I was the odd man out at the staff holiday party, so I meandered over to the food table.

I wasn’t full-time yet, so I wasn’t sure whether I was welcome. I’d made that mistake once before and wouldn’t dare repeat it.

I looked around awkwardly for someone to talk to. Someone witty, or someone handsome, or someone who’d dominate the conversation so I could nod, smile politely, and eat my cheese cubes.

“My daughter moved back in with me. It’s just too bad because I was really looking forward to having the house to myself. I mean, I’m her mother, she’s always welcome. It’s just that…”

She stopped to make sure I was within earshot.


“It’s just that she shouldn’t have gone to that school. I tried to tell her, but she thought she knew better than me. She’s just so stubborn. And she’s just like her father. I mean not exactly, but enough. If he’d been there, he would have told her not to go to that school. He should have been there. School is expensive, you know! You shouldn’t just…”

Whew! Now I could relax. Let the nodding and smiling resume!

“Have you heard of them?”

I looked back up with a start.

“The band. You look like you’re about my daughter’s age. Have you heard of them? I mean, I don’t think you would have. They’re Irish.”

I wasn’t sure how much time had passed. I needed to re-engage. What had she said? A band? An Irish band?

“You’re about my daughter’s age. Have you heard of them? They’re Irish.”

I struggled to find the target, but then it came to me.

“The Script? I love them! I actually saw them in concert not too long ago. Are you Irish, too? I didn’t realize.”

(She’d mentioned it so many times, I thought it was relevant.)

She looked at me quizzically and rolled her eyes, “O’Brien. Obviously.”

I smiled politely. “Oh. Well, my friend lives in Ireland right now! I’m thinking about going to see her. Actually, one of my roommates in college went to Germany for a semester. I thought about visiting her then. I should’ve, but I didn’t.”

“It’s so drab there. Why Germany?”


She blinked.

“Gunter. Anjeanette Gunter.”

She blinked again.

Gunter is German.” I looked at her quizzically and tried not to roll my eyes.

She blinked again.

“Is it? Oh. I didn’t realize.”

We need to have a conversation about race.

(and ethnicity).

A good, long, Circle of Life, come-to-Jesus conversation.

We need to talk about power and privilege.

And the Tuskegee Experiment.

And crack vs. cocaine.

And The War on Drugs.

And the KKK.

We need to talk about South African apartheid and colorism in the Philippines. And in Cuba. And pretty much everywhere all over the world.

We need to have a conversation about race.

Before we get into it, there are a few things you need to watch or read first:

  1. In Alpharetta, Georgia, a 65-year-old African-American woman was forcibly removed from her car by the police during a traffic stop.
  2. Nordstrom rack employees in Brentwood, Missouri called the police on three African-American teens who were shopping for prom.
  3. In Southern California, an off-duty police officer pulled his gun on a customer who’d just made a purchase.
  4. An African-American graduate student at Yale was napping in a common area when a white student called the police on her.
  5. In Oakland, California, a white woman called the police on an African-American family for barbecuing at the park.
  6. A woman called the police when African-American Airbnb guests didn’t wave at her.
  7. A ‘Counter-Semitic’ candidate is running as a candidate in the California Senate race.
  8. Two African-American men were arrested while waiting at Starbucks… FOR waiting at Starbucks.
  9. An African-American teenager was shot at when he got lost on the way to school and went to ask a neighbor for directions.
  10. Sympathy for the white Austin bomber stirs debate about race.
  11. Police killed an unarmed African-American man, shooting him 20 times, because they thought his CELL PHONE was a gun.
  12. The Waffle House shooting shines light on white privilege.
  13. Hackers interfered with a NASA competition to keep three African-American girls from winning.

Then, read these:

  1. African-Americans were enslaved well into the 1960s.
  2. African-American activist jailed for Facebook posts.

Most of these stories are actually just from this week.

We need to have a conversation about race.

I want to start with a discussion of white innocence and black guilt.

Before we finish, I’ll share some resources that have been helpful for me. Please feel free to recommend others that have been helpful for you.

Since I’ll rant via stream-of-consciousness, I want to organize my thoughts a little first:

  1. Ain’t Gone Hurt Nobody: On White Innocence And Black Guilt.
  2. Conversations About Race: An Exercise In Futility.
  3. Come At Me, Bro: Don’t Come For Me Unless I Send For You.
  4. I’m Rooting For Everybody Black (except for Kanye and Ben Carson).
  5. We Need To Have A Conversation About Race: Resources

I hope you’ll stay.

I hope you’ll join me.

Next time: 

criminal intent


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