I’ve had the issues that I discussed yesterday at the forefront of my mind since then. I hope that I can continue to maintain the urgency I feel to actively dismantle racism.
On the plane ride home, I struck up a conversation with a pilot who was sitting next to me. He was reading a book about astronomy, and so we chatted about the stars. I recommended visiting the observatory outside of Marfa, TX. I explained that my favorite part was lying down and watching different constellations pointed out with the laser pointer. He shared that he had purchased his own powerful laser pointer for astronomical reasons. When he first got it, he opened the package and tried it out for the first time at a gas station. Suddenly, a nearby police officer was really agitated. Apparently, the laser was so powerful that it refracted off the windshield and ended up shining on a police officer’s chest.
I immediately thought of all the black people who have been killed because of their perceived threat to police offers. And here was a white male who doesn’t have to carry around fear in the same way. So I said, “It’s a good thing you aren’t a black person because that may have gotten you killed.”
After I said it, I realized that it could have been perceived as a racist joke rather than an opportunity to point out white male privilege in an attempt to dismantle it. I’m still not sure how he received it. In the end, I’m not sure it was the right thing to say. I know we need to talk about race and racism a whole lot more, but I’m still learning how to do it in ways that push the movement forward as quickly as possible. This work is definitely messy and complicated.