This is how we heal: one conversation at a time.
I have to confess, I felt pretty frustrated yesterday by a comment someone made and I don’t even want to talk about the comment don’t even want to talk about the context for fear of someone recognizing herself in my words and leap to conclusions about what I am thinking/feeling/choosing when I’m sorry, beloved-perhaps, you can’t know how I am thinking/feeling/choosing because we haven’t had a conversation on the topic lately.
One thing I will confess, though, was when I took an African Culture class my senior year at University of the Pacific. I was hungry for course work focused on Africa because as an International Relations major, I had fallen in love with the study of Africa.
I was an Anglo woman who had (and still hasn’t) visited Africa – and this class was offered under the Black Studies department. I was the only non person of color in the class and in fact, if we had said “person of color” it would have been seen as a racial insult.
One particularly tiring afternoon I said, “You know, I love you all and sometimes I feel like I have to spend every class period here apologizing for my ethnicity.”
In that moment my professor nearly jumped out of his feet with excitement.
“That’s it! Exactly! That’s the feeling!”
I wish I had a photo of my pale face scrunched up with my twenty-one-year-old confused blue eyes looking at him in a perpetual question mark to remind myself not getting it and not having “the” answer is a part of the beloved process.
I started to get it then and now I’m getting it more and more.
I loved that class. I loved my classmate who had transferred from a college from Chicago who said, “I hope someday I know as much as you do about Africa.” And my other friend, sophomore year in my Politics of Africa class who admitted to reading my ten-page single-spaced term paper on Ivory Coast (now known as Côte d’Ivoire) twice because she enjoyed it so much.
I love being an Africanist. I love engaging with my African friends and I love knowing where the African grocery store is in Bakersfield and I love engaging my curiosity and not accepting what people tell me vaguely as truth.
This took longer than five minutes. It took closer to seven.
And I still have so much more to say.
Which I see as a sign of a really good thing.
_ _ _
A few last words: Walt Whitman from Leaves of Grass.
Julie Jordan Scott inspires people to experience artistic rebirth via her programs, playshops, books, performances and simply being herself out in the world. She is a writer, creative life coach, speaker, performance poet, Mommy-extraordinaire and mixed-media artist whose Writing Camps and Writing Playgrounds permanently transform people’s creative lives. Watch for the announcement of new programs coming in soon!
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