Chapter Four – Passage Eight
Addressing a systemic and perpetual racism that’s been endemic to America since even before its founding is not a particular battle I’m currently in the mood of waging so I’m eager to change the subject. Also, speaking from personal experience, I’ve found that this particular conversation– a well-off, privileged white male who’s been spoiled and sheltered his whole life (me) speaking to an aggrieved black person who’s probably faced implicit bias his entire life and likely at least a few bouts of outright discrimination growing up (Coleman) is, in all likelihood all my lived life experience would empirically suggest, not a winning argument for me.
In Coleman’s defense, my white ancestors way back when who arrived on the Mayflower or whatever weren’t exactly model citizens by 21st century standards. Slavery in America got its start in 1619 in Jamestown and chances are you’ll find one of my ancestors of the ancient Fletcher name among the ranks if you reach back far enough. Put succinctly, we’re certainly not proud of the human trafficking and whip-cracking that Great-Great-Great-Grandpa Fletcher most definitely engaged in on those slave ships crossing the Atlantic during the early 1600s. Let’s just say it wasn’t a topic of conversation around the dinner table when Devana and I were children at home growing up.
But, to be fair, in my defense, Great-Great-Great-Grandpa Fletcher was five generations ago! That’s literally, I kid you not, nearly half a millennia! I’ve never met the guy! And I most cateorically, unequivocally in the strongest language possible, don’t condone any of the many crimes against humanity and outright contraventions of the Geneva Convention (which obviously didn’t exist back then) that he partook in! In my experience, I’ve only met black people at college and at work. The only black folks I’ve ever known were either fellow engineering classmates back at university or were fellow data scientists on consulting gigs that I’ve worked at. They were all super-smart, well-spoken, competent, and highly professional. Honestly, really, the only generalizable observation in my own personal experience that I can make about black people is that they –at least the folks I’ve met– do speak with a very specific cadence and lilt in their speech that seems to be uniquely black (similar to how many American southern folks speak with a distinctive twang and regional accent in their voices).
Anyway, nothing I say at the moment is going to placate Coleman. So my best move now is to find a way to extricate myself from this deepening conversational sinkhole that I’ve suddenly found myself in.
Luckily for me, Katherine saves the day.