Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Race Card Project: Oh my gosh. I'm white too.

"You may not control all the events that happen to you,
but you can decide not to be reduced by them."
~Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter

You may or may not have heard about The Race Card Project, an idea that began with Michele Norris, of All Things Considered fame, and her desire to take the nation's pulse on race and start a conversation. The idea was to think about experiences, questions, hopes, dreams, laments or observations about race and identity and then turn those thoughts into a six word sentence. Since she started, this has blossomed into a project that has piqued the interest of many, not only across The United States, but all over the world. It's a fascinating venture that is published on this website.

Some of the stories are funny, while others are heartbreaking. Some you'll be able to relate to, while others will make you uncomfortable. Fascinating to me, really. All in the name of understanding and having a conversations. I'm all for it. I mean, are not we all cousins anyway? Hey, that's six words... :)

You can even make your own "race card," which of course I jumped at the chance of doing.

So here's my submission, which has not yet been published on the site, maybe it never will be. I'm not sure. They must be reviewing thousands of submissions. Who knows. If Michele decides to publish it on the site, I'll update this post with a link. Cross your fingers!

Oh my gosh. I'm white too.
by Emery Smith, Salt Lake City, UT

I grew up in San Francisco where being a white kid in public school placed you in the minority. Most of my friends were Chinese, Japanese, Korean, black, or some mixed combination. We were like a mini U.N. With my very pale skin and light blue eyes, I was different. People would comment on how fair my skin was or how blue my eyes were. I felt noticed.

When I moved to Provo, Utah to go to college, I felt somewhat out-of-place in this "vanilla-city," full of so many "foreign" looking faces...that were white. One day, well into my freshman year, while walking down a very long hallway at school, I spotted a tall, very good looking black man at the other end. Immediately, I felt a connection and hoped that he would notice me too. As we walked towards each other, my thoughts turned to why I might notice him among the many faces in the crowded hallway. "Well, he's tall. {I'm 5'10", myself.} He's stunning. And, he's black. He's different." With my eyes glued to him, willing him to look up and notice me (the other "different" one in the crowd), I suddenly realized why he wasn't giving me a second look... "I blend in. I'm not different. I am lost in this sea of white faces. Oh. My. Gosh. *I'm* white, too."

(Oh and random piece of trivia for you today... Michele pronounces her first name MEE-shell.)


Becky said...

I love it. I hope she does publish it. I think your childhood is so interesting. San Francisco is such a unique city to grow up in. Utah must have REALLY been a shock.

Love you and I'm glad your blogging again. I've missed your posts.

rawhide said...

I love your slogan....I've never heard of the race card project. Sounds interesting!!!