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LETTER: You'll work hard walking in the shoes of another person

Tuesday, January 20, 2009 | 2:57 p.m. CST

In the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr., I’d like to propose a Microinequity Awareness Day. It is not always possible for us to completely walk in the shoes of another, but maybe we can increase our awareness of some of the subtle extra work society requires of some of us and not others. My proposal is that you spend the day thinking about how much easier your life is than some others.

1. On this day, use only handicap-accessible entrances and restrooms. Since you can’t use any stairs this day, how many times in one day did you have hunt to find an accessible entrance, change your usual route or go a longer way than usual?

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2. On this day, imagine that everyone is suspicious of you. You need to show an additional photo ID when you enter any building, when you enter the library, whenever you use your student card or your credit card. Every stranger you meet checks their wallet or purse after they turn away from you. A black friend of mine mentioned two types of things that happen to him each day: at the grocery store, a white person in front forgot their coupon, and the clerk volunteered to still give the customer the discount. My black friend had also forgotten his coupon and not only did the clerk not volunteer to give the discount, but when my friend asked, he was refused. At the library, they not only wanted to see his library card but also a separate picture ID. How many extra times today did you have to find an extra photo ID? How did it feel to think that others were suspicious of you?

3. For males, after dark, you either need to walk with a buddy, or you need to walk with your keys in your hand as a potential defensive weapon. How many times today did you have to wait for a buddy so you could go somewhere? How many times did you have to think about getting your keys out of your pocket and into your hands? Imagine that everyone who walks past you is looking at your chest. How does it feel to have people not look you in the eye?

4. For heterosexuals, imagine that everyone that sees you with anyone of the opposite sex wonders if you are sexual partners and makes a face imagining your possible sexual liaisons. How does it feel to have to be concerned about holding hands or showing affection to your boyfriend/girlfriend in public?

I have tried this and boy, did I work hard that day.

 


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