On conversations

I am concerned about
the conversations we have
the conversations we do not have and
the conversations we are not having

I am concerned about
the student who is growing up as a victim
the student who is being convinced
by conversations that he is the victimizer

I am concerned for the black child
who has to justify that black is beautiful
while her friend’s skin is a given beauty
carrying the baggage of oppression
having to justify not being a threat
convinced that he is a threat
having to think of the way to say the word ‘ask’
having to pick the words she uses
the way he uses them
they way they sound
and whether they group her with the unseemly

I am concerned for the white child
who is not allowed to say white is beautiful
while her friend is allowed to say black is beautiful
growing up thinking that she is not diverse
using words such as ‘I am just plain’
carrying the burdens of her skin color
stamped with the label of oppressor

I am concerned about the majority of children
who are neither black nor white
and the lack of conversation about them

I am concerned about the conversations we do not have as children
that end up haunting us as adults
about scars of yesterday
communicated to every child of today
carried on to the children of tomorrow

I am concerned about conversation that exclude
the words we use to hold conversations
the belief that only some are diverse
the idea that to appreciate diversity
we have to preface that everyone is diverse

I am concerned about the silencing of conversations
of what is labeled offensive
about lack of acknowledgement of privilege
about focus on the power of privilege
about lack of acknowledging racism
about focusing on the power of race
about agreeing that privilege and power only disappear once they are no longer acknowledged
about the conversation we have and do not have about race and power

I am concerned about the pattern that to overcome racism
one must silence the racist
that to overcome sexism and gender imbalance
one must lift up one group over the other

I am concern about the defensiveness that result from conversations
about the questions asked
about the questions not asked
about the ‘get over it’ approaches
about the ‘you might offend’

I have a list of concerns
but most center around concerns
for conversations around the concerns

t.i.a (17-June-15)

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