This morning I read a hilarious and sobering opinion piece from Damon Young in the NYTimes. It’s titled “Yeah, Let’s Not Talk About Race.” Damon Young offers a strangely funny lament (my choice of words, not his) about what happens when he’s out on his evening walk around the neighborhood.
If you can access this piece, here’s the link.
Here’s why his piece struck a chord with me. It’s a cry for honesty and for justice. In a nutshell, he’s tired of being expected to listen to uninvited comments from white people who aren’t willing to pay for his time or do their own homework. Especially when he’s out walking at the end of the day.
No, he isn’t mean. He’s just suggesting we might want to back off. Put another way, he’s letting us know we can’t atone for our sins of commission or omission by talking with him. Nor can we receive absolution from him. It doesn’t matter how much we care about him and other black and brown people. Or how eager we are for him to answer our questions for free. Not that he’s looking for our money. He isn’t.
You might say this behavior toward him is the price of being a celebrity. I don’t think so.
Furthermore, we don’t have time to try atoning for our white color by interrupting persons of other colors just to signal or prove to ourselves (?) that we’re one of the good guys or gals. Or that now we’ve got it, when we don’t.
Seriously, the problem of presumed or arrogated white superiority has been our problem since the founding of this nation. It’s high time we white citizens began addressing it with each other.
I’m not saying a conversation with a black or brown friend or colleague is out of bounds. Still, I want to know I’m having the conversation because I’m a learner, and my friend of any color isn’t afraid to tell me the truth about myself as a white woman.
Happy reading and talking about things that matter!
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 11 July 2020
Image found at NYTimes.com