James Morris Lawson Jr. was asked by his mother, “…what good did that do,” when he had returned from an errand. During that errand, he was called a racial slur, “nigger” by another person, and he had slapped that person in response. There was a discussion, between his mother and James, of their love of their family, God, and asking James, or “Jimmy” that his mother called him, if there was a better way to have handled that situation. This was one pivotal moment in Lawson’s life that I thought was very life changing for the better. His violent response gave power to those to use against him and people like Lawson.
His self-reflection of that moment with his mom and the events that occurred during that errand, has made me think about all those times in my own past about all the decisions I have made, will make, and how can I go about life thinking before I act with any type of negative reactions. I think what got me, growing up as a child, was when people made comments that prevented you from having a say. For example, I was called “gay” with the most hate behind the usage. I had not yet even fully comprehended the word and what it meant. I did not even know to take it as an insult, or a compliment, or if they were even talking about me in the first place.
My parents used to say, “hey is not my name” or in general not to use “hey” as a name identifier in place of another’s person’s name that they want to be called. I would call my mother “mom” or father “dad” rather than by their first name like “Clarita” and “Rogelio”. It was the whole “respect” aspect that I we all try to be taught during our growth period of childhood to the present and future. Although I do not use Japanese anymore because I am not longer immersed in that environment where I can practice it daily with others, I learned the “proper” and the “non-proper” which is present in most languages I have learned about. There was one way you would talk with friends, the way you talk with your parents, and then there was self-speak which is more of a stream of thoughts rather than actual sentences with grammar.
In reference to Lawson and his existential experience with his mother challenging him to make a different, or an even better, decision the next time another makes him feel threatened, I feel like peaceful resolution should always be on the mind. It is like constantly doing multiple-choice questions in your head and asking yourself, “choose the best possible answer” for a particular question. Sometimes the question, conflict, or issue at hand is tricky, but most of the time I have concluded to try and keep it simple. I always tell myself, “…to not overthink,” a situation and just take each possible option as a scenario. In other words, I try to treat every person I meet as a blank slate and take into account we most likely come from different parts of the world with different ideologies even if we share a religion, race, and or mindset.