My heart is heavy with a lot of pondering. But it is also light with a lot of new trust and discovery.
A few weeks ago I learned that something serious and scary had happened to my friend, Tufara.
Tuffy works for the Highlander Center. If you’re not familiar with that highly esteemed organization, please check them out. They do important work in this world.
Part of Tuffy’s job is to travel around developing new partnerships for Highlander. She recently went to a rural area to do just that. I’m not going to tell you exactly where because, if it’s too far away from you, then you might just think you’re somehow vindicated in this story and that’s not the point.
She arrived in this new community at the appointed hour.
As she was getting out of the car, Tuffy overheard a voice: “They didn’t tell us they were sending us a nigger.” Right about that time, her cell phone rang. The person on the other end was a constituent from inside the building saying, “Tuffy, get back in your car and drive away.”
Now, when I learned about this incident, I said, “I can’t believe that things like that still happen in these days and times.” I even posted that to Tuffy’s Facebook page. “I’m shocked and indignant…” I believe is the way I put it.
Tuffy wrote back that she was shocked as well. Shocked that I was shocked. Given the work that I do, she wondered how I could not know that these evils still transpire every day.
So, I started thinking about that.
I believe that this is one of the subtle and nearly unrecognizable aspects of white privilege that we carry with us every day. It’s a mask. Kind of like the comedy and drama masks. The one of surprise. Oh?! That happens? We have to be reminded every time.
So, Tuffy and I have been having this very rich dialogue about it, strangely enough, facilitated by Facebook. And, I told her – here and now, I’m ripping off that mask in her honor.
She told me she believes the only way that racism will ever truly be over is when white people understand that it’s our work. Did you hear me? Our work. To take up the mantle and carry forth these discussions. To tell these stories. To recognize and lay down our privilege whenever and wherever possible.
I don’t know what comes next, but my heart is heavy with pondering. And light with new trust and discovery. Let me know your thoughts…