IN THE MIX: Emphasizing Empathy
kindness, forgiveness are tools to overcome our biases
Diverse communities in America suffer from a lack of empathy, not just from our ruling class elites, but truthfully, from white America in general.
This lack of empathy can be seen in our daily lives. It’s how people view those from rural and urban backgrounds as different, or how we treat people that are different than us with discomfort. You may even just be standing in line at a check out. What’s going on in the back of your head? Are you thinking of their skin color? Where they might have come from? What their upbringing was like? Are they a criminal? Do you think to yourself, what are they running from?
When we use stereotypes to jump to a conclusion without ever having given someone a chance, we do a great injustice to them and ourselves.
If you think any of those things, you need to check yourself. These are all signs of our societal bigotry and/or racism. We’ve been taught this behavior for decades. And all of those questions lead to our critical failure in empathizing with one another. When we use stereotypes to jump to a conclusion without ever having given someone a chance, we do a great injustice to them and ourselves.
I’ve had the pleasure in my past of working with people from around the globe. I assure you that if you look past how other people are different, and try to see how they’re just like you, you’ll have the opportunity to start some of the most incredible friendships imaginable. And in the process, you’ll be enriching your life. One thing I can tell you with 100% certainty, is that there are incredible people all over the world. So don’t shortchange yourself!
Next time you have those thoughts in the check-out aisle of the grocery store, ask yourself a different question like: Do you think they cry when they’re hurting? Do you think they cry when they suffer a great loss or feel like a failure? Now ask yourself, when those things happen to you, do you feel like crying? And do you need the kindness and forgiveness of those around you?
Zoe Roberts represents District 27 on the Eau Claire County Board. In 2019, she became the first county-level transgender official in the state of Wisconsin.