Thinking Out Loud, And Not The Ed Sheeran Thinking Out Loud, Though I Do Love That Lovely Song, This Is My Thinking Out Loud On Integration In Our Day-To-Day Lives

19 Feb

Crown Heights, NY

Crown Heights, NY – photo by Mo Scarpelli

It’s four years into my blog journey and it’s like you think you know what your blog is about and going to be about when you start out, but then, like life itself, the focus shifts and turns.  I started out wanting to explore what happens when we connect across colorlines, and the how and the why of why I’ve always been drawn to connect with others different than me, why I’ve been attracted to black culture, and matters of racial equality.

Then, with all that’s happened in the past few years in relation to race and racism, I found myself needing to write about Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Jordan Davis, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, and too many more, and Ferguson..and Baltimore…and…

On this four-year anniversary of Wendy Jane’s Soul Shake, I find myself again, not only reflecting back, but looking ahead to where to focus my exploration and writings here–a luxury, I know, for me as a white woman, to get to decide what I want to write about race, when I don’t have to live with the burden of having the color skin tone which would place me in the group who continues to be oppressed. Yet, I know my journey is not over, and it seems my gut is having me turn back toward my beginning here, to look at what it means to connect across colorlines.

I think often about the fact that beyond whether we are lucky to work in a diverse, inclusive setting or attend a diverse, inclusive school, we still for the most part lead segregated lives when it comes to where we live, and where we socialize. This of course comes into being because of the systems of racism, like red-lining in real estate practices, unequal economic opportunities, the creation of school districts that favor white communities, inequities in public education, and urban renewal, that have had negative impacts on the black community, and have afforded white people the opportunity to keep living apart from black people, who, if you were paying attention to the most recent outrage expressed over Beyonce’s Superbowl performance of Formation, you would learn, that the matter of black pride and black people asking to be treated humanely, seems to scare a lot of white people.

Is it important, is it valuable, to live integrated lives?  Would the world be a better place if we truly lived our lives interconnected with one another–learning about our differences, and, learning that we are really all one human race–not in the colorblind way, but in making sure we dismantle the bamboozlement of the construct of superiority because of one’s skin color, something that will take us all time to let seep deep into our psyches, just like the centuries it took to put those racialized thoughts and behaviors there–with white people eliminating their unconscious biases and ways of “seeing” people of color, and people of color, as Martin Luther King, Jr., and this contemporary study of how even small children, black and white, think of white dolls as “better” and “good,” and black dolls and “bad” and “uglier.”  I am not calling for this to take time though, because the time is now for the dismantling–I just know it takes time for people to rewire their ways of thinking and believing and behaving.

I swear it is next on my reading list to read, Why Are All The Black Kids in The Cafeteria Sitting Together, And Other Conversations About Race, by author Beverly Daniel Tatum, PhD, which speaks to the idea that even though we may come together in school and the workplace, it seems we like to socialize with those that look like, and who we feel we have things, culturally, in common with.  Again, I wonder, should we care to have our lives more integrated?

This question makes me think of a statement one of the male members made during our last meeting of Conscious Collective, a new book club I joined that describes itself as for anyone interested in social justice. We were discussing James Baldwin’s, The Fire Next Time. The man of color, said (and I am paraphrasing here), “What do we want when we say we want integration?  During times of slavery the plantations were integrated–there were a lot of white people on the plantations, and the house servants and slaves, who were, we have to think about what we mean, what we want when we call for integration..”

There have been lots of things I’ve heard people of color say about living with and apart from white people, about calls from people of color to create separate spaces for themselves due to the harsh realities of persistent racism and inequities in the justice system, and treatment of people of color in black communities in this country, and I’ve heard of white people, like Debby Irving, author of Waking Up White, speaking of her desire to get out of the white bubble she had been living in, and who now finds herself leaving behind some of the white people who continue to live in that bubble.  And I know of many white people who aren’t conscious of the white bubbles they live in, don’t notice that the spaces they inhabit, whether it’s their neighborhood, school, restaurant, dance class, or place where they buy their morning coffee, has any people of color  partaking in that space, or employed there.

I’ve thought about this nearly all my life, and it’s something I continue to notice and think about.  And, so this is where I find myself wanting to go in 2016.  I plan on sharing conversations and interviews here from all kinds of people, black, brown, white, young, old, with varying perspectives on what crossing colorlines means to them, and whether they desire it, or think it is important or not, and why or why not.

When I think of why it’s always been important to me I think of what 1960’s and beyond activist, Xernona Clayton said during her workshop presentation at the 2013 Race Amity Conference.  She said she felt that being around those who are different than her makes hers, and life in general, richer. I’m with Xernona on that.

Please share your thoughts or ideas on how you’d like to see this subject approached, and/or if you’d like to be part of the conversation.  I’d appreciate your input.


SOURCES:, Study Shows How Children View Race Bias, posted by CNN

photo credit:, photo by Mo Scarpelli

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