Please, just stop it.

​I find myself to be the only Black person in a lot of situations. Today, I’m the only one at a strategic planning meeting.  During the break, a man tried really hard to find common ground with me. He had Virginia stories and fish out of water stories, and then he did the thing that makes me cringe the most. It was like nails on a chalkboard. I wanted to stop him before the words came out of his mouth and walk away. I knew it was coming and there was nothing polite I could do to prevent it.

He held up his hand and began to count. “I have a Black son-in-law. He’s a nice guy. I also have a Guatemalan son-in-law. Wait, not Guatemala. Where is he from? Oh well, it’s one of those countries.  Their wives love them and I have brown eyed grandchildren.”

I know he was trying relate to me. I know he wanted to communicate that he thought he had some understanding of who I am. That was certainly not the way to do it.

Sir, I’m a person, just like you. My skin is different than yours. My culture is different than yours. As a result, my experience and perspective is different from yours. Telling me of the collection of non-white people in your life does not mean that you can relate to my life from a racial perspective. Please, just stop it. 

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