…thank you for getting what I was trying to say and for getting me.You are exactly right: I’ve been “working on it,” so to speak, for years, long before I met Daniel; our shared impulse to think and talk critically about race was part of our mutual attraction right from first meeting. The years I spent working in the Harlem Children’s Zone were particularly formative, I suppose…it’s such a singular place, and I had many experiences there relative to “seeing” race and my whiteness that I think most white Americans are not privy to (or perhaps not interested in). I learned a lot from talking with my middle schoolers about race. (if only we were all as honest and frank about this stuff as middle schoolers!)And you’re so right, too, that interracial relationships and families can’t be our only “plan” for making progress. That’s why, ultimately, regardless of the demographics of my eventual family, these are conversations I will be having with my children.Anyway, I appreciate your close reading and your thoughtful response. Look forward to reading more of your blog in the future.Kate
This May 2009 photo of a black boy patting President Obama’s hair is flying around the Internets again, thanks to a New York Times fluff piece. White House aides are often skittish when discussing race, the reporter says–except, I’d add, when they control the narrative.
During an election year and in what will be a photo finish contest with the whitest white guy in the room, reminding We the People that they elected the first African-American POTUS is a plus. Eliciting audible, “Awws,” while you’re at it: bonus. Score one for the Oval Office and its public relations machine. This kid’s super cute and it’s a lovely Norman Rockwell moment. But I’ll save my Awws for something else.
I’m always interested in how white people speak with each other about race. When privy to such conversations I’m content to sit back and do the listening equivalent of watching a tennis match. It’s pleasing to me. I always learn something of the Other’s interior life; that final frontier that the lever pullers of residential segregation intended for whites only. I had this sense of a rare treat then, while reading writer Kate McGovern’s recent confessional to New York Times readers that her recently ended relationship with a black British man had changed her. “Could I be with a white guy?” after Daniel, she wanted to know, flipping the script on the black comedian’s, ‘Once you go black you never go back,’ schtick. Short answer: yes.
My mentor, a 60-something black woman who recently retired back home in Birmingham, Alabama, told me the other night, “Just write. Don’t wait for an editor to give you permission.”
This woman, I’ll call her BC, has known me more than half my life and reminds me of who I am when I sometimes forget. I’m lucky to have her.