Even though we live in a different day and time than did Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and many believe we need to stop referring “back” to the civil rights movement I think it is worthwhile to examine the manner in which he led to see if there is any relevance for the current struggle for racial healing and justice. Yes there are more nuances and subtleties to deal with than at that time and generations have passed, but it may be a mistake to relegate Dr. King to simply an important historical figure.
From the Team
A place for the Race Story ReWrite team to clarify and expand on the project’s core concepts through blog posts by team members, links to articles and interviews, and contributions from guest bloggers. Come back often for updates and share your favorite content with your friends.
Recently I watched the first episode of the reality series, “Black. White.” with some friends; we were evenly divided racially, four of us black, four of us white. The series lets us observe two families, one black, one white, that live together in a house for a short period of time to learn about how whites and blacks experience race in LA. (Check out the series here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0494185/ ) With the help of cosmetic makeovers, the participants head out into the community and experience being members of the other race.
Much progress in race relations has occurred in my lifetime. However there is a recurring theme in this country that remains a sad reminder of what still needs to change with regard to race and racism. I have observed over months how the Newtown murders were covered in the news and how other similar murders are covered when they involve people of color.
One of the great realizations I’ve had in my lifetime is learning the distinction between emotionality and spirituality. That distinction became crystal clear to me when my daughter passed away unexpectedly many years ago. I was emotionally devastated yet spiritually at peace. Upon reflection I came to understand how spirituality is a capacity that can help transform emotional pain. I also came to understand how spirituality could play a role in racial healing.
I now believe it is emotionally impossible and spiritually possible to create racial healing, unity and justice in America. What does that mean?
So here it is – my first blog post on our new website. I will admit to having a few nervous butterflies, but mostly I’m excited about what we’re doing here and hopeful that people will want to participate. But first let me officially say Welcome!
We want this site to be a place where you feel comfortable, where you are eager to engage in the conversation and open to learning different viewpoints. We will do our best to create that environment and appreciate your feedback.
The Race Story ReWrite Project is the fulfillment of a vision that’s been taking form for many years.
I had the privilege of being a witness to something courageous a while ago - a significant event in our collective racial healing. I was on a conference call with my husband Gene, who is White, and our partner Tod, who is Black. Gene and I have been working on trust and vulnerability for nearly 42 years so far, and I cannot say we’ve got it all figured out. We’ve been working with Tod for nearly three years, and while our partnership isn’t as challenging as a marriage, the race factor requires us to be especially vigilant and sensitive.
Now that the trial of George Zimmerman is upon us it is worth taking a fresh look at the circumstances surrounding the tragic shooting of Trayon Martin. I reflected for a long time about what I might do if I felt there were “suspicious” looking folk walking around my neighborhood.
When I began practicing my elevator speech, it became clear that “race story” was not a meaningful concept for everyone. So let me tell you a little about what it means to me.
We all have stories about actual events and experiences that involve race. Let's say I go to a grocery store in a Black neighborhood and discover I'm the only White person in the store. I'm hyper-aware of how people are reacting to my presence and that no one goes out of her way to acknowledge me or make me feel comfortable. I share my story over and over, any time the topic of race comes up in a conversation.
Connecting the dots reminds me of those wonderful coloring books that include the mazes and dot-to-dot puzzles I loved so much when I was a kid. I’ve watched my seven-year old granddaughter sitting at the dining room table on weekend mornings, effortlessly joining numbered dots with assertive pencil strokes until a delightful image emerged—a clown holding an umbrella and dressed in baggy clothing and big floppy shoes. I've seen her finish this first stage of the drawing, put her pencil down, and gaze at the page in the book of brain teasers smiling, satisfied that she had cracked the code, unlocked the mystery, and given meaning to dozens of dots which only moments earlier appeared to be unrelated and possessed questionable shared purpose. Of course my granddaughter knew what their purpose was when she opened the coloring book.