I think, R. Nash, that my piece is or should be uncomfortable and contradictory, if only because the experience of white people experiencing race in the United States is so uncomfortable and contradictory. Of course, the people I’m writing this to, who I think will resonate with the most discomfort as I write, are white people who grew up similarly to how I grew up.
When I talk about rejecting racism even while growing up racist, what I’m saying doesn’t make sense on its face. I seem to be saying two different things at the same time — perhaps out of a dissonant, (intentionally) dishonest manipulation of the definition of the word.
I don’t do it to congratulate myself or my father, but to confront the dissonance.
I’m plucking two strings on the harp at the same time, and they’re out of tune. The combination hurts the ears. Or at least it’s supposed to.
I want people to finish the piece thinking they understood it, but feeling like something isn’t quite right. About the piece, about their experiences, about how they view race and privilege.
And then I want them to puzzle over it for a while. And confront their demons.
Tall order for a few hundred words, I know, but I’m an artist. Audacity is part of the craft.