I answered the Starbucks #RaceTogether questions so you don't have to. (But you might want to.)
Let's see how I do.
Here are the questions:
- My parents had __ friends of a different race.
- I have __ friends of a different race.
- My children have __ friends of a different race.
- __ members of a different race live on my block or apartment building.
- I most often talk to someone of another race: __ at work__ at church__ at home__ shopping__ at school
- In my Facebook stream __% are of a different race.
- In the past year, I have been to the home of someone of a different race __ times.
- In the past year, someone of a different race has been in my home __ times.
- At work, we have managers of __ different races.
- In the past year, I have eaten a meal with someone of a different race __ times.
"I'd like a skinny venti triple vanilla cappuccino and a pumpkin-spiced discussion of racial bias in Ferguson, Missouri."
The sanctity of the coffee moment of peace is real. But so is racism. Is the answer ... awkwardness?
So, in the spirit of all awkward things that help the world, I answered these goofy #RaceTogether questions myself.
Read'em, skip'em, but think about it.
When did you first become aware of your race?
I don't actually remember when I knew I was white, but I think it was when I started asking my mom about my classmate's hair.
To mom's credit she kept it pretty focused on like, "hair is different!" vibes and not like, "THAT IS A BLACK PERSON, LORI, AND YOU ARE NOT BLACK." So go, mom.
I also remember hearing the n-word when I was younger and living in the South and repeating it to my mom and she was like, "WHAT? NO." And then she explained about why the n-word was a sad word and I shouldn't say it. And then I kind of learned more about "race" and not just "people are different." I've never really thought about that difference!
But when you learn about race, it's usually a kind of sad moment. I vaguely remember being like, why are people mean?!
10 RACE CONVERSATION STARTERS
1. My parents had __ friends of a different race.
My parents both had a friend who was black that they talked about being GREAT friends with but only during school. My mom actually was really good school-friends with my friend's mom.
I remember Mom talking to me about how she wanted to invite her black friend to her slumber party, but my grandma (who is a wonderful and tolerant person) was just like, "We don't do that" — so mom's friend didn't come to the slumber party.
This friend of my mom passed away when I was a young teenager, and that's when I heard about all of this stuff, as my mom was grieving her friend's death. It took my mom's friend dying for her to bring up race.
2. I have __ friends of a different race.
Do I get to answer this with, kind of a lot? It's not like I count ... but I'm not colorblind. I see what my friends look like, and I know their backgrounds.
I don't want a cookie, a latte, or congratulations, but there. OK. Fine. There! I see color and I notice my friends' family histories; I'm not going to apologize for it.
That being said, I probably do have more white friends than not.
3. My children have __ friends of a different race.
I don't have any children, but I will say it's very rare that the children I do know have friends who are not the same race as them. I'm talking like, my little kid cousins, etc., etc., etc.
4. __ members of a different race live on my block or apartment building.
From what I see when I walk down my street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NYC ... maybe five-ish?
Again, I'm going to have to acknowledge that I look at people's faces and see a face that's different than mine here. Here goes.
There's an Asian family two doors down, and the dad is always playing trucks with his son on the steps, and it's cute. And there's an elderly Asian man who sits on his stoop and smokes a pipe almost every day, and he looks like he has life figured OUT. Cool Asians on my street! That's it!
5. I most often talk to someone of another race:
I don't have a church that I attend now, but when I was young there were a LOT of white people at my church.
6. In my Facebook stream __% are of a different race.
OK, well that did not go well. I scrolled for a few minutes, and only a couple not-white folks showed up.
7. In the past year, I have been to the home of someone of a different race __ times.
I'm going to say ... five-ish times?
8. In the past year, someone of a different race has been in my home __ times.
Also five-ish times, possibly more, since I'm kind of the party-haver of my group.
*UPDATE: A friend of mine who is not white says he's been to my house more than 5 times. Just an update. There it is. Conversations. Happening live.
9. At work, we have managers of __ different races.
Upworthy is one of the most diverse places I've ever worked, and that's including my public high school band class, which was maybe THE most diverse place I've ever worked in my life.
10. In the past year, I have eaten a meal with someone of a different race __ times.
At least 20 times. I'm really, REALY not counting off what my dinner dates look like because THAT would be a little much, but 20, sure.
So there you have it. I talked about race. I learned a bit about MYSELF, and I feel scared but OK sharing these awkward answers with you!
Talking about race is scary.
But the alternative world ...
- with the kids who statistically get adopted less because of race
- with the other kids who misbehave at school and get sent to jail because of race
- with the people who've given their lives (aka THEY DIED) to make equality a reality, only to see a world that has decided that race is *just too awkward* to acknowledge
... is scarier.
So I say ... bring on the awkward.