5 Things I’ve Learned from Kerra

By A.J. Langley,

  Filed under: lessons learned

  1. We are not the same. Yes, we’re all people with a lot of shared feelings and ideas, but my experience of the world is deeply different from a black person’s because of the way they might be treated at any moment because of what they look like. I can go months without ever worrying about that. So long as we are shaped by how other people treat us—or might treat us—we can’t separate race from identity. 
  2. All dealings between white people and black people take place in the shadow of the past. You can’t just pretend history doesn’t exist or wish it away because it’s what made the present. The playing field isn’t level and I have to be able to see that terms like “white privilege” which make me defensive are statements of historically constructed fact, not moral accusations directed at me as an individual. 
  3. You can share similar political views and still not understand where someone comes from. Getting there takes time, and it takes listening and responding with respect, with honesty and with kindness. 
  4. Racism is a moving target. It evolves with culture. What used to be acceptable ceases to be so, and the only way to deal with that is to accept it and move on. 
  5. In discussing race, the process is the product and vice versa. There were times when I found myself asking, like a kid on a road trip, Are We There Yet? But the answer is always no, and I came to realize that the journey really is the point of the trip. It’s not about a destination or about reaching Nirvana and sure as hell not about “winning.” It’s about the willingness to keep talking because keeping those lines of communication open which makes the thing worth doing.