“They don’t see me”

As an ewich type of girl, I have access to a lot of business owner type organizations which I love. It’s always so comforting to be in a room with people that truly understand me. People that have put $100,000 of payroll on their AMEX card. Yes, I did this once when a big client did not pay on time. The client eventually did pay and I paid AMEX but that was one tough 11 days. My regular friends and family would never understand that, we who own businesses would never share that with “non-business owners” for that very reason. So when you get to be in a room of business owners, it’s like coming home, sleeping in your twin bed again with Mom making your meals and doing your laundry. You’re safe.

So, I was at an event like this last year and at one of the lunches, I noticed an African American woman sitting alone eating. It was an event which translates to “old white men” for my industry so I beelined over to her table and asked to join her. We had a lovely lunch, shared history, family, business challenges, goals and business cards. We have communicated over time, during this awakening of 2020, and recently we were talking about George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and she said to me that she was afraid every time her husband or her son left the house. And then she asked me if I understood the importance of telling my grandson the dangers of being a black man. Let me repeat: she is afraid every time her husband or son leaves the house. But this gets more painful, she went on to say to me “They don’t see me”. “They don’t see my husband”, They don’t see my son”, They won’t see your son”. “They don’t see me.” “But you can make them see me with your voice, because of the color of your skin”. That sits on my heart.

I would walk through fire and take a bullet in the chest for my grandson. I see him. But in all honesty—Do I see ALL others as I should? Should we all be asking ourselves this question: Who do you see or not see – and why? AND, where can you use your voice to make someone be seen, feel seen, or make another see? It makes me think of Gertrude Stein and the Salon era in Paris. The gatherings in the Stein home “brought together confluences of talent and thinking that would help define modernism in literature and art”. What if we brought people together to understand the confluences of race, family and culture in the world today?

I see my friend, I see my grandson, I see his father, his grandmother, all of their family. I see them. And I will continue to see more.