Thinking Out Loud

August 6, 2020

Someone’s Story is Worth a Thousand Arguments

Filed under: Christianity, current events — Tags: , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:06 am

Various editions shown here of The Negro Motorist Green Book can be accessed in the digital collection of the New York Public Library with the earliest from 1937, to the most recent as late as 1966. Click here to link.

 

As I mentioned a few days ago, I have a friend who keeps emailing me the latest podcast or video dealing with Critical Race Theory, Black Lives Matter, and other similar topics.

Because I live in the real world, I am concerned, but I find myself ill-equipped to deal with the subject matter at the level he is processing it. I’ve suggested some other forums.

It’s like my friend wants to play chess, and I do not play chess (at any appreciable level) and I suggest getting together with the guys in the park and yet he keeps saying, “I want to play chess with you.”

I am however increasingly convinced that much of our rhetoric about race (and gender, and politics, and so on) would resolve if we would just take the time to listen to each other’s stories.

There is a story I want to insert here, but I don’t want to do this without the permission of the person involved, but rest assured it would make you think twice about a lot of things that people of color face, especially in the U.S. (In some cases only in the U.S.)

But this one is also helpful. It appeared in The New York Times and other newspapers the third week of June and was written by Tariro Mzezewa. I would expect a search of the author’s name would include links.

It was about road trips and told the story of Nisha Parker, a special-education teacher in California who yearns to go on a road trip. But she needs to plan it out 100-times more carefully than you or I would consider.

Did you ever hear about The Green Book? It was a real thing, but it was also made into a movie. The guidebook told African Americans where it was safe to go; where they would be well-received. And where to avoid. Because that level of painstaking preparation was absolutely essential.

Here’s the part of the New York Times story that got to me…

…But Parker, 32, said that she can’t imagine just being able to pack up and go without a plan, like some white families might be able to do.

So for the past six months, she has been meticulously planning their journey. She knows which towns her family will stop in which they’ll drive straight through, and which they’ll avoid entirely. She also knows which stretches of the road her children won’t be allowed to drink juice or water on, to avoid bathroom breaks in towns where the family could encounter racism or violence based on their race.

“We try not to stop in places that are desolate, and we try to only stop in cities for gas,” she said. “If we have to stop for gas in a rural area, we use a debit card so we don’t have to go into the gas station store. If we are going to stay somewhere overnight, we look at the demographics to make sure we aren’t going to a place where we would be the only Black people or where we would be targetted, especially at night…”

Things you and I wouldn’t worry about. That’s the reality she and her family face…

…It’s August now. I hope their trip happened and went well.

I hope there’s a day they can just go like any other family.

 

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