Hi Mary, I didn’t mean to say that you are not already being that compassionate, kind, and caring individual. I’m sure that you probably are doing that already, quite possibly better than I am! I was simply reacting to the statement that one should treat all people the same. I don’t want to treat people of color the same as white people, because white people have all kinds of privileges that people of color do not, and if I “skip over” that in my effort to treat everyone equally, then I have missed a very important part of that person’s life experience, which helps make all of us who we are. I sometimes worry that when I am treated “the same” as straight people, that my own life experience is assumed to be the same as theirs, and it isn’t. That could lead to my being put in very vulnerable situations, so it makes me uncomfortable.
Maybe an example will help. I once visited a patient (and her husband) in day surgery, prior to surgery. They were known to me from church, which is a place where I felt safer to be “out” than in the hospital. In their effort to “treat me the same” and normalize my relationship and show their acceptance of me, they immediately began asking about my girlfriend at the time, in front of hospital staff that I wasn’t out to. I was immediately put on the defensive, feeling like my worlds were colliding and I had been outed without my consent.
This may simply be a matter of semantics. I was just trying to acknowledge that we can make a distinction between treating everyone with respect and warmth and dignity, vs treating everyone the same. Because what feels like respect and warmth and dignity to some people would feel vulnerable and unsafe to others. Same as how saying “I don’t see color” when talking to a person of color totally dismisses a part of who they are.
I hope this is a bit less clunky than my last attempt. It’s sometimes hard to communicate things in the ways we intend to!