These are short stories that illustrate racist OR anti-racist actions. They should ideally be no longer than 100 words, but this is not an ironclad rule. We invite/encourage Friends to contribute from their own experience. Please send to firstname.lastname@example.org. Contributions will be vetted by the ARC before being placed in the CHFM e-news. Please indicate whether we should print your name or “Anonymous.”
Decades ago, a co-worker and I went out for lunch.
Valerie’s first child was due in a few weeks, the first grandchild in the family. A benign parent/in-law rivalry had manifested in a steady stream of baby gifts and babysitting offers. After she’d reduced me to helpless, eye-wiping giggles with her mother-in-law impression, we waited in line to pay. The cashier gave us our change. On the short ride back to the office, Valerie was uncharacteristically silent. Back at our desks, I looked at her and saw a single tear glittering in the corner of her eye. “Valerie, what’s wrong?” I asked.
She turned away from me, silently. When she finally spoke, it was in a taut voice I’d never heard. “That cashier—she didn’t touch my hand.”
“Didn’t touch your hand?” I echoed.
She swiveled back to me. A second tear had joined the first and, viciously, she wiped it away. “She put the change in your hand—she touched you. But she just dropped the money in my hand. She didn’t want to touch me.”
I hadn’t noticed.
I grabbed my phone, dialing from the receipt. The cashier answered. “My friend and I were in your restaurant about fifteen minutes ago,” I told her. “I’m White and she’s Black. When you gave us our change, why did you place it in my hand and only drop it in hers?”
The woman’s voice was indignant. “I didn’t do that! I would never do that,” she exclaimed. But…she had.
I can only try to imagine how conflicted Valerie felt about the world her baby would come into. In the past half hour, we had both shed tears. Mine, countless and borne of helpless laughter, and hers—only two—of centuries-old pain.
When I had my second Covid shot, there were about two dozen people waiting, one was of color. When I was in recovery, there was again only one POC present, having come in after me.
Our city has a large Black population; Blacks hold elected offices; there are Black families which are affluent. That day the weather was good and parking plentiful.
I am no medical/epidemiological expert. I have no basis to point fingers. Yet actual reporting by state and local authorities is “poor” and very “patchy.”
So clearly something (or many things) important are not happening. I appreciate all the attention and efforts to fix the deficits & injustices. We need more.
My friend, standing on the CHFM porch watched a White member of Meeting talking to a Black man from OCC as she touched his hair. Telling me about it, her shame and her fierce response taught me it was wrong. “How do we teach our Meeting to see how wrong it is to touch someone like permission is not required?” she asked without knowing the answer or even having hope that there was an answer. I have never forgotten that conversation or her despair.
When I was in kindergarten, a White friend I had made on the school bus excitedly told me about her new guinea pig. I asked if I could come to her house to see it one day. The next day, she informed me that I could not come over because her mother did not like Black people. She then avoided me on the bus.
I was hurt and after a few days, I told my mother about it. She took me to a pet store to see and hold a guinea pig. I honestly did not like it much. It seemed too small and fragile and did not seem interested in playing with me. I thought it was boring. I eventually made other friends on the bus and forgot the girl’s name.
What I learned that day was that sometimes what people will try to keep me away from is not all that great, but they simply like the power to discriminate. If I wanted the experience or object, I had to find another way to get it.
A White co-worker recently told me about the times she was surprised to find Confederate flags on her friends’ beautiful boats here in lower Delaware. All I could think about is how glad I was that I was not invited and how much fun I have had on boats with other types of people.
In 1981 my nine year old daughter was told by her teacher that slavery was a good system for many Black people. When confronting the principal and teacher, I learned that the teacher had been saying this for thirty years to a 100% White audience.
This was the first time her class in this northern NJ town had been integrated. The first time she had been exposed for her racist rhetoric. The principal promised to put an end to her career if it ever happened again.
I wondered then and now, where are all those nine year olds from other classrooms, towns, and states who heard similar or worse? Are they Proud Boys now?
During the Capitol attack on 1/6/21, a Democrat thought he could foil the invaders by suggesting that his Democrat associates move with him over to the Republican side and blend in, to avoid the wrath of the rioters, who were after Democrats. OOPS… When he saw the puzzled faces of his Black associates It occurred to him that THEY could not blend in.
At his age, a member of the House of Representatives who had lived in the USA all his life, he had an embarrassing revelation. He too was protected by the cloak of “White Privilege” and never even realized it, and all of its ramifications.