As I see you… I simply see you. I acknowledge you. Ultimately, the simplicity of that basic human interaction is integral to the change you have been chosen to ignite. I, a blue-eyed white woman living 1,000 miles away from Ferguson Missouri, see you, a young black teenage boy. I see you.
Thanks to Colleen over at Silver Threading for facilitating this weekly community event.
I was procrastinating, playing with the apps on my phone, I mean I was deciding which of the two half-completed Writers Quote Wednesday posts I should finish, when I stumbled upon a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on my twitter feed and I decided I should change directions entirely. Continue reading
Since Monday’s announcement that the grand jury chose not to indict Officer Wilson for the murder of Mike Brown, I have been in shock while at the same time not surprised. At first, I thought that I would wait until I read all the evidence that was released following the prosecutor’s announcement before I write a post. Today, I know that I will likely not wait. There is much to be said both as an American reacting to the existence of institutionalized racism in her country and after reviewing the released evidence.
In the meantime, I wanted to share a post I wrote last year because if there is one thing that is clear to me in the last two days it is that America by and large does not understand what it is like to grow up as a black boy in America. Javon Johnson’s message is powerful and I encourage and implore you to listen to his video.
Since first viewing Javon Johnson’s“’cuz he’s black” on You Tube, I can’t stop watching it. It is a must watch that takes less than five minutes. Please stop now and watch it even if you don’t come back and finish reading this post.
Johnson, a professor in the Department of American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California, for sure is brilliant, articulate, a charismatic orator who captivates my attention. Not only have I watched “‘cuz he’s black” at least a dozen times in the first 48 hours since Mr. David Johns shared it on his twitter feed, I have played it incessantly over and over in my head.
As I work, I type, “The Tenant upon twelve months’ prior written notice,” while I hear in Johnson’s deliberately soft voice that makes me lean in and listen intently to his words, “I’m not happy with the…
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Blogging 101: Dream Reader
Today’s Assignment: publish a post for your dream reader, and include a new-to-you element in it.
Time to put your writing caps back on, and start honing your blogging focus.
We often create posts hoping that someone in particular will see (and appreciate) our work. Today, publish a post for that person — whether they’re a real-life figure or not — and stretch your blogging chops as you do.
Today’s Assignment: publish a post for your dream reader, and include a new-to-you element in it.
It’s funny; you weren’t my target audience when I started this blog. When I responded to the question: who would I love to connect with via my blog during the first Blogging 101 assignment you didn’t even cross my mind. But here I am writing to you my Dream Reader.
Let’s be honest with each other; you and I don’t really know each other. We had a chance encounter that lasted all of thirty seconds over twenty years ago. Yet, I can still see your face and oftentimes think of you when I am in the tunnel where we first met, and believe I would recognize you if our paths were ever to cross again.
But, really we know nothing about each other except what we were able to assess in a snap thirty seconds over twenty years ago.
It was late on a Friday night, nearing 1 a.m. and the subway was going to stop running soon. I wanted to make sure I made my connection for the last Mattapan trolley that would take me home.
I was young and had been working in the City for only a couple of years at the first job I landed in commercial real estate after graduating from college. I was heading home after a night out with my girlfriends. I had a few drinks too many that night and I was very aware that my intoxicated state made me vulnerable. Intoxication also heightened my defenses.
Our paths crossed in the T walkway at State Street, a long, cold corridor connecting several different subway platforms.
You did not know that even during the daytime that corridor and the one that connects Downtown Crossing and Park Street stations creep me out. They make me feel vulnerable as a woman walking through them alone when they are not filled with other commuters. How could you know?
You did not know that sense of vulnerability did not stop me from using either of these corridors. I just walked through them with intentness and purpose and with an attitude which proclaimed I belonged there challenging someone to dare say anything to the contrary. How could you know?
I was half-running, half-walking that empty corridor, veering towards my right so that the wall would hold me up if I lost control as I raced towards the Forest Hills platform. Periodically, I adjusted the skirt my junior high teacher, Mrs. Proctor, would’ve sent me to the principal’s office for wearing because the hemline was too short.
You heard the sounds of my high heels clicking and clanking on the cement floor of the hallway before your eyes caught mine.
