I’ve had the opportunity to have some adult time this week – and by adult time I mean social time designed to bring coworkers together outside of the workplace. Typically, I’m more of a hang out with my friends kind of woman – I’m not a social butterfly – although I have been told I’m rather like a chameleon and can hold my own in a number of social settings. True enough.
Lately I have found these social settings to be ripe with exchanges that make me uncomfortable and that require me to use some of the skills I have been developing as an anti-racist woman/parent/teacher. Recently I was in a conversation with a man who is deeply involved with a well known charity organization. I was hoping to glean some information from him regarding local (Catholic) worship communities with families of color. His response really astounded me and set off my whistles and bells. It was something like, “Let’s set aside race, I mean, that’s what we’re all supposed to do, right? (ME: NO! COLORBLIND THINKING STINKS) Think about where you want him to grow up, with families like your own, families that think like you, feel about things like you do, families that are like you . (ME: THAT DOESN’T DESCRIBE HOW I WANT HIM TO GROW UP AT ALL!) I don’t think any church would be threatened by your family. (ME:WHAT? I WASN’T THINKING ABOUT FAMILIES I WAS THINKING ABOUT MY SON’S FEELINGS!) You ought to think of sending him to a Catholic school where they don’t have to lock lockers and where it is safe every day .(ME: I’M A PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER!) We had two boys at our church and school who were black and they did great;they felt so comfortable (ME: HOW DO YOU KNOW?) and none of us ever saw them as black (ME:TOKEN) , and we never think of their color (ME: THE ONLY COLOR YOU NEVER THINK OF IS YOUR OWN, THAT’S CALLED PRIVILEGE).
End rant. But really, I was so astounded by this conversation. It was so full full full of so much of the stuff that reminds me I have so much work to do to speak out to fellow white people in ways that get us all a little closer together. Gads – what a stinker that was. Reflecting, when Mr. Silly Pants and I made our way home, we were on the same page – we had the same experience in the conversation, we had similar thoughts. We’ve made progress as a “unit” -as a couple and as a family- and that was sweet.