Race has been on my mind lately. This is an important issue to discuss, especially in schools, and I hope conversations on this are happening nation-wide. Yet I worry about the voices in those conversations. Too often, we like to believe we are part of a diverse group, representing a broad spectrum of experiences. Too often, that’s just not the case.
Someday I’ll write a post on this, but let’s cut to the chase and say that I’m white.
After a quick survey of my Facebook friends list, I found that 88% of my friends are white. It’s a rough estimate in every possible way, but it’s a sufficient assessment. Even by the most generous estimate, only ~10% of the people I interact with on a day-to-day basis are from other racial or ethnic backgrounds. I’m just slightly above average, according to a recent national survey.
My daily life isn’t a beautiful rainbow of diversity. It’s actually pretty monochromatic.
Today I live in Area Four, Cambridge, MA. I’ve been thinking about the small town in rural Wisconsin where I grew up. I’ve been thinking about the black girl who I never saw again after someone drew a swastika on her locker. I’ve been thinking about all the people who I never saw again after I left. Whoever discovered the water, it certainly wasn’t the fish.
How can we have a meaningful conversation about race in a room full of white people?
How do we escape the fish bowl?
It’s reassuring to think I’ve made progress by recognizing the limits of my own experience.
But there’s a long way to go.