Race 2012: A collaboration
Anyone with a grade-schooler knows that these semi-formed humans aren’t particularly forthcoming with information. The straightforward question, “What did you do in school today?” is often met with, “I don’t remember.” And my personal favorite, “Did you learn anything?” always comes up against, “Nope.” (To which I always say, “Good!” It’s become a family joke). This type of non-communication communication can be frustrating and makes it more challenging to have meaningful dialogue about important issues. Eyes glaze over if you don’t pick the exact right moment for the exact right conversation and even then, it’s best not to yammer on for too long. Drop pebbles, a wise therapist reminded me last summer. Regardless, it’s solid advice: Despite appearances, ripples have a more lasting impact than any dinner table keynote address.
Still, you can’t seize an opening unless you recognize it first. As my regular readers know, I’m the white adoptive parent of a black daughter, so opportunities for discussions about race are especially important (I would argue that they’re especially important in all families, but that is another post altogether). One way I’ve learned which topics are on the table is by paying close attention to the books Ruby chooses from her bookshelf each night before bedtime. Let’s face it: Clifford the Big Red Dog doesn’t fire up the synapses quite like, say, books about skin color or hair. Let me just add here that it’s been gettin’ deep up in these parts lately, as we’re frequenting the worlds of Dr. King and Ruby Bridges. The versions we read have been adapted to age appropriate form, but each subsequent reading leads to bigger, harder talks. Last Sunday night at lights out time, I tickled Ruby’s back while answering her question about what might have happened to her had she stopped to drink out of the wrong water fountain during the Jim Crow era. That pebble was more like a river rock. And I’m not going to lie: I feel like there’s an anchor weight attached to my heart every single time I lift that veil.
On Tuesday, October 16, PBS is going to air Race 2012: A Conversation of Race and Politics In America, and I’m honored to be included amongst a group of bloggers who—while following Monica Medina‘s lead—will spend the next six weeks writing about race and America and our upcoming election. The goal is to supplement the documentary, to prolong and further a very necessary, but not-terrifically-easy conversation. But have it, we will. I hope you’ll join the dialogue in the comments section here or on Facebook or on any of the other bloggers‘ sites.
Last thing. When I look at that banner up there, I can’t help but picture it as it applies to me personally. If it were my motto, it could just as easily read RACE 2005, or RACE 2006, or RACE 2007,…and so on, because I live this discussion every single day. So get ready. I just may hurl some pretty big stones. I’m strong and not at all afraid of making waves.