Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas on expanding narrative on race


  1. Very articulate woman (Kelly Brown Douglas). It strikes me that she talks about "bodies" instead of e.g. people. This is also how the Coates book (Between The World and Me), spoke of race "body", "my body". I find that curious and a bit unapproachable.

    She says we need to have a "national conversation" and states in her parting words that her top recommendation is a "national conversation", but again, what does that really mean, and what does it look like?

    I speak to African Americans (usually daily) when I am out and about in the community (dog park, restaurants, bars, gym), and they seem pretty normal to me and in response to me. What is it we (as caucasians) are supposed to be talking about? Everyone around me here in Plano seem pretty respectful and agreeable (which is good), but how would I engage anyone on the matter of race?

    1. In my daily life and interactions, I see "normal" interactions also - people being kind to each other. For me this conversation has the purpose of pointing out coded language to each other - watching out for each other by being vigilant about the racism that is foundational in the system - naming it when it evolves and morphs. I want to be careful that I am not doing this to "save" people of color, but instead to make sure that I am doing my own work so that I will be a more informed human and ally, and ultimately change the world so that it is better for all of us.
      I like the body language because it sounds a bot more raw and real to me - maybe that's my RN background. In Maslow's hierarchy, safety of the body is foundational. In this work, that feels right also. If a black body cannot feel safe or free in white space, the rest of the conversation cannot happen creatively. Dr Douglas spends a lot of time in the book discussing the freedom (or lack of) black bodies in white spaces.

  2. The "body" language was odd to me, too, but think of it: what is that sets us apart from each other as races? our bodies, their appearance. Not our minds, our intentions, our experiences.

    I'm struck by the ways that I react to Black people who speak as Dr. Douglas does, who are educated similarly to me. I was utterly shocked, recently, when I was watching a video of a Black clergyperson with whom I'm acquainted. She started dancing a bit, and speaking in a more typically "Black" way, and I thought with a start, "oh! She's Black!" Well, duh. But I suddenly perceived an other-ness that I had not seen before. I have been silent on this experience for a long time because I am saddened and ashamed of it. I think I had perceived her as like me, and therefore not Black. Does that make sense?


Please be graceful with me and others!