Earlier this month I made a post on Facebook, and it stirred quite a conversation. It was picked up by The Blackshear Times when the paper's editor saw the original Facebook Post.
Look. I get it. Almost anybody would have said no. This is a crazy world and unfortunately you can't be too careful...much less when u are a woman, visibly pregnant, and out of breath from walking from the grocery store and carrying a gallon of milk...slipping with every step from the grasp of your now aching finger tips. But regardless of the almost inevitable response of no and the inevitable scorn of a grandmother who was more than ready to hand off a very cute but super active two year old, I had to turn around and at least offer my assistance. Getting out of the car 100s of things were going through my mind: don't run across the street toward her too fast or she will feel threatened. Fix your coat so u don't look creepy. Speak softly so u don't seem too aggressive...and then there was the moment. This was a white woman and no matter how careful you approach or how straight your coat is or what tone of voice you use there isn't much you can or should try to do to squelch any apprehension she may have that may unconsciously arise when she sees the color of your skin..when the fact that an unsolicited black male is approaching her. Deep breath. Slow pace. Speak: "I'm sorry ma'am I could see from a distance that you may have been struggling to make it to your destination. I just wanted to stop to offer you any assistance that I could". After a somewhat startled look at first a tired, weary, and uncertain voice replied slowly "I'm ok. Just a long walk". I returned to the car at the same pace as I had left it. My only consideration now was not getting hit by a car and not getting in a wreck trying to quickly get home. I talk to my students all the time about how race plays out in our consciousness in sometimes startling and in sometimes subtle ways. I try to explore ways to discuss more difficult to explain concepts like privilege. To this day, I don't have a perfect definition but I think that I can use today as an example to illustrate a number of different things and to meditate on my own life and how even I am victim and perpetrator within a very complex system in this society of race understanding. To be clear the woman bears not burden of guilt, condemnation, nor is she the key to understanding white privilege in this scenario. But maybe privilege in a very anecdotal definition is: when getting out of your car to cross a street to help a pregnant woman (in any way you can) of all the things that we would all jointly consider before we approach her as to not make her feel too uncomfortable, the color of your skin is not one of those considerations. -Carlton Mackey (02/01/2013)
What are your thoughts?
Carlton Mackey is the Creator of 50 Shades of BLACK -exploring sexuality and the complexity of skin tone in the formation of identity.