. . . How? Walk the Walk, Even for a Moment

By Kelley, Tina | The Christian Science Monitor, September 2, 1997 | Go to article overview

. . . How? Walk the Walk, Even for a Moment


Kelley, Tina, The Christian Science Monitor


I am entirely unqualified to talk about race. I am a middle-class, largely unoppressed white woman. But I want to do something about racial tension, and there are others like me who wonder where to start.

The only way to fix things is to talk, listen, and learn. People of different races have to know each other. But how do you go about Making a Friend of a Certain Race? The project sounds righteously patronizing and smacks of tokenism. Still, it's harder to learn anything about race without a friend who can explain.

In college, when I wanted to know what black people thought about something, I asked my roommate, Carol, and she would tell me to go ask them.

She also told me about the pain of seeing surprised, disappointed looks from job interviewers who believed her face didn't match her resume. I wouldn't have known about this, except from her.

I don't know what it feels like when neighbors of a crime scene I'm reporting on refuse to answer the door because they fear me. But some of my journalist friends do.

I wish I lived in a time when no one says, "If you don't get that job, it's only because you're white." I know they're thinking the hurtful inverse of that statement, about people of color in the workplace.

I'm lucky to have a friend, a former co-worker, who forgave my mistaking him initially for the other black reporter in the newsroom. …

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