conversation on race

Dear Nadia Owusu


My favorite blog this week was written by a woman named Nadia Owusu and published in Huffington Post.

A Conversation About Race in Trump’s America

I'd like to continue her conversation.

Dear Nadia,

We don’t know each other, but I loved your blog. Your words danced on the page with a feverish power and beauty, traveling right into my heart. Your stories, filled with bravery.

First let me say, "Thank you for sharing your heart."

Because you entitled it, "A Conversation About Race in Trump's America," I was hoping we could actually have one. 

I agree we have a long way to go, and a phrase I once read keeps coming up for me as I watch the arrogance of elected and appointed white men traipse across my social media feeds and network television.

White people in America have an unconscious sense of superiority.

I understand to stereotype "white" people is very simplistic as we have a melting pot of mixed peoples now living in America. Even my own white skin doesn't capture my Mi'kmaq or African roots (genetic testing will do wonders to bring us all together some day!). I think we can all understand what I mean by "white" for the purpose of this conversation.

This week, we celebrate Thanksgiving and, as glorious as it is to have an entire day devoted to gratitude, I can't help but imagine -- as I munch on turkey -- the terror in our native peoples. Our history began with genocide and we continue on the path of disregard.

However, what I'm talking about here is even more insidious than overt discrimination because it is unconscious (or subconscious, I don't know). 

White people have an unconscious sense of superiority.

This is not a statement to condemn white people or to make white people defensive about our individual or evolved awareness of racism. Nor is it a bleeding heart liberal gush of guilt.

It's just a simple fact.

This unconscious sense of superiority has polluted every social structure in our country and is very tricky to deal with.

Because of this right-under-the-surface everyday reality, a Trump win has been terrifying for those on the front lines of white superiority. Trump has embodied in mind and intention a caricature of this phenomenon. Of course, he’s white. But, on top of that, he openly condemns “minority” populations, which polarizes our community into the “us and them” mentality, reinforcing racism at its core. This polarization then emboldens those who want to assert their “superiority”. Worse yet, Trump associates himself with people whose white superiority is not unconscious. It's a mission statement. And these people are gaining traction in the ranks of national power structures.

How the hell did this happen?

To me, it feels like the end of the world. And it is. It's the end of my made-up world where I believed we’d actually made progress from our racist roots. That made-up world is crashing down around me as I witness this overt, in-your-face polarization of peoples and ideas. Van Jones called it Whitelash on the night of the election. At first, I wrestled with it. No! We’ve come so far! We can’t go back to a time where people actually do the “us and them” thing! Not white black. Not us them. No!

But then I realized...we never left that time. The idea that we did was all in my head. We are there more than ever, and always have been, in spite of what feels like great progress. Even a Barack Obama presidency didn't resolve it.

I've been depressed ever since I realized that.

But your blog re-energized me. I realized I'm not alone and that maybe this whole fiasco can be turned into something positive. Maybe this is the lancing of the boil that is racism in America. Maybe this is what it takes to finally heal. When we see the ugly ripping through our communities, we will be forced, once and for all, to finally see and not just run away to our separate neighborhoods. Maybe when the ugly blows up in our faces in such a devastating way, we can heal.

As the eminent writer, Nadia Owusu, once wrote:

“My words might be all wrong. You might not understand them. I might not understand you. So, I ask, willing to dare everything, furious and deeply sad, but still holding on to hope: Where do we go from here?”

We go to the puss and ugly.

Then we try to heal.


Let's keep this conversation going...


“Let neither think that anything short of genuine love, extreme patience, true humility, consummate tact, sound initiative, mature wisdom, and deliberate, persistent, and prayerful effort, can succeed in blotting out the stain which this patent evil has left on the fair name of their common country.”

(Baha'i Writings, The Advent of Divine Justice, p 40)