticed a man of Middle Eastern decent. He had on a backpack and was fiddling with a camera. I immediately got scared. I thought I’ve wanted to visit Canada since I was a little kid, and now that I’m here I’m going to get blown up in the CN Tower by this random guy. Crazy thing is I’m a VERY liberal person! One of those people who believes in love in its purest sense and breathes fairness and justice, but waiting on that elevator all that went out of the window, and I was scared.
Thankfully, God blessed me with the gift of gab, and I started talking to the guy. He was very friendly. He said he was excited to use his camera to get some great shots of the city. After speaking to him my nerves settled a bit, and I thought Sheena you’re an idiot this man is here to explore just like you. We bumped into him a couple of times on the site seeing deck and one time I stopped and asked if he was getting some great shots. He said yes and then asked if I’d use his camera to take a picture of him. He then asked if Anthony and I wanted a picture together. Unfortunately, I don’t remember his name, but him and that moment will stick with me forever.
Two months later in October I was still thinking about that experience and decided to turn it into a date. I wrote a letter about my ignorance and discrimination towards the man in Toronto and took it to an Islamic Center. Before you ask, no I don’t know if the man in Toronto was a Muslim. I do know that my discrimination during that situation in Toronto was because I looked at him and assumed he was, therefore I took the letter to an Islamic Center. I was embarrassed by my actions, but I can only use it as a learning experience. I saw a man outside of the Islamic Center and introduced myself. He said his name was Nile. I told him about the Toronto trip and apologized for my actions. I handed him a letter I had written and also $20 for lunch on me. Nile told me he wanted to give the money to someone who really needed it. He thanked me for my gesture of love that was birth out of ignorance and discrimination. We talked for a while and at the end we embraced with a hug that was birth out of love and respect. That was another moment I’ll never forget.
Below is the letter I wrote:
My name is Sheena, and I’m a 33 year old black female. As we both know
there is a lot going on in the world right now. There are people being
discriminated against for the color of their skin and their religion
among other things. I can admit that I get upset when people judge
black people and think we’re all “bad” people. But I also must admit
I’ve also been prejudice against people of your faith.
I recently took a trip to Canada. While there my husband and I
took a tour of the CN Tower in Toronto. There was a man who I assumed was a Muslim and he stood behind us in line. I instantly got nervous. He had a camera
in his hand and a backpack. I was very nervous that he had explosives
in his backpack. To calm my nerves I started to talk to him. We had a
pleasant conversation, and I realized we were both pumped about being
able to tour the CN Tower. When we got to the top of the CN Tower we
saw each other a few times. One time I asked him if he was having a
good time and getting some great pictures. He said he was and then
asked if I’d take a picture of him. He then took a picture of me and
my husband. I remember feeling terrible for judging this man without
knowing anything about him. I’m happy I had enough sense to open my
mouth and talk to him. I know you’re not that man, but I wanted to apologize for my ignorance of your people. I hate when I’m
discriminated against, so it was awful for me to show discrimination towards another human being. I don’t have all the answers for how to solve what’s going on in the world, but I do know a little extra love can make things better. We’re all different, but that is not enough reason for us not to be able to love one another in peace. I have also included a small
gesture of kindness. Please consider this as lunch on behalf of my husband and me.
Love and Light
Anthony’s part of this date was to write a letter to a police officer about how it feels to be discriminated against because of the color of his skin. Sidenote: all police officers aren’t bad and we (Anthony and I) respect the work they do. I don’t have to speak too much about the division in this country because let’s face it we see, hear and feel it every single day. Instead of mailing the letter to a police station we rode around the city that night and found a white police officer at a bbq spot having dinner. We cautiously approached his table and told him we wanted to talk. He said his name was Officer Ryan and we started off with small talk about how we were newlyweds, hadn’t too long moved to the neighborhood and have weekly date nights. We then took the time to speak about how the relationship between police officers and black males is strained. Anthony talked about his anxiety as we drove around looking for a police officer to speak with. He listened to us and praised what we were doing. We handed him the letter Anthony had written as well as $20 for a meal on us.
Below is the letter than Anthony:
My name is Anthony and I am a 33 year old college educated African-American male. With the social climate being the way that it is, I felt that it would be a good time to write you a note. First of all I would like to say thank you for putting your life on the line for the people of Nashville every single day. I know that it must be difficult waking up every morning and not knowing what the day holds in store for you. I could not imagine doing what you do. I was raised to be respectful of policemen and police women, but it was for a different reason than you may think. I was raised to be respectful and obedient out of fear for my safety. That if I said something incorrectly or I made the wrong sudden movement, that things may not go well for me. The majority of interactions that I have had with police officers have gone fine, and you have been there for me in my time of need and I sincerely thank you for that, but there is always a fear that
when I am out, that if I have an encounter with a police officer that I may not come home to my wife. With all that being said, I am writing this to say that there is no reason to fear me if you do. I am a loving husband, son and God-fearing man. I go to work every day and I try to make society better. I am kind and want to extend my kindness to all people. There are a few bad apples in every bunch, but that doesn’t mean they are all bad. I do not wish to inflict harm on you anymore than you would on me. I just want to make it home to my wife just like you want to make it home to your family. I hope that this note will help to shed some light on the way that someone in my position thinks. I wish you nothing but safety in the line of duty and thank you for what you do.
Please accept this monetary gift as a small token of appreciation for what you do and for you to have lunch on me and my wife.
During the car ride home, Anthony and I thought about what we had done that night. We had a conversation with two men about discrimination and prayed that our conversation forged other conversations. Dates like that one bring us closer together as a couple. Although it was the right thing to do, it was still a bit scary to approach strangers and try to have a genuine conversation about sensitive subjects.
No matter how many dates we have, this one will ALWAYS be one of my favorites. The concept of America is a beautiful one. It’s supposed to be a nation of DIFFERENT types of people coexisting and learning from one another. We don’t always have to agree, but where we fall short is respect! Until we learn to truly respect each other we’re going to be fighting a never-ending battle. I challenge everyone to speak to someone who doesn’t look like you. Learn about them, their background, what makes them who they are. When I spoke to the man at the CN Tower I was no longer scared, because I realized we’re the same on some level. The same thing goes for when we spoke to Officer Ryan. We found some commonality.
As I always say, I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that involving LOVE in the solution is a good start.
Until next time loves…