A Stumbling, Bumbling, Uncomfortable, Awkward, Hypothetical Conversation by a White Guy

We are suffering apart but at least
you have community in that suffering.
Community suffering is something that
we really don’t know and therefore we

don’t even know how to acknowledge
suffering and so we suffer silently
without really knowing what it is
because we are all in denial — unlike

you standing on the street corner under
the light of Michigan and 111th, sharing
a bottle in a plain paper bag, while we
sit at home watching sports and then you

get it on Saturday night at the jive joint
as they call it on NPR radio on Saturday
night or you visit one-of-a-kind mom and
pop restaurants with roast beef or meat-

loaf specials and we visit upscale bistros
nodding causally at casual acquaintances
as they pass, while you, together, cautiously
enter the mean streets looking out for Mr.

Charley in a blue suit and we just get up
and go home to have an early evening in
preparation for our orderly community
gathering on a Sunday morning but, in real-

ity, is simply, in fact, a place of ethnic
justification, while we near unconsciously,
ceremoniously and perfunctorily pass a
plate of wafers and tiny cups of grape

juice while listening to nice music and
then go home and have the minister for
lunch because he started stepping on our
toes and we don’t pay him for that and

maybe you do that, too, so that’s, at least,
something we have in common and, of course,
I’m generalizing and stereotyping and probably
glamorizing your black suffering like we

whites do with Indians, but, seriously, given
things as they are, I don’t know what else to
do, and so I hope I, at least, got a little
something right and maybe I should just shut

up and listen. Sorry about the white privilege.

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