I firmly believe that in order to fully experience life we need to see the good, bad, and the ugly.
Until we walk in a poor person's shoes we cannot truly empathize with them, or understand the world they live in. What it feels like to go without food for days on end, or not have a roof/shelter to sleep under.
What it's like being a minority in the community you live in.
Growing up, I had to contend with gangs. As a white boy I was a minority in the predominately Mexican neighborhood. The barrio.
The first time I was jumped by gang members was in fourth grade. I'd insulted one of their members in class. When school let out they were waiting for me.
A half dozen surly homeboys lurked at the main gate. Waiting. Smiling. I had no choice. I tried to run past them but one caught my shirt and spun me to the ground.
I hit and kicked back, but was soon overwhelmed. No one stopped the beating. I was barely conscious when a teacher finally came.
My tormentors were long gone when the teacher finally helped me to the school nurse's office.
Two days later I caught the ringleader of the gang alone while he was busy getting something out of his wall locker between classes. I said his name. He turned. I hit him with everything I had!
That same day, in class, I went after another one of my tormentors with a chair. I bloodied him up good before the teacher was able to restore sanity. He sent me to the office. I was suspended.
After I returned from my suspension, the gang didn't go after me. Word got around that I was loco. They left me alone. I had earned some grudging respect. For awhile.
To maintain that respect I had to keep fighting. Every day was a new day and the possibility of violence lurked around every corner.
I did have friends, and even got to the place where I was comfortable in my surroundings. As much as anyone could under the circumstances.
Now, many decades later, I'm thankful for that beating. Not only did it show me I could take adversity, but that I could overcome anything if I tried hard enough.
Perhaps more importantly however, it showed me what it was like being a minority for six years. Living with others who look different (and talk different) is not easy.
I empathize with ALL minorities in America today. I also respect the challenges they face.
Time for me to walk on down the road...