Fear and reconciliation: oil and water

Dirk Elting, Honolulu, HI. People cannot reconcile their differences when they do not feel safe. We scare (and anger) one another not only through our acts, but through our criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling and contempt. What psychologist John Gottman has shown to be true for couples, I believe to be true for race relations. I have […]

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White baby in the black projects.

Jamie Bishop, Florence, MA. I am a bastard child conceived in the back seat of a Chevrolet in 1965. When I was born, I was sent to an orphanage. I don’t know what all happened, but my grandfather, (Daddy, or Mr. Bishop) had strong feelings about family duty, and five days later, against my grandmother’s […]

We plan life so we’re safe.

Jamie Haines, Franklin, VA. As an inter-racial lesbian couple in Virginia, we have to plan carefully. Will that small diner be safe? Can we vacation safely in that city, country? Can we hold hands? Will we have to take Mr. Confederate Flag stalker back to court? Every single time one of us walks out the […]

That neighborhood is going downhill fast.

Janna Sakson, Pound Ridge, NY. This usually strikes me as code for “people of a darker color/race have been moving into the area.” I’m sure that’s not always the case, But when this is said, I’ve asked, “Is it still safe?” And there’s some hemming and hawing…so I wonder.

Men I love aren’t safe here

Arlinda Vaughn, Dayton, OH. My partner is a tall, dark muscular black man (with a PHD). When he lived in Texas, the police arrived at a gas station that he was in and tased him 8 times without warning or discussion. My brother (with a degree) has been regularly pulled over. Once, a police officer […]

Looking white means I am safe.

Maite Knorr-Evans Outside USA Ethnically I am Hispanic racially I am White. When I am with my friends they walk faster around those with darker skin color and baggier cloths, forgetting that standing right next to them coated in pale white skin is the same thing but only on the inside.

Cross street? Or smile? I’m sorry.

Anonymous Berkeley, CA This is the struggle I have inside ever time I am walking alone at night and come across a man or group of men, often men of color. Should I cross the street to be safe and be “that girl” that crosses the street in fear of the black man? Or should […]

Best friend seventh grade was black.

John Fisher-Smith Ashland, OR . I immigrated from UK in 1939 when I was 12 1/2 years old and entered 7th grade in Huntington Long Island. I was afraid walking miles to school. I was teased a lot and bullied for being different. Sammy, the only black boy in town, was my true friend in […]