The Conversation isn’t a Conversation for Everybody

Even if we live on the same street or city it doesn’t mean we have the same experiances.

I was talking to an African-American friend the other day. He was telling me about a conversation with a mutual friend (a White dude).  The topic was Ferguson, MO.  The White guy said something like “I’m surprised that there’s still stuff to talk about.  I didn’t know there was anything still going on there.” I’m wondering if you’re wondering the same thing?

Perhaps things have cooled off in Ferguson, at least a little. Enough to not be on the evening news, perhaps. For a lot of us this means the conversation is over.  It can be over.  If you have light skin it can be over.

What if you’re an African-American man? Is the conversation over? Is it a conversation at all?  If you don’t know the answers to those questions, it may mean that you don’t have any friends that are people of color.

For us with light skin the converstation can end.  It’s only a conversation in the hallway or over a beverage. We say our salutaions and head home to Netflix or our dog.  This is our privaledge.  This is what our skin tone gives to us. We don’t have to deal with a lot that our friends of color have to every waking moment.

I’m not saying it’s all our fault.  It isn’t.  Well, not mine and yours speficially.  You can’t add up all White Sin and put it on our tab Brah.  You may feel that way when you first enter into the dialogue.  White Guilt should be worked through not camped out in.  What we can take resposibilty for are the ways taht we benefit from Racism and therefor perpetuate it.

I’ve been asked, “What do we do then?” Friends, I don’t have THE answer.  Some days the problem is just way too big to do anything about.  Most days I’m determined to stay engaged.  This engagement alone I think can be helpful.  Being aware is the frist step to cutrual compotency and fighting Racism.¹  Dont’ just stop at knowing.

One of the answers for me is to seek out friends that are of other cultures and races than my own.  I learn about their lives and try to understand. I breack bread with them and meet their families when possible.  I apploogise when I have to.  In other words, I try to be a good friend.  Sometimes good friends stick up for each other.  Lately I’ve found that I have the ability to call out the sublte ways Racism is present in every day life.  Man, have I dropped some conversational bombs on some residents of Queen Anne.  You’re welcome.

An other answer  for me is working with a diverse population.  My internship site’s client population is 95%+ people of color.  I’m getting a lot of expriance being a professional White Ally. In the future, when I have a private practice I want to continue that kind of work. I plan to leave room in my client load for low-income clients, maybe even being authorized by Medicaid  or Boarded with an insurance company.  By not making those kind of choices in hourly rate and client retention I limited my working population to the people who have platium level insurance or pay cash.  And we know for the time being most of the wealth is is still heald by light skinned people.   I’m sure I’ll come across more ways to help… or encourage more people want to be engaged.  For now I feel as good as I can about how I’m helping.

If you’re White I hope that you choose to engage in this stuggle with me.  If you’re a Person of Color may you risk to have a White friend.  Not a co-worker or a bud, a genuine friend.  This is a way we can change our future.  Let’s make minute steps into a new way.  Join me.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Be uncommon.

 

 

 

 

¹ Sue, D.W., & Sue, D. (2013). Counseling the culturally diverse: Theory and practice, 6th Ed. New York: John Wiley.

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