Not an anomaly

Dear President Trump,

I read a piece yesterday in the NYT about the steady rise in young African American people moving to the South. The overarching message was that because there is racism everywhere, they are choosing to be where there are ample numbers of other Black people and where people take more pains not to appear overtly racist (unless they really don’t give a damn and are waving Confederate flags). The most poignant part, and really the crux I keep circling back to is how in Southern cities like Atlanta and Dallas being a Black professional doesn’t make you an anomaly. The author wrote about how in Atlanta people would say “Jessica did a great job on the proposal” rather than “the Black gal did a good job on that project” as they might in places where being Black makes you other and apart, unknown. The point I think the author was making is that being someplace where there is a critical mass of Black people let’s Black people be seen for themselves, as themselves, as real people with real names and not just some unknown other-type entity with no name or who happens to be an exception to whatever rules about Black people white people have come up with.

Most all of us want to be recognized and to be known, to have our work credited and to feel as though we matter. It’s hard though, if you are someone who was born into a set of conditions that carry a bunch of stereotypes and notions about who or what you can or should be. It can be hard to be seen. There’s an old, old phenomena where the person or people with the most power know the least about people around them while those with the least power are keenly aware of pretty much everything about those with power. This typically shakes out such that white men know very little about the people around them and for survival reasons women and people of color have scoped out the man and can tell from the way he is walking or how he sounds from a distance whether it’s going to be a good day or a bad day. Even some very dear white men who pride themselves on being kind and thoughtful are pretty damn oblivious. I know there are exceptions to this pattern but it’s sad there are these power tiers keeping people so divided and rendering so many invisible.

May it be safe for all of us to be visible.
May we all happily call one another by name.
May we all have healthy egos that don’t need propping up.
May we all mutually enrich each others’ lives.

Tracy Simpson

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