by terre lucas
“Sit down, place the headphones on. Put your hands on the diagram. Close your eyes.” -Museum Docent, National Center for Civil and Human Rights
Sitting obediently, I next heard, “This your first time here? Just stay calm.” The rich tone of the speaker’s voice lulled me into believing that I was ready for what was next; more importantly, that I was not alone. He repeated the phrase a couple of times. Then it started, amidst the murmurs, I clearly heard someone say, “Hey, you don’t belong here!” Things escalated quickly. People were all around me (thank you sound surround), or so it seemed. I could almost feel the hatred attaching itself to the back of my neck, extending upwards, saturating my scalp and extending to the tips of each strand of my hair. Determined to keep my eyes closed and my hands on the diagram, I strengthened my spine and settled in for what would come next.
What came next shocked even me: I broke. The combination of the sound surround and the loss of sight proved to be too much for me. Within seconds, I flung the headset to the counter and opened my eyes, a single hot tear rolled down my cheek. Ashamed, I rose to my feet. The docent came over, “Are you alright … don’t you want to finish?” Inside I yelled, Yes, yes I do want to finish!” However, my tears began to flow as I quietly said, “I will. I just need to step away for a second.”
Our eyes met and she knew I would not be back. Handing me a tissue she said, “Let me take you where I take the rest of my people who are touched in this way.” She sat me in a single corner seat in the last row of a theater; I don’t even know what was playing. Between my silent weeping, I noticed a quote on the back of the seat in front of me.
“If a man hasn’t found something worth dying for, he isn’t fit to live.” -Dr. Martin Luther King
With an even deeper appreciation for, though nothing compared to the actual experience of, those who’d gone before me, the crying ceased.
The Awakening Series seeks to engage the intersections of culture and faith, particularly around areas of injustice and moral responsibility. Through faith formation opportunities that address issues of our daily lives, we are working to create shalom (wholeness, equity, justice, and peace) for all.