One of the most powerful learning experiences of my life is a recent one where, pursuing a personal goal to develop my “will, knowledge, skill and capacity” for interrupting social inequities, I signed up for a two-day training. The most significant learning took place around an exercise called “The Color Line.” After filling out a self-report questionnaire and scoring myself about the degree to which I experience privilege in my life, I placed myself on a continuum based on my score. I wasn’t surprised to find myself closer to the high end of the scale — I am, after all, a white woman — nor was I surprised to see the lowest scoring participants were people of color. What did surprise me were other patterns the trainers were able to predict: the high percentage of low-scoring participants who held doctorates, how the continuum progressed from darkest to lightest skin tone, the exception of a smattering of whites in the mid-range who turned out to be members of biracial families, for example. While that activity gave me — and other participants – a lot to think about, the trainers were savvy enough to not leave it at that. Our homework was
“The Child is Father to the Man.” That’s what Wordsworth wrote, and some months ago a three-year-old youngster demonstrated the truism (I want to pun it, ‘proved the altruism’) yet again. He and I were sitting in a car in a suburban parking lot, waiting for his grandma. Adric noticed, then looked closely at a black man striding across the parking lot. “He looks like you, Jonathan,” Adric said.The man was about 25, buff, cue-ball bald, nattily dressed. I am nearly 70 and white, and so I was puzzled, but at least wise enough sometimes to try to see things with a child’s eye. Still, the resemblance escaped me, until I scratched my bald head. There is hope for the multiracial society Adric is inheriting.