It is not to my credit, but in any conversation between myself as a white person and a person of color, I will be thinking of our difference.
Reading Richard Wright and Toni Morrison and James Baldwin and Ta-Nehisi Coates and August Wilson has aggravated rather than healed this divide. The more clearly I see America, the more apparent my whiteness is, the wider the gulf becomes in my mind.
The more I read, the more I have a need to discuss with [the very few] friends [of color] that I have.
This isn’t about white guilt. It’s not about wanting to wring my hands and apologize–although ALTHOUGH I HAVE NO DOUBT that is what would happen. What I want is just to hear from people I actually know about their experiences rather than read and try and understand what their lives and thought life might be.
There is not a nice way to have this conversation.
There’s not a way to start the conversation which doesn’t put the other person on the spot, pin them in a way which could likely be suffocating.
And the fact that so few of my friends of color have ever initiated this conversation with me reveals that they do not see in me someone safe or comfortable to have that conversation with. it’s likely why in movies, there is this show of absolute comfort between blacks and whites. It’s likely why in movies, white main characters are so often linked to a black buddy, one who is superior to them, who leads and guides the white person to a better a self. It’s a cringe-worthy way of attempting to make amends, of sidestepping the conversation.