Saturday, January 2, 2016

What it might take …

Every year for the past three years I’ve participated in the pit orchestra for the spring musical at a local suburban high school, and I’ve been asked to do it again this year.

What’s important about that is that I’m the only “person of color” involved in the production and one of the very few who even attends these plays.

For the past few years I’ve attended a number of dances, mostly partner-based but also a singles dance where having a partner is often optional. At the partner dances I’m approached for dances at least twice a night, and at the singles dance a number of women have taken a shine to me, some even giving me their phone numbers without my even asking.

Even here, where I’m often the lone African-American, I’m considered part of the furniture. Am I OK with that? Sure, because I’ve been relating across those lines for decades.

Can’t I “bring more people in?” Not really, because I don’t see that as the purpose.

I sometimes wonder if part of the problem with racism in this country has to do with an unwillingness of many African-Americans to step out of their comfort zones and build relationships — real relationships, on a one-to-one level — with people outside that community and go to places where race is basically irrelevant.

I think the mistake it’s made recently in addressing what’s known as “micro-aggressions” is the idea that whites should understand that some of their remarks might be interpreted as racist.

But that’s just it — they don’t, often because they don’t have contact with African-Americans and thus understanding that history. And as such, a certain amount of grace is required.

And what about those situations that are willfully, even intentionally, hurtful? I’ve never allowed myself to be suckered, which is what my enemies want.

So as a result, I feel the freedom to go wherever, whenever without regard to my race. Something to be said for that.

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