Thursday, October 06, 2005

American Symphony

Below is a letter I've written in response to an article attacking a friend of mine for convening a gathering for women of color that caused contraversy at her university. We are living in a strange time as far as race goes. Enjoy.

Dear author

I just read your article about the recent gathering for Women of Color at Northeastern and wanted to respond. An analogy that I've heard many times regarding these kinds of gatherings goes like this, America in all its diversity is like an orchestra that when it works well plays magnificent, soul stirring music. From time to time, in order to work on their parts, the different sections get together on their own and rehearse. They then return to the orchestra and because they have practiced on their own they are able to contribute to the harmony of the whole. The women of color gathering is similar. In order to make their contributions to the betterment of all Americans, people of color need opportunities to come together and work on their part. They need the freedom and safety to do so without others insisting on being there. Why is that so threatening to people? Your article suggests that you have felt accused of being an oppressor or racist at times and you suggest that because of your family history you cannot be held responsible for slavery. I believe that all of us have to get free of the tired debates about who's to blame, who's a racist, an oppressor and so on. It is simply irrelevant. All Americans have a stake in working to eliminate racism from our society because racism is bad for all Americans and is bad for humanity. Period. I think that people have to ask themselves why a few women from minority backgrounds getting together for a few hours of their lives is worthy of such strong reactions. These ladies did not advocate some radical racial separation for all time, enslaving white Americans or overthrowing the government. They met, had a conversation that from what I understand was empowering to them and then went right back to their multiracial American lives. There are many things happening in America at this very moment that are worthy of passionate outrage. The Women of Color meeting is simply not one of them.