Chenjerai Kumanyika is my new hero. He used to write and perform music. He is an American with a funny name. He is a journalist and writer of poetry. He talks a lot about race. He has a degree in communications.
That description sounds a lot like. . . well. . . me.
But of course there are some differences. For one, he is a black guy in South Carolina. I’m a white girl in Maryland. Another is that he has a Ph.D. and has a ton of professional bylines out there. I have my skimpy bachelor’s and this blog (and a forthcoming novel about racial and economic stereotypes, but more about that later).
I heard him on NPR this morning talking about an unarmed teen who was killed by police in Seneca, SC. He was upset by it. Then he found out the teen was white.
And he was still upset about it.
This is how we should all be talking. This is how people of different backgrounds become one group of people who care. We are so polarized by the color of our skin, the neighborhood we grew up in, the knee-jerk politics, that we miss the point.
Compassion is for everyone and I am so glad that Chenjerai took this step – to visit the boy’s vigil and see clearly a different angle from his own.