I still feel like I’m at the beginning of my journey with this blog. Still don’t exactly have “the answer” when someone black, or white, asks me, “what do you find so intriguing about black people and black culture?” I cringe at the word intriguing because it makes me feel like they think I’m examining black people as some kind of curiosity, much like the time my daughter Leni’s assistant pre-school teacher in Tulsa (who I’d learn later was an evangelical Christian out to convert us) said to me, “I just found out you were Jewish, and that is so neat. My father has always been fascinated with “your people” and has studied them for many years.” That freaked me out. I hope I don’t freak black people out when they try to get at the premise behind my blog, which Leni, who turns 13 next week, seems to think is all about my “obsession with black people.”
The one thing I have come to value immensely is the connections I make with my readers. While sometimes I feel vulnerable and exposed when a friend tells me that they enjoy getting to know me better through my writings, or sad when I’ve offended anyone, I am overwhelmed with the positive support I receive from so many people because of Wendy Jane’s Soul Shake.
There has been dialogue via the comments section about race, about how white and black people connect in sometimes negative, but also positive ways. I have gained knowledge of how black people’s lives have been impacted by the way society views and has constructed the idea and practice of race and racism. I have heard from white people who have shared their experiences and point-of-views regarding race.
One of the most fun and touching ways I experience these connections is through the stories and materials that people send my way because of the blog. I get web articles sent to me: a book review with race as it’s topic, a link to a blog about a white girl who started sporting an afro just for the fun of it, a link to an NPR show on soul music. I’ve started keeping a list of these materials by my desk. Some of these items make it into a blog post; the rest I am enriched by personally when I make the time to explore them. I’m grateful for my friends and readers who thoughtfully send these gems my way.
Finally, I love when people spontaneously tell me of a connection they’ve made across colorlines, and that they tell me this because of my blog. Like when Leni told me I’d be proud of her because she made a new black friend in her gymnastics class. Like when a black person tells me they appreciate my bravery for speaking honestly and openly about my feelings on race. Like when a white person admits their awkward white person moment of catching themselves saying something patronizing to a black person.
My Dad just started reading my blog, and made me feel proud when he told me in a phone call two weeks ago how wonderful he thought it was . Here is a phone call I received from my Dad just last weekend:
“I called because I thought you’d get a kick out of this. I’m at a football game (Dad’s in Florida for the winter) and football is huge down here, so this is a big high school game–one of the teams fan’s are mostly all white, the other side is mostly all black fans. Guess which side I’m sitting on? ”
“The all black side?”
“Yes…I just wanted to tell you that–thought you’d get a kick out of it.”
I had my own proud daughter moment just then. While my Dad couldn’t see through the phone, I was grinning from ear to ear. My Dad raised my sisters and me to treat everyone equally, and even though he has coached high school girls basketball teams for over twenty-five years and through his athletic work has worked with diverse groups of girls and adults, he just had to share this anecdote with me.
Question? While y’all might mix it up in your day-to-day life and not even think about it, when’s the last time you consciously made the effort to connect across colorlines? Please share in the comments below.