When he moved to Princeton from Saint Louis late last year, Steve Drake quickly joined Not in Our Town’s Continuing Conversation on Race and White Privilege (first Monday of every month at the Princeton Public Library). His enthusiasm about Debby Irving’s book Waking up White led NIOT board member, Simona Brickers, to contact Debby Irving about speaking in Princeton and create a program of discussions about the book. In January we invited Steve to answer the question in the title. His response is below:
In a white neighborhood roughly 35 minutes from Ferguson, the mere presence of a rapidly unfolding racial incident was an invitation to move from confusion and avoidance to constructive engagement. I opted to be part of the solution and not part of the problem when a white friend nudged me to participate in a year’s worth of courageous conversations with African Americans held in their St. Louis church.
I learned that white privilege applied to me and over time I could see how the media, government and society in general influenced my distorted views of African Americans.
One of the appeals of waking up to the realities of how African Americans experience race is that it has so much to offer the heart, mind and the human spirit. The experience has been transformational. What’s holding you back?