Me and My ODC (Obsessive Desire To Connect (with black people))

15 Jun

I have had a full week.  That’s what a friend of mine, a transpersonal psychologist,  used to say when he was going through a difficult time,…”the week was very full,” he’d say, and I’d know what he meant.

So, with that said, I am feeling stumped about what to write about.  I will not use the “b” (blocked) word, because I don’t believe I get blocked, just stumped every once in a blue moon here.

All I can think of to report is the continuance of my obsessive need to talk to every black person I see when I’m out and about.  It’s like I have OCD, only maybe I should call mine, ODC–Obsessive Desire To Connect (with black people).

Here’s an example. 

My daughters are taking acrobatics class at a local studio. I love their dance studio.  It’s run by this powerhouse woman, Ms. Christine, who it turns out appeared on the Lawrence Welk show when she was a ten-year-old tap dancer.  She has a huge blown-up photo of herself in her tap shoes hanging over her desk to prove it.  Anyway, the place is always bustling, and I so enjoy  the energy of all the children and teenagers moving about the space.  Most of all I love the diversity of the kids and families that go to the studio–black, white, Cape Verdean, Dominican–just a nice mix of all kinds of people.

Today was Picture Day at the studio, meaning the girls had to dress in their Lion Kingish looking recital costumes, hairs in buns, faces all made-up, to pose for their class photo.  When we walk into the gym a few minutes late, the place is already buzzing–girls flitting around, putting on their headbands, gelling their hair into place, practicing photo poses on the floor mats.

I get in line to pay for the photos.  I ask the women in line ahead of me how things work, and am happy I am talking with women of color.  The women weren’t sure of the answer to my question about whether we can order group photos, so I turn around and ask the cute, Cape Verdean looking middle-school age dance students if they know.  Again, I give myself points for talking to them, wherein my daughters have been too shy to break the ice with their classmates.  I cut my girls some slack for being new to the class, when most of the other girls have been taking classes there for years.  But still, I can’t help but wonder if they feel intimidated being in the minority for a change, as two of five white girls in the class of twenty-five.  Or not so much intimidated, as feeling like they don’t belong, or perhaps they worry that the girls don’t like them.  I think I’ve mentioned before, that I seem to be seeing that as my girls get older, the kids in their classes seem to self-segregate, perhaps not so much in the classroom, but certainly outside of school.

But me, I have to talk to every person of color there is.  Is this some kind of diagnosable disorder?  Some kind of reverse racism?  I don’t know–sometimes I just think it’s a beautiful, rich thing to talk to someone different than me, to engage and be kind to all whose paths we cross.  It makes life that much better–much better than only being around everyone that looks and thinks and acts just like me.  What fun would that be?  I’ve always sought out “fun” so maybe that’s what this is all about.  Connect.  Fun. Joy.  Maybe having ODC isn’t so bad after all.




8 Responses to “Me and My ODC (Obsessive Desire To Connect (with black people))”

  1. Manny June 15, 2012 at 7:06 am #

    Hello Wendy,
    I just wonder (out loud) and perhaps it will do some good as well to ask yourself the question I am about to, assuming you havent already. Does this “Desire to connect” have anything to do with sympathy? Because if so I can assure you that such feelings are not useful to anyone. And if the desire stems from empathy, then the follow up question is why…? Just curious and as you may know very inquisitive…

    • Wendy Jane June 15, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

      Hi Manny,

      Thanks for your comments here. I am pretty certain you asked me this question before. I can answer that the desire to connect does not come from sympathy–it’s not coming from a place of, hey, I feel sorry for this person who is black, so let me talk to them in a patronizing way, and let them know I feel sorry for them. It’s not even empathy, though the ideals of social justice are very dear to me, and I am shaped by growing up during the Civil Rights era, and like you, in Waterbury, Ct, which we’ve noted is a unique experience in terms of the diverse make-up of our schools and town.

      I’m wondering since this is the second time you’ve asked, what in my words or tone suggest I come from a place of sympathy–I am a curious person, too:)

      And, as for the why, I think perhaps it’s about feeling like variety is the spice of life, and I think so often, people tend to live around, work around, hang around with people that look like them, share the same socio-economic status, are like-minded. The thing that excites me is being around all different kind of people with different kind of backgrounds and interests.When I said in my post I like to talk to people different than me, I had had a line in there that continued to say–we’re different, but we’re the same–with race, it’s our skin pigmentation that’s different, but we’re all individuals with different ways of being in the world, so it’s not about lumping all white people and all black people into a category, but making the effort to mix it up.

      And, here on this bog, I frame it all in the extreme–in what I hope is viewed in posts like this, as humorous, and me poking fun at myself for having these over-the-top feelings about making these connections. It is weird at times for me–I really didn’t notice this desire, or make this kind of effort before, because it just was–these connections were made every day in Waterbury, and when I lived and worked in NYC. It was only when I left New York, and moved to Tulsa, and diversity seemed to be sorely lacking, and my world all of a sudden felt so white, that I kind of just become obsessed with bringing black people back into the circle of my life.

      I have gone on for far too long here. Thanks for your thoughtful questions. I look forward to any response you might have about my reply.

  2. Myrna Griffith June 15, 2012 at 9:32 am #

    Hi Wendy. I’ve always been like this, but I never worried about it. Didn’t, and don’t call it ODC because I talk to people just because I like them and I’m a terribly curious cat.

    • Wendy Jane June 15, 2012 at 5:24 pm #

      Oy Myrna–but would I do without my Woody Allenesque Jewish guilt and obsessing over this? Thanks for your comments. 🙂

  3. Manny June 16, 2012 at 6:08 pm #

    Maybe a while back I asked, but I didn’t offer any suggestions (sympathy, empathy). My point is only that in general, as with all ppl, we have are good and bad ones. I like you share a strong pleasure in connecting with anyone I find interesting, it just doesn’t predicate on one group specifically over another. I dont think you want to come off as disinguine by stressing one group–blacks. But it could be percieved that way…that is just my opinion and POV.

    • Wendy Jane June 16, 2012 at 11:15 pm #

      I do remember you asking if I felt sorry for black people.

      I hear what you are saying, but I guess I feel like with this blog, I’m hanging my butt out the window and saying, “hey, look at this weird way I’m obsessing, and self-analyzing–I’m admitting this, and letting you see this about me–this crazy thing, that yeah, you could say is idealizing, or patronizing, or just plain strange.”

      I can only put it out there, because I have to. I can’t control what other people are going to think about me, or care, or worry about it. I can only be as honest as I can, and try to put into words my thoughts and feelings, and share stories and anecdotes that deal with my desire to connect, and to build positive race relations.

      Thanks again, Manny, for reaching out.

    • Kelli Price June 17, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

      I have to say, I didn’t find her story to be at all disingenuous. I found it to be humerous, sincere, and very revealing about the person that she is. I say this as a person who doesn’t know Wendy very well at all, but now feel I have a little glimpse.

      • Wendy Jane June 17, 2012 at 5:54 pm #

        Thanks for your comments, Kelli. I appreciate you visiting my blog. It’s funny when I learn people I know are reading it–all of a sudden I feel exposed, and vulnerable, and wonder what they’re thinking, even though just below, I said I can’t worry about that:) thanks, again!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: