Optimism, advocacy, connection

I got out of the car to go into Earth Fare last night thinking about Robyn Paulete’s FB post about activating our optimism muscles.  I was remembering many of my African American friends from Fort Worth, Austin, Chapel Hill, Durham, Pittsboro and Asheville from whom I’ve learned so much throughout my life. I felt the sense of optimism I have felt when friends have supported me where I am. I felt the sense of optimism and courage I get when I stand up in support of my former and current friends and friends I haven’t met yet. When I stand up for myself and what I envision in this world. When I stand for what feels to me just, loving and whole.   After getting my groceries and walking out of Earth Fare I said hey to the cop who opened the door.  I noticed that I wasn’t afraid of him, and that I can attribute that to my white skin.  I kept walking toward the car.  It was after 10:00 and I was ready to get on with the 1/2 hour drive home.

Continuing to walk, I felt the internal struggle between what I was wanting right then (to go home!) and what I’m feeing called to these days (making love and standing for justice, in whatever form it takes).  I turn around and go back and strike up a conversation with the cop. I walk up, shake his hand and begin talking.   I tell him that I can’t imagine how it feels to wear that uniform. Then I say that neither can I imagine how it feels to have black skin.  The conversation is curious, probing, and respectful.  I notice the differences in our perspectives, and I stand in my truth without seeking to highlight our differences.copskids2_0.img_assist_custom-275x240   Another guy (tall guy who works behind the salad bar) who’s standing nearby pipes in and the conversation deepens further. Law enforcement, fear, politics, leadership… We consider the challenges we’re all facing, some of us more on the front lines than others, but all having some part to play. I say that I’d like to see more of these kinds of conversations, with as many voices as possible, so that we don’t wait until we’re in hair trigger situations where the stakes are dangerously high. After 20-25 minutes I walk away wondering if the conversation made any sort of difference. It felt like all three of us were engaged and paying attention to each other.  I noticed that I felt enlivened by the interaction and occasional points of connection. I noticed that I never have any idea of the results of my actions, and I noticed that it felt good, to all my relations, to reach out with love and respect.  I noticed that I felt just a little more optimistic about the world as I drove home. And I’m drawn to reconnect with some old friends that I haven’t spoken with in way too long….  —– I ran across this while looking for images for this post: http://allstars.org/copsandkids 

Daniel Barber

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