Mile 9 complete. I let music surround me on my walk and it turned an external experience internal. Step to the beat. I can do this. 30 days. It’s nothing.
I was a junior or senior in college when a professor apologized to me for his realized prejudice. It’s nothing near what some of us have known from our very first breath but these experiences teach us how to empathize, don’t they?
I joined a sorority a couple of years earlier, unimpressed with the idea but open to spending time with friends I already had who had taken the pledge. I held a position on the executive board. Nothing special. I was a secretary. But I wore the letters on campus and I wore them to his class.
I had no reason to suspect anything different about this professor. But after weeks of mixing up another student and me, he pulled me aside.
“I need to let you know something,” he said.
He went on to confess to me that he continued to confuse me with another student because he didn’t think I’d be capable of producing the caliber of work I produced. At some point during the mix ups, he realized what he was doing and it weighed heavily on him.
I hate to admit it but I laughed it off. He pressed me to accept his apology but I told him it wasn’t a big deal. I was shocked. I didn’t know how to respond to such a brutally honest confession and I let it slide. I don’t think he let himself slide but I may never really know.
The worst part is that is stays with me.
How do you forget something like that? Should you? Should I have felt relieved that he recognized the wrong and tried to right it? Would I have been better off unaware, convinced that out of hundreds of students over the years, it took him longer to know who I was?
Have you ever been confronted with prejudice? How do we fix something if it isn’t discussed? How do we address something without adding responsibility to the innocent?