Daymaker - a person who performs acts of kindness with the intention of making the world a better place.
~ David Wagner
, author of Life as a Daymaker; how to change the world by making someone's day ~

DayMaker - any thought, word, or deed that spreads happiness, compassion, or fruitful ideas.
~ Annis Cassells ~

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Conversations about Race: TalkBack #2

Folks are talking about race. Facebook and blog comments, personal emails, and face-to-face discussions pop up daily. Today’s TalkBack shares a few responses.


A recent message came from my friend Cristina as she reflected on her behavior and feelings. Her words prompted conversations between our family members about “double consciousness.”

“When I interact with a person who seems of African background, I tend to have this heightened sense of "double consciousness". I'm monitoring myself and also wondering what that person of color is
thinking/feeling about me and the situation as we interact. I sense the other person may be doing the same. Tellingly, this only happens to me in America.”

“Double consciousness” is the phrase that struck Judy and me. Judy remarked on her own double consciousness. She pays attention to her words, tone, and body language, attempting to ensure they come across to show she’s receptive and friendly. “I think a large percentage of white people, namely those who are sensitive to race issues, feel this way too,” she said.

Cristina considered the reasons for her heightened awareness and monitoring, “Part of it has to do with the past slavery and continuing segregation/prejudice in America and my feelings of shame and guilt and anger over this. Part of it has to do with trying to imagine myself and my ancestors living in slavery and segregation. And who knows what else?”

When I shared the gist of Cristina’s post with my brother, Thomas, he related it to his job transporting disabled and elderly folks. He told of the sensitivity training bus drivers must complete and how he checks clients out to see how they might be taking his words and attempts to provide assistance.

Though we may not be conscious of it, I think most people monitor themselves and others in any conversation where the folks they are talking with matter to them. We do it with our family members, employees, friends, and strangers we want to get to know. So, when dealing with someone of a different ethnic group, if we want to be open to becoming acquainted, or developing a relationship, we exercise consciousness.

We all notice differences.  How individuals, groups, communities, or countries view those differences influences how they accept or treat people.

I am sure the people who claim to be "colorblind" have the same ability to see race that we all have. I am guessing what they mean is color doesn't matter to them in terms of accepting people as equal, friends, whatever,” friend and colleague Joan Kerr said. (See the blog comments for Joan’s full text.)

My poet friend Halia Pushkar shared, “I see this partly from a Canadian point of view, where history has been different, but prejudice there has also thrived, against immigrants, against religions, against native people, against differentness.”

Another friend, Sandy Burris, consciously chose her path. (See Sandy’s full text in the blog comments.) “Having grown up very racially isolated, I determined to provide my daughter with a DIFFERENT experience. It's been easy . . . my particular hobbies (especially dance) surround me with such a variety of very cool people--who come in all colors, sizes, shapes, ages, and sexual preferences. I think really, it's not colorblindness we seek, but simply openness to different ways of being.”

Some of us welcome differences. Others experience fear, either because of the unknown and/or imagined possibilities or because of misinformation and stories.

It seems to me, two things are a beginning toward improving race relations: 1) our willingness to experience and embrace differences and 2) taking a look at our interactions and noticing how we’re being received and responded to.

What do you think?

~ xoA ~


  1. Sharing the email comments of Bryan Kelly, with his permission.

    to get to the root of the problem google the song "you've got to be carefully taught" from south pacific...sometimes one doesn't realize that one is teaching children with their everyday activities and conversation...i grew up with separate restrooms in the courthouse and separate drinking fountains on the courthouse square, separate schools & churches...the memories from childhood make me cringe and want to crawl into a hole and hide...what i was taught came from fear & ignorance - two thieves who will rob you of so many opportunities...

    1. You make an excellent point, Bryan. Children take it all in whether directly taught or by observation of people they love as well as by their surroundings. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience. We all learn from that, too. xoA