I am Nanette, a writer currently living in Buffalo, N.Y., USA. I never wanted to be a “black writer.” People only call Van Jones or Ta-Nehisi Coates when all hell breaks loose involving black people. But you know, Van Jones graduated from Yale Law School, was once voted among the 12 Most Creative Minds On Earth, and was tight friends with The Artist Formerly Known as Prince. I’ll bet he could hold court most magnificently for hours on an ocean of topics other than race. I dreaded becoming pigeon-holed to that subject as a writer and speaker.
But President Obama’s first run for office showed me that there were indeed white people in our society who wanted desperately to start really talking across lines about race in an informed and respectful way but just didn’t know how. I felt compelled to step into that and be helpful.
As a writer, I offer practical, relatable ideas. Life is messy. Facts are facts and they certainly have their place. Too often though, when the facts and our feelings don’t line up we shut down instead of simply acknowledging there is an incongruity and we’re at an impasse. For example, a white man might say I don’t have any issues with black people but I wouldn’t want my daughter to marry one. Ok, that thinking is laden with incongruities.
But it is what it is; it is real for that dude.
So say it out loud, be real about it, and let’s work from there.
What that guy would normally do is just say nothing, or trip over his tongue trying to figure out what’s politically correct to befit the conversation he finds himself in at the moment. If that’s all he’s doing, we can never get to the real talk that might actually help him to solve this incongruity. No one outside of his own already confused mind could offer anything to get in there to help him rearrange those ideas in a way that would allow for change and lead him to congruity.
In my worldview, “agree” or “disagree” are not concepts that have any real place in this discussion. Experience is king; unaffected feeling is king. You can’t agree or disagree with someone else’s experience or feelings, what does that even mean? We’re all just honestly sorting things out. Experience, feelings, and interpretation are deeply personal, deeply subjective, and just… messy.
But that’s all right. This site is a real forum where I hope you’ll see yourself in my ideas in a way that will help you work out and further articulate to others your own questions and ideas.
I am working on my first book. It is to be a primer on how to navigate conversations about race with confidence, humor, and humility from nothing but an authentic place of desiring to do your part for a better world.
Welcome to the conversation…