In 1975, I was 17 years old and living with my parents and my older sister in the Bronx. I rode the city bus to and from school and one day, when I was about a mile away from home, I noticed that the bus driver did not open the doors when we pulled up to a bus stop.
I looked through the front window and saw a mob of young white males wearing red bandannas on their heads charging towards us. They looked to be around 50 in number.
They surrounded the bus and started screaming that they were going to get the Ni***rs.
It was right at this moment that I noticed two things that terrified me.
Two Things That Terrified Me...
First was that, the bus driver, a teenage male and myself were the only black people on the bus.
The second was the baseball bats they were using to hit the sides of the bus while demanding we come out.
When the bus driver held his ground and refused to open the door, the mob began to try and tip the bus over. The only thing that saved us was the arrival of another bus across the street filled with African-American teenagers.
The mob ran across the street and I jumped off the bus with the other teenager. He was terrified, not only because of this horrifying incident, but also because this was his first week living in this area.
Welcome to the neighborhood kid.
I took him to his home and then walked home from there. I remember thinking of only one thing as I walked home, “I don’t know how, but I have to do something with my life that brings people together around these issues.”
Let me tell you how strange that was for me. From the time I was five years old, I knew that I wanted to be an entertainer.
White people who have just begun a personal journey on unpacking race and privilege in their own lives and are committed to learning about it and want to find their voice on it in order to speak up in their own circles (family, work, relationships or community).
Testimonials From Our First On The Matter of Race Group...
"The experience in this group is beyond anything I could have hoped for. The depths of the conversations, the ways that it has communicated things have been really good. It keeps me in and thinking about it. I don’t think I would be this present in conversations about race without this group."
"The way it has been constructed with the foundation of love is really important to me. I think this is essential. There have been lots of moments and things pointed out for me that have lifted the veil in jarring ways. It is starting to feel really liberating. I am able to be in relationship with the guilt, shame and grief and not be hindered by it.”
“I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew it would be good, because it was you. This container makes me constantly think about how I show up in the world. In all my interactions, I start to question my part in the interaction. How can I reframe the interactions with my clients of color so that I am taking all of who they are into consideration.”
Being Part of this Group Will Take Courage...
That is why it is by invitation only and I am hopping on the phone with every applicant to make sure that the right group of people come together for this important work.
I believe that in order for us to achieve the change we want to see in this country around race, White people have to find their voice and learn how to be on the front lines in the conversations around race.
People of color are already out there making our voices heard and it is hard, but we have been doing it for a very long time.
Now, you have a chance to be a real part of the conversation. I can teach you how to do that one step at a time. At 17, I didn’t know how I could fulfill my purpose in this work, but now I damn sure do!
Learn to look through a different lens and begin to know what you don't know.
Learn and talk through definitions associated with race and privilege.
Start to unpack privilege and some of the reasons behind your thoughts and actions.
Begin to understand what contributes to many of the conflicts we have around race in this country.
Learn the skills necessary for setting the foundation for having uncomfortable conversations.
Have the opportunity to see where you are getting it wrong when it comes to conversations dealing with race.
Bring real life situations to the discussion table.
Decide and work on how you personally will use your voice to take action.
Practice skills that help you communicate more concisely, compassionately, consistently and confidently.