Race is screaming to be set free

February 22, 2010

A  college student of color told me that people are confused about race and they don’t know what to do with that confusion. He noted the importance of raising awareness and said:

I think that there should be more discussion around race . . .  I think that race is screaming. It’s screaming because it’s jailed right now. Race is jailed. And I can hear how race is screaming to be set free.

A white friend at church shared about an experience she had recently at the People’s Summit in Olympia; one of the themes of the summit was “Let’s face race.”

I was standing with a group of people waiting to talk to our Congressman. I was talking about this and that with an African American woman. She touched me on the shoulder and said, “I don’t want to offend anyone, but you white people need to get over not talking about race.” I laughed and told her I agreed! So, we started talking. She said, “Yeah, people can just talk about it like we are right now.” It was a blessing to me. I was touched that she felt she could bring this up with me. It takes a lot of courage to risk estrangement or insult by bringing up race; she had that courage.

Another white woman told me about how she invited two black co-workers (they are a couple) to her birthday party. When they hesitated with their response, she quickly said, “There will be other black people there.” Relating the story to me, she said, “They told me how they were sure I meant well, but that comment was not a helpful one.” She realized that in a similar circumstance with a white couple, she would not have reassured them that there would be other people who look like them at the party or assumed that was the reason for their hesitation. “I’m so glad we had enough of a relationship that they could be honest with me,” she said.

We need to get over not talking about race and work together to break open the jail that keeps us all bound. Can you hear the screaming?

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