Friday, October 24, 2014

Published 12:49 PM by with 0 comment

The racial divide

The racial divide | Yes, We Rise

For several weeks, I have been seeing articles on Facebook and other social media outlets about the racial divide. One article spoke to the mounting evidence that Blacks and Whites have no empathy for each other – and lack basic common interests. This concept plagued me. As humans, we all appear to want the same things, right? If we have children, we want them to thrive, we want safety, we want peace and to live well . . . all of these states of being are relegated to the definition of each person. Over the course of 10 days, I decided to watch – more thoroughly – how people interact and behave towards each other. I was not surprised. I have nothing new to report, either.

I live in the south. As a general rule, we are courteous. We talk to each other about nothing all day and in every location. It irritated me when I returned to this area, but now it doesn’t bother me so much. I found that everything takes longer and I also found that white people will not smile at me in parking lots, but will talk to me in the line at the grocery store.

Scenario 1 - the Nail Salon

It is GHOE, my school’s Homecoming. It is a huge deal here. My preparation was to get a pedicure. While there, the Asian technician and two other white women were there. The white women were friendly and very engaging. We chatted about their grandkids, their husbands, life in general and things women discuss when we are alone. We laughed. They offered their water/food and we complimented the other on choices of color, toe designs and hair.

As I left, I gave my goodbyes and thought nothing of them. I found myself moments later in the grocery store. Walking the aisles, I saw one of the (white) women there. I said, “Fancy meeting you here!” in a jovial tone. She looked at me and looked away. It was like she never saw me, never talked to me before, let alone the last 15 minutes. I wasn’t shocked or surprised.

Scenario 2 PTA

I am a member of the Executive Board of my son’s PTA. We meet monthly. All of us frequent the local stores as we live in the same general area. In the PTA meetings, we talk of getting our kids together, getting coffee together and other things. When we volunteer at the school, we are very nice and have long conversations ranging from nothing to politics to school reform. But when I see them at the gas station, they are often too busy to speak, too chatty with their kids to give eye contact or even notice me. Again, in the grocery store, I spoke, and she looked at me as if an alien had talked to her. Mind you, I didn’t have on rugged gear. I was nicely dressed, same hairstyle and we have talked - at length – before. She appeared to have no recollection of me . . . ever.

Scenario 3 – The kids

My child comes home and speaks greatly of his classmates. He recounts their daily shenanigans. Daily he calls them friends. I have noticed (but he hasn’t) that when we see these kids in any store, they are zombie like when they speak. If it isn’t in hushed tones or secret code, the look at him long and hard before they speak. At that moment, I point out how they were distant with their parents and didn’t appear to want to speak. I try to explain that is a direct correlation between what they are learning at home. HE doesn’t get it.

I call it White Disease. They only know people in the context they know them – if we met at PTA, they only know me at the PTA meeting. If we met at church, they only know me at church. To them, it is nothing personal; it is just them. They (say) there are no hidden intentions or anything, but I am not sure I believe them. Until . . .

Last night, I was at a local hang out. I saw a lady I knew, but I could not place. As the night wore on, she kept appearing, too far to speak, close enough for me to see. I finally bumped into her and she spoke. I was blank. The feigned ‘hey girl’ didn’t go over well. Then she laid it out. We are classmates. Weekly we sit in a class and talk – even a group project – but I really did not recall her.

I walked outside and another person spoke – engaged me – and I couldn’t place him, either. We talked for several minutes and it dawned on me that he, too, is in the class.

After these encounters, I began to question White Disease. Had I gotten it? Where did I get it from? More importantly, how do I get rid of it? Further, this made me almost understand that the encounters I have had with them were potentially not meant to be harmful or mean. May be they didn’t recognize me – but my inner self will not let it go. I believe because I was not totally engaged to the people and did not seek to find value in the experience with them, I didn’t recognize, recall, or know them or their names. To me, they were space savers – people I encountered in specific spaces for a specific amount of time and I didn’t value it. It was a means to an end . . . Nothing more or less. It is not personal – and that is the problem.

Until we all are intentional about our space, our interactions we will get more of the same. The White Disease of not recognizing has spread, slowly, but effectively eroding the potential of relationship building and having meaningful experiences.

. . . As Free As I Wanna Be . . .
Goal D Locs


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