Building That Rocket Ship

A few days ago, I shared a post about being out in front of the Nets arena in Brooklyn with the Please Talk With Me About Race sign. After an intense conversation with Donald and Crystal, two African American young adults, about a range of topics — media framing of protests, racial discrimination in criminal justice, and the impact of white privilege — both of them concluded that there wasn’t much we could do to end racism in America. I wrote that I felt a sense of despair in that moment.

I had given Donald my email address because we were hoping we had captured some of the conversation on video and could share it. The video didn’t work out, but the next day, I got this heartening message from him:

“Great conversation yesterday!!! Crystal and I really enjoyed speaking with you. I can’t tell you how talking

Jennifer in Boston, at the start of our sign "work shift" on the Common.

Jennifer in Boston, at the start of our sign “work shift” on the Common.

to you changed me. I appreciate you for having the courage to try to reach for the ‘moon’ … If I can ever do anything to help you build the spaceship to get there I will.”

That made my day. When we were out on the Boston Common, the Arabic-speaking Saudi students we spoke to ended our conversation with heartfelt thanks for being there. “It is good to know there are people like you in the world,” Majed translated for Sattam. Earlier that afternoon, a light-skinned, maybe white, woman moving briskly down the path with her much darker-skinned little girl call out to us, “Oh, that’s great! Thank you!”

These messages are keeping Keren and me going on this book tour and sign project. It turns out, a lot of people want to help build that rocket ship to the moon. They want to know you are willing to talk about race. Maybe you just need to give them a sign!

May 3, 2015 Blog Posts