Call and Response

Annie is the name of one of my new co-workers.  Just saying her name it’s hard not to have a smile on your face; Annie is not a “hard-core” name.  She embodies her name with an extremely sweet disposition and is just an overall nice girl.  She just turned 24 and is still trying to accept life outside of her sorority house and not living the life of an undergrad anymore.  Running is her favorite pastime and she talks lovingly about her parents.  Yesterday she said to me:

Kelly, I didn’t mean to eavesdrop on your conversation earlier but I know you’re upset about that young man who got killed in Florida.  And I am sorry you feel sad.

She caught me off guard because I had been on the phone with a friend talking about Trayvon Martin and how emotionally disturbed I’ve been the past few days.  I told my friend how odd it was for me to be in a work environment where it seemed like no one knew or wanted to acknowledge this story.  Granted I have only been at this job for a month and I’ve noticed there isn’t a lot of water-cooler chatter happening about any topic other than work, so I realize I need to mind my business and not bring personal into the 9 to 5.  I thanked Annie for speaking up and asking me about it.  We discussed the nature of the case since I could tell she only knew limited details.  I left her looking shocked and bewildered.  When I told her that one of the main reasons I was so upset was because I keep thinking about all of my friends’ sons and how difficult it must be to raise young black men.  She said:

You know, as a white female I’ve never thought about it.  I’ve never thought that I would be perceived as being threatening to someone else.  I cannot imagine what that must be like.

Her response made me smile and cry at the same time.  I appreciated her a-ha moment because this All-American girl with long blonde hair and blue eyes would not know and will never truly understand.  I am glad she overheard my phone call because in the end the response I got from her was priceless.  I could see something behind her eyes click as if she had a mini-awakening. An awakening is what we need as a nation.  We need a global awakening.

I loved seeing the support at the Million Hoodies March and my Facebook friends who took the time to post their own hoodie photo.  My favorite Facebook image had to be this one:

This is my friends’ son Christopher.  He’s 13 years old, a great student, and accomplished swimmer and equestrian.  This image shows Christopher’s everyday spirit.  His mom said it broke her heart to tell him why she wanted to take a picture of him in a hooded sweatshirt.   It breaks my heart too.


11 thoughts on “Call and Response

  1. Beautiful story, Kelly. Annie lives up to the sweet name. More so, I can’t wait to share Christopher’s amazing presence from this picture. Can’t wait to spread the story.

    • Owen could easily be Christopher who could easily be Trayvon. It’s scary. I was telling people that boycotting Florida seems to be a great way to start making some extra noise. Money does the talking. Imagine what would happen to tourism if families stayed away from the beaches and Disney World?

      • Tracy shared this w/ me. Good post. Don’t take it too hard that after a month people aren’t interested in talking about social issues in the office. I find myself focused most of the time on doing the best job I can, and have learned to appreciate those in my life outside of the office where I can discuss personal & political beliefs. That’s what makes everyday outside of work so special. However, your post wasn’t lost on me. I agree. Trayvon is me. I’m trying to figure out how we can make this a uniting opportunity instead of a divisive one. Thoughts?

      • I agree I need to step back and realize that not all work environments are the place for daily hot topic conversations. The majority of my work places had been so this was kind of new to me. I worked in news for almost a decade (that’s how I met Tracy), at a dot com that focused on women’s issues and then for a multicultural advertising agency for 7 years, so this type of news story would have been second nature to discuss around the office. If I were to offer up any solutions to make this a uniting opportunity it would be to realize it is time to implement new curriculum in our school systems. Diversity and cultural sensitivity courses need to be standardized curriculum beginning in grade school, so the awareness can be implemented early. I’m not using calculus in my everyday life, but cultural awareness is used on a daily basis.

  2. I’ve got chills and goosebumps on my arms. This story has really touched me too. I am a black mother and have a black son who is 21. I know very well, it could have been him or any other young black man or boy.

    • God bless you and your family. Even with all the faith and preparation in the world, I am sure there had to be a lot of fears over the past several years (and maybe there still is) about your son’s well being as he navigates the world. I’m keeping your son and all the Trayvons out there in my prayers.

  3. My oldest nephew got me a hoodie a few Christmases ago. I hardly wear it, but you know what: I’ve found a higher use for it.

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