I want to talk about black people

But it’s hard for me to talk about “them” all together. I mean, if I try to start a sentence with “Black people all…” or “They always…”—well, I can’t think of a way to finish that sentence. Because I can’t think of anything that’s true about all the black people I know, much less about all black people everywhere. For example:

  • Greg is a big black guy who moves like a cat on the tennis court, surprising me with well-placed shots that bounce in unpredictable directions.
  • Alvy is a tender black father raising a gentle black son who is deciding which college he wants to attend next year. Alvy loves it that his son comes to him for advice.
  • Dolores is an older black woman who stays on Facebook so she can be a positive presence in her young niece’s life. We joke about keeping up with technology.
  • I don’t know Ruby very well; just some basic facts. Like, she was a nurse for about 30 years. And she’s good at balancing a checkbook.
  • Otis is a black postal worker who plays drums at my church and sings soulfully enough to bring tears to my eyes.
  • Barack is a black man I know mainly through reading about him. He’s a writer, like me, and I appreciate his wordsmithing ability and his sense of humor.
  • Curtis is a black woman who was named after her father. Her full name is Curtistine, which I love, but she prefers to go by Curtis in honor of him.
  • Mary and Amalia are both black married women, and they may be about the same age, but I can’t think of two more opposite people.
  • Jason is a black man whose childhood was the complete opposite of mine, but today I have more in common with him than just about anyone else I can think of—writing, tennis, Apple products, business models, values, and spiritual dreams.

So I find it difficult to talk about black people. Because I don’t know “black people.” I know Greg. I know Amalia. I know Curtis and a few others. They’re all different from each other. And they’re probably different from whatever stereotypes I might have about them.

Is this all that racism is—seeing people as “them,” rather than getting to know “him” and “her”?


9 thoughts on “I want to talk about black people”

  1. Hi Melanie, what a great article you wrote about the Black people you know. I love how you listed and commented about each one, because we are all individuals. Again you are such a great writer and person.


    • Thank you, Bev! Your encouragement means a lot to me, and I’m glad to be reassured that I didn’t say anything offensive—especially since I didn’t tell any of these people ahead of time that I would be mentioning them by name in my blog!

      If I had included you in the list above, I would have said, “Beverly is a gentle black woman who bears pain gracefully and is intentional about encouraging others online and in person.” I am glad you are in my life, Bev.

  2. Thank you for mentioning me. I love you. You are truly my sister in Christ. I didn’t enter my last name because there are only two Alvys, me and my son. He’ll be going to Olivet Nazarene University, a christian college that will be a continuation of all his previous christian education starting from 1st grade. You’re special. Wonderful article.

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