Updated: Nov 23, 2020
Today is International Kindness Day. Yesterday, I read a post that encouraged readers to perform random acts of kindness to members of the BIPOC community. It’s something that should be a way of life for all of us, consistently. There is always someone around us who could use a boost. But, I think we can all agree, our BIPOC community needs us now more than ever.
Far too many of us lack an understanding of the BIPOC community experiences. We don’t have enough BIPOC and LGBTQ friends, thus we fail to break bread with those who could so richly add to our lives. It is our failure to tear down those walls that prevents us from healing the divide. Random acts of kindness seem like the easiest way to begin the process.
Several months ago, when the BLM protests were at their peak, I was feeling particularly overwhelmed. A sadness and frustration was hanging over me. Of course our melting pot was boiling over. The needs of our minority communities had been ignored for far too long.
It was during this time that I stopped in the local Chipotle’s for a couple of tacos. Typically, tacos make me feel better. The line was surprisingly long and a young man came in right after me. He was on his cell phone having a conversation with a buddy. I ascertained pretty quickly he was in Vegas from L.A. This young Black man was trim, casually dressed in a baseball cap, with a tank top and tennis shoes.
What struck me most was his conversation. He was telling his friend that he “loved her” and he "didn’t know what to do”. With all of the craziness going on in the world – Corona virus, lockdowns, job losses and violence in the streets – this guy was consumed with love. That was in the forefront of his mind. Not politics. Not the Black Lives Mater Movement. This young Black man just wanted to get everything right regarding…love.
It made my eyes misty. So many people want to point a finger at an “angry Black man”. Yet, the guy standing next to me didn’t care about anything but figuring out how to keep his love alive. Those few minutes helped settle my soul somehow. It gave me hope in a time of turmoil.
How could I repay this young Black man who had inadvertently made me feel better? I wanted to do something to let him know that the love he was seeking was all around him, even when it was hard to see. Suddenly, a light bulb went off. I could pay for his lunch. He was behind me in line so it should be an easy transaction to facilitate.
After I cashed out for myself, I informed the cashier I wanted to buy the gentleman’s lunch behind me. She pointed out that he was ordering two. I smiled and told her that it was fine. As he approached the register, the cashier told him that I would like to take care of his lunch. His head dropped and he softly replied, “Wow”. In a hushed tone he turned to me and said, “thank you”. I believe he knew what the moment meant, for me and for him. It was an olive branch, a token of peace.
We all need a little encouragement from time to time. And a random act of kindness, for someone who least expects it, is the most powerful way to ensure the cycle continues.
Note: As I typed “a token of peace” something told me to google it. It turns out there is a movement by the same name. The Token of Peace Movement celebrates acts of kindness that happen every day. Their website states, “We believe every act of kindness grows the spirit and strengthens the soul”. It only takes a minute you know. It does seem like we could manage one act of kindness a day doesn’t it? Holding a door open or sharing a kind word, means showing someone, especially a member of the BIPOC community, that we care.
May the healing begin; one act of kindness at a time.