A Sense of Proximity

One in three young black babies in the United States of America will go to prison in his lifetime. More and more single moms end up in jail, and their kids are sent to foster care, where their well-being is not guaranteed. These are some of the frightening words and stats that I took away with me from a radio lecture, delivered by Bryan Stevenson, Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama.

Bryan shared his own experiences of growing up, finding his way, and living as a black man in America. His personal accounts were touching, authentic, and educational. Moreover, he evoked the subject of proximity in the context of literature, referencing to a sense of proximity that could be felt, being immersed in the narration of others’ personal stories; a deep resonance, which gives readers a chance to understand and sympathize with literature characters in their suffering and jubilation without having to experience the emotional roller-coaster ride first hand.

Being an individual, who appreciates the adequate amount of emotional expression, having a sense of proximity with others is not something that is new to me. The older I get, the more emotional I experience, while making my way around in public. To my left, a homeless man is begging for money; in front of me, a person of color is unknowingly being judged and made fun of in a stereotypical fashion by some white narcissist; and to my right, a resentful biker just rides past a group of Syrian refugees, who have just arrived in Canada, and pepper-sprays them, face-on, to demonstrate his disapproval of their presence in his “native” land. Where can a sense of proximity be found in such and such situations?

I oftentimes wish that I had the resources to help those in the dump out of their miseries; the truth of the matter is that I am not yet in a position, where I am capable of eradicating poverty and injustice that my eyes witness. Saying a silent prayer is what I do to alleviate a feeling of guilt or regret at the moment of my felt powerlessness.

Although I do not reside in the U. S; however, being a person of color, I do not have much difficulty, trying to understand the racial prejudices pinned against black sisters and brothers, ever since the day they saw the light on Earth for the first time. Being an immigrant, how I wish that more longtime residents in the immigrant countries could feel a sense of proximity in relation to new comers, who are of a different race, a different culture, and a different religion.

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