On my way home from work I listened to an interview on NPR with two African-American women who wrote the book “Go Tell Michelle.” And I thought, “Wait. I’m not African-American. I am white. But Michelle is my first lady, too. And she and her husband bring hope to my heart too.” I found it intriguing that I had very similar thoughts as some of my African-American sisters when I saw Michelle. “I’m so very glad she is dark-skinned,” I thought, “and her beautiful girls are definitely African-American.” This gives me hope that we will be able to move beyond race. We are all human with human needs, wants, desires, and failings. As a white woman in this country, I always feel a tinge of dis-ease whenever I lock my car door as I pass an African-American. I have to suppress the urge to roll down the window and say, “I always lock my doors when I pass anyone walking on the street if I have forgotten to do so. I didn’t lock my car doors because of your color.” As a white person, I too suffer because of race. It is not ok for me to open up a frank discussion about racial issues in many situations. I remember when I was in grad school. I was on a student committee to interview prospective faculty members. All of us on the committee were white, so when I tried to dialogue about ethnic issues, the other members wouldn’t engage because no one of color was in the room. In addition, the assumption was that the African-American candidate would understand ethnic issues better just because of her color. On reflection, I disagree. An African-American doesn’t automatically have a better understanding of an Israeli-American or a Cuban-American, etc. We all have cultural, religious, and ethnic experiences and understanding. Such that I can say to you and mean it from my heart, “Please don’t judge me by the color of my skin.”
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