Race Out Loud: What I would have tweeted

May 30, 2012

Jessica Young

Editor's Note: This post originally appeared on Isis Rising, a blog by Jessica Young.

Alas, I have not yet joined the millions of smart phone users. I still operate as a technological troglodyte, so I can't tweet from my phone. But I was at an event hosted by WBEZ and Vocalo.org last week, and if I could have tweeted, this is what my feed would have looked like. 

The conversation was a dramatic reading of excerpts from Studs Terkel's book Race: How Blacks and Whites Think and Feel About the American Obsession. Readings were followed by a conversation of Chicagoans on the subject. It was a volatile conversation.

. . .

#raceoutloud

Why isn't work like Studs Terkel's (ethnography) still happening in the classroom?

"Not fags"– the oppression should make us (black folk) more tolerant. Labels are damaging.

Natalie Moore is my journalistic hero.

Richie Davis but no Joe Boone. . . .

Richie Davis just compared conservative super PACS/Tea Party to Nazis–manipulating good people out of fear.

Convo makes me think about Jonathan Lethem's novel The Fortress of Solitude. Haven't read it, but thinking about it.

@RandomOldWhiteGuyTryingToInciteConflict: If you don't want to talk about race, why are you here?

"Racialization" of undocumented citizens.

I listen to young people speak and I wonder why we aren't listening to them more; why aren't they hosting this. . . such wisdom.

"Believing in race is just believing in white supremacy."

I keep hearing people distance themselves from race– "this American obsession with race," "why is this still a big deal"– it's so small, short-sighted.

To say race in America is no big deal is to speak from so profound a place of privilege as not to feel it.

Toni Asante Lightfoot, I love you. "How do we turn our money into our representation?"

Who is Diana Katowski? Is this like asking who is Paul McCartney?

Gentleman speaking about anger – just the tip of the iceberg.

BIG UPS TO COYA PAZ FOR BRINGING US BACK TO THE NUMBERS OF RACISM IN AMERICA.

Sista with a great natural just used the word "phenotypically" to identify herself. :)

Healing. Relationship that was broken. Each of us carries racial wounds in our tissue. We have to heal ourselves in order to see each other.

. . .

It certainly was an interesting event, and I'm excited to see how WBEZ keeps the conversation going all summer. I know that by the end of the night my hand was in the air, but there was no time for my comment, which would have been this:

If America is ever to understand and live beyond the fact of racism in this country it is going to take a lot of healing: healing on a massive, supernatural scale. That is to say, each American with even the slightest inkling of pain, defensiveness or fear or ignorance is going to have to do some healing work. Healing is a painful, messy, bloody business. Like Tony Kushner wrote in Angels in America about change, "It has something to do with God, so it's not very nice." But only when each of us has done the painful, bloody work of healing can we really begin to see the trauma visited down on so many generations of Americans, and make individual, relational and institutional changes that will begin to make us a united country, and not a nation of citizens who enjoy unequal statuses.

Okay, so it would've sounded different. Much as I'd like to say I run around quoting Tony Kushner all day, I don't. But you get where I'm going. Healing. On a generational, institutional as well as individual level, we all have a ton of healing to do.

One final note: There's an essay I read today by Roxane Gay about privilege that I think everyone I know, and even the people I don't know, should read. It serves as an interesting lens for this conversation.

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