I remember the first time he held my hand.
Seventh grade. Computer lab.
Our seats were close enough together that he could easily reach over and slide his dark brown fingers between mine without anyone noticing. It was the first time I had touched a black person.
My heart raced, and I turned my head towards him. The tears stung my eyes as I whispered, “I can’t!”
He looked back at me, confused. We’d been flirting, quite intentionally, for weeks, so it’s no wonder that my reaction bewildered him.
“I’m not allowed to date black boys,” I tried to explain. And I might as well have slapped him across the face.
I remember the first time he held my hand and the last time he looked me in the eyes.
Those two moments were separated by nine words that scarred us both.
I am terrified to enter this conversation. I am scared to be given a seat at the table.
I’ve seen how the wrong words can slice into a person’s soul, and I never want to inflict that kind of pain again.
But the conversation must begin…
I cannot allow my fear and trepidation to seduce me into the comfortable ignorance afforded to me by the color of my skin.
I am bound to say the wrong thing at times. I will need you to trust that my intention was not to wound. I will need you to correct me and inform me. More than anything, I need you.
This conversation is really only appropriate in the company of friends…in safe spaces where hearts can be heard and trust can be shared. My hope is that this space will become a safe place for hard conversations. A place where everyone can learn more about someone else’s journey.
Tomorrow, I hope to wrap up this particular series and launch a brand new series. I want to invite you to help cultivate a community of people who are daring enough to believe that we can see radical change within our lifetime…daring enough to believe that it only takes a few willing people to start a movement.
Are you in?
This post is the fourth in a series titled “But I’m Not Racist!” You can see the full list of posts here. Please join me as I carefully tread this sacred ground.