A Discussion on Race

March 26th, 2014

Strange to see a message from my younger self:

I have tried – for a long time – to stay out of the conversations on races. Time is up! I’m starting it in a BU Today POV piece in their March 27th edition (let’s hope I’ve got the courage to finish). Do me a solid – take a deep breath and join me on that afternoon – for an online conversation about race in our lives.

The conversations I like best are the ones that find me. They often are red hot, dripping with sweat, loud, full of questions, quarrelsome, loaded with doubts, and colored in deep respect. I love the conversations where the intense reaction cuts right through me. Better yet, I appreciate the conversations that settle upon me before I have to have them.

Conversation is not so simple. But shouldn’t it be? It’s messiness, complexity, and un-predictableness makes conversation hard – and enjoyable, too (sort of like jazz).

I want the conversations that makes me work. I struggle for balance in my conversations. I know that I’m less worried than most about being offended by a comment. I also tend to be less culturally sensitive when I speak.

Because I don’t demand rigid language in my conversations, I work with others in the conversation to negotiate and come to terms with our reactions. I realize that my words and manner of discussion might touch someone else’s nerve (because of the breadth of our sensitivities).

I put in the work because my least favorite conversation is the one that is fraught. Let’s jump into the fraught-ridden conversations – especially the one about race. The public conversation on race forces me to take personal risks. It also makes me go to an extreme about structuring my life around personal sensitivities – others and mine. (I usually keep my mouth closed or make sure that what I say is meaningless, yet polite.). I realize that if I continue to be so rigid about how I set up my conversations on race that I am limiting myself – and my ability to engage ideas and people in deeper and real ways. So, now I’m done.

Let’s discuss race – not about each other or over each other, but with each other. Let’s have a quick and meaningful conversation, online. I’m starting the conversation here. After you’ve read it, breathe in. Breathe out. And, jump into the live discussion at the bottom of the page on March 27, 2014, at 1 p.m. – I’ll save you a space.

Catch you there?



One Comment on A Discussion on Race

  • I believe that we must, first, accept the fact that race DOES matter in the context of America. I think that most Americans, and folks alike, adopt this perfect world ideology that, some would argue, tethers the line of bigotry. At the turn of the 20th Century, Black women were quoted stating that their sole purpose for attending higher education institutions was to break through those racial barriers and dismantle seemingly inherent prejudices. As a Black man (personal account, now) in america, I fully agree with Dean Elmore’s statement of having to do more. Doing the bare minimum, or, what could be viewed as “par for the course,” is, in many ways, commensurate to failing entirely. I had the honor of attending a speech given by Dean Elmore this semester at my institution where I was deeply moved by his words. His theory on Black men (in this case, himself) pursuing degrees attaining them simply because he felt that he had to is one that resonated deeply with me. It is something that I have striven to do for a good portion of my life and is something I feel is necessary to succeed in this country.

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