Willie Spears

No Judgment Zone

May 15, 2019

As I write this week’s article, I am between sets in the weight room. I try to work out three times a week no matter where I find myself. Today I am working out at Planet Fitness. They have a large sign that says No Judgement Zone.

I love it.

Imagine a world housed in the No Judgement Zone. Try to visualize a society that occupied a No Judgement Zone. Trying to conceptualize an environment that has no preconceived notions is almost impossible.

In society we have a premise of not judging, but it is not our reality. Innocent until proven guilty. Yeah right. Church people don't judge. Sure. We're an equal opportunity employer. Yeah Right. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Sure.

We judge people by their appearance, their credit score, their vehicle, their accent, their residence, their marital status, sexual preference and their education.

It is dangerous to judge an entire group of people based on the actions of a small group of individuals. We even judge ourselves. We are either too thin or too fat, too tall or too short, too imperfect to be happy with who we are. I am the number one cheerleader for self-improvement; however, we must learn to love ourselves and others without judging.

Judging forces us to put up walls instead of getting to know people for who they are.

As Sophia Petrillo would say, Picture this: a local Ku Klux Klan leader and an outspoken civil rights activist becoming good friends. During the racially charged summer of 1971, an outspoken, no nonsense civil rights leader named Ann Atwater went toe to toe with political leaders in her home town of Durham, North Carolina.

Her rival was C.P. Ellis, a local business owner and leader of the Ku Klux Klan. Ellis owned a gas station and would not sell gas to black people. He once shot up a white women’s house because she was secretly dating a black man.

Ann and C.P. never took the time to get to know each other. They automatically assumed they knew everything about each other based on their limited knowledge of one another.

These two leaders were basically forced to come together to co-chair a community summit on the desegregation of schools in Durham, N.C. The ensuing debate and battle soon lead to surprising revelations that change both of their lives forever. How did this happen? They reluctantly entered the No Judgement Zone.

Whenever we meet someone, we bring every experience we have had to that moment. Many times, we have formed an opinion about the person based on limited knowledge. We have concrete thoughts about ALL democrats and ALL republicans. We often judge lawyers, athletes, men, women and people depending on where they were born.

Although I am a black man, I assure you I am not like most black men you’ve met.

Although I am an educator, I assure you I am not like most educators you’ve met.

Although I am a husband, I know I am not like most husbands you’ve met.

Although I am a father, I am not like most father’s you’ve met.

I’m not like most coaches, preachers, authors, southerners, or only children. I am unique. Like my fingerprint and my DNA, I am one of a kind. Just like you.

We are all one of a kind.

We should not assume all black people are good at sports and have rhythm or all white people like country music, or all poor people are lazy, or all gay people are animal lovers or all politicians are dishonest or all cops are dirty or all comedians use profanity or all rap music is vulgar or all women are weak or all men are strong or all children are immature or all felons refuse to change or all Hispanics like Mexican food or all overweight people eat too much or all people who buy alcohol are alcoholics or all the people who read my articles are smart…wait, the last one is a fact.

I want to occupy space in the No Judgement Zone, but if you don’t it’s ok; I won’t judge you.

Willie Spears is a teacher, coach, author, minister and motivational speaker. He has been awarded teacher and coach of the year. He speaks to thousands each year through his business The Willie Spears Experience. Willie may be reached at www.williespears.com.

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