I heard the sound of your footsteps, a man’s footsteps coming down the hall towards me.
Our eyes met as I tried to somewhat gracefully bolt by you onto the subway platform. I nodded and smiled but refused to stop.
I noticed you were 10 – 15 years older than me, a touch of gray scattered throughout your hair and facial hair adorning your light mocha colored face.
You wanted me to converse with you.
I wanted to get to the subway platform before my train arrived.
You sensed my fear.
You did not know that my adrenaline coursed faster and my defenses heightened the moment I heard the footsteps of a man approaching me. How could you?
I did not know you simply wanted to tell me to slow down, there was still time before my train arrived. How could I?
You did not know that I found the scent of your cologne breathtaking and that I was struck by your handsomeness. How could you?
I did not know you just wanted to say hello. How could I?
You did not know that my fear that you sensed had nothing to do with your blackness but everything to do with you being a man, a stranger and I an inebriated young woman. You did not know it was not my whiteness that feared the man approaching me, it was my womanhood. How could you?
I did not know that you were going to react to me from a history of being treated with fear because of the color of your skin. How could I?
I could hear the anger rising in your voice as you yelled out “You won’t talk to me because I’m black.”
You did not hear me say, “No, it’s because you are a man.”
You did not know that it was not your blackness that made me continue to dart to the subway. How could you?
I did not know you wanted to compliment the sparkle of my eyes. How could I?
You did not know that before I moved into the City, I spent nearly every Saturday for three months visiting different neighborhoods looking for a racially diverse neighborhood; not wanting to be the only white face in the neighborhood while also not wanting to see only white faces in my neighborhood. How could you?
I did not know that you had endured a lifetime of being treated as the villain – labeled and viewed as the criminal since you were a black boy growing into the feared black man. How could I?
You did not know that I was rushing home to my boyfriend, his skin the same light mocha as yours, the son of a black-American father and Trinidadian mother. How could you?
I did not know that you were going to tell me to stop adjusting my skirt because it looked fine the way it was without me trying to stretch the material down. How could I?
You did not know that it was your footsteps coming towards me that frightened me. How could you?
I did not know you were so accustomed to being viewed as the problem and not part of the solution that even you sometimes forgot that you could be the latter. How could I?
You did not know that at times it seemed, because it was so, that I felt more comfortable, safer in city neighborhoods that were traditionally black than I did in city neighborhoods that were traditionally white where history showed us outsiders weren’t welcome. And, I was an outsider in spite of my whiteness and shared ethnic heritage. How could you?
I did not know that you were one of the countless black men stopped by the Boston Police Department in the Fall of 1989 after Charles Stuart killed his pregnant wife and unborn son, blaming it on the non-existent black male assailant. How could I?
You did not know that when I heard the strong sounding footsteps of a man coming towards me I did not care whether he was white, black, brown or yellow. How could you?
I did not know that you had noticed I was a bit tipsy and just wanted to make sure I got to where I was going. How could I?
You did not know that I had never been judged by the color of my skin before. How could you?
I did not know that you had lived a life constantly being judged by the shade of your skin – too black in the white community and often not black enough in the black community. How could I?
I cringed as you yelled at me. I wanted to sink under the subway floor, embarrassed and hurt because I wasn’t that kind of girl. The kind who was raised to fear and even hate someone based on skin pigmentation.
Seconds later, annoyed that you mistook me for that type of girl based on my whiteness, I turned to explain to you that wasn’t who I was. You were already gone. You angry, I annoyed.
We did not know had we just met each other an hour before the last subway train or under other circumstances we could have been friends. How could we?
Our brief encounter took place before there was a Missed Connections feature on Boston.com or Craigslist. Otherwise, I would have written: W4M Mocha skinned brother who yelled at me in the State Street Corridor on Friday night after midnight, let’s meet for breakfast at the Silver Slipper on Sunday morning. And, I know you would have met me there.
We did not know we could’ve been friends. How could we?
So instead, I periodically think of you when I hurriedly pass the spot where our eyes first met. And, when after the killing of an Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, or Mike Brown our nation’s attention turns momentarily to the dastardly way black boys and black men are treated in this country and so many in white America still do not get it or believe it, I think of you. And, I get it.