this week has been a little bit full.
had a date on monday (went well), worked furiously to get ready to leave town for a conference meeting on tuesday, was in indianapolis on wednesday for my meeting, flew back, worked furiously on thursday to catch up and now - hey! more working furiously while also getting ready for a church retreat over the weekend, a birthday party and maybe a tennis date.
speaking of church, here's a little story i haven't had a chance to share. it reminded me that, as progressive as my congregation is, it has a LOOONG way to go to recognize something that Macon D over at Stuff White People Do has written about here and here. (And has posted a fine analysis of non-white reaction to what white people do here.)
i was with some church folks at a farewell reception for a church colleague. most of the people there were from Session, some i recognized from my years as Deacon, and some from my position as board member on the non profit organization housed at the church. in other words, these were not complete strangers to me.
but as the cocktail party wore on, it became clear that people did not recognize me to the same extent that i recognized them.
little old white ladies rushed up to me and cooed, 'oh, stacy! it's so good to see you here!' repeatedly, they did this - even after someone else had introduced me as 'Ding,' member of the Such&Such Board. oh, the stiff smile i'd wear as their eyes would blink and flutter and i could see their confusion, which probably sounded a little like this:
'what? but - but - stacy is The Black Girl! this is a Black Girl, so...this must be stacy! but she says she's not stacy! but she must be! why isn't she stacy?!'
when i put in my requisite 90 minutes of cocktailing, i sat in the lounge area to check my messages on my cell phone. a man from the reception came up to me, hugged me and said, 'oh, stacy! it was really good to see you tonight!'
i had been standing next to this man when the departing executive director of our organization publicly thanked me for my service on the board - and said my name.
flatly, i said, 'i'm not stacy.'
he said, 'oh.' silence. uncomfortable silence as i stared at him, with my cell phone in my hand. i was not smiling.
he said, 'well, it was good to see you.' and rushed away while i really tried not think bad thoughts about white people - and failed.
who is stacy? stacy is the african american woman who runs the very successful tutoring and mentoring program at our church. stacy and i look nothing alike.
and, clearly, the white people i serve with at church think she and i are exactly the same person. this is not the first time this has happened to me. at our mission benefit, at a board dinner, and during coffee hour while i stand at our organization's table during a fundraising campaign - i am every other black woman in church except who i really am.
do white people really not see the differences between us? do we really blur and blend into indistinguishable shapes? are we just all brown and black and yellow blobs that float indistinctly in and out of white vision?
this is the kicker: not one person apologized for mistaking me for stacy. not a single word of apology passed their thin, christian lips.
The Joy of Translating
1 month ago