Black Coffee with White Friends: Cream & Sugar Book Club discussion

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GHOST BOYS & MLK'S CHICAGO > 4th Final Question- July 2020

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message 1: by Black Coffee with White Friends (last edited Jul 24, 2020 12:59PM) (new)

Black Coffee with White Friends | 194 comments Mod
Jerome tells about how he and his sister must be careful when walking to school, “We walk to school. Not too fast like we’re running; not too slow like we’re daring someone to stop us. Our walk has got to be just right.”

What was the racial tension like in the community where you grew up? What is it like where you currently live? Is there ever a time when you feel unsafe in your neighborhood? What dangers would present themselves if Jerome and his sister, Kim were walking in your neighborhood?


message 2: by Carrie (new)

Carrie Padgett (goodreadscomcarrie_padgett) | 22 comments I don't remember any racial tension growing up. But as an adult, I had an interesting experience in NYC. We were staying in NJ, and taking a shuttle bus through the Lincoln Tunnel. It was late and the other passengers were mostly POC, all colors, the domestics at hotels, wait staff, etc. It was late and they wanted to get home. The shuttle was delayed leaving and then we were stopped again. The passengers were restless. They got more and more vocal. My sister in law was terrified! She was certain she was going to be beaten and thrown out of the bus. Hubby and I weren't worried at all. We knew what was going on: a bunch of tired people who wanted to get home. SIL was shaking for half an hour after. Her perception of the incident was completely different from mine. That was eye opening for me.


Black Coffee with White Friends | 194 comments Mod
Carrie wrote: "I don't remember any racial tension growing up. But as an adult, I had an interesting experience in NYC. We were staying in NJ, and taking a shuttle bus through the Lincoln Tunnel. It was late and ..."

Carrie, I just had a moment like this in my family. We're moving to Chicago and when we shared what part of Chicago we were moving too, our family member who lives in the suburbs said, "Interesting choice." and then proceeded to warn us about the train. It was really weird for me because I lived in Chicago most of my life and am excited to move back to a city with a train. I couldn't understand the warning because we are moving to quite an affluent part of town--it's just more diverse than other places in Chicago. It was eye opening for me too but I didn't expect it from this family member.


message 4: by Carrie (new)

Carrie Padgett (goodreadscomcarrie_padgett) | 22 comments Black Coffee with White Friends wrote: "Carrie wrote: "I don't remember any racial tension growing up. But as an adult, I had an interesting experience in NYC. We were staying in NJ, and taking a shuttle bus through the Lincoln Tunnel. I..."

Interesting! I spent some time in Chicago last fall and loved it. Work took me there and I was in affluent suburbs, downtown, and the south side. I never felt unsafe (a white woman). Although I also never took the train ... I'd be interested to hear your thoughts after you're moved and settled.


message 5: by Katie (new)

Katie Hensley | 19 comments I love this question - thanks for prompting us to pause and reflect about it. :)

I moved to and grew up in a diverse southern town that had virtually segregated neighborhoods but was small enough for all the kids to go to the same public school. Second grade was my first full year there, and I remember feeling absolutely jarred by all of the students who didn't look like me. Our school was in a neighborhood that my family would never otherwise go to, and I had many Black teachers throughout my childhood. I'm grateful for the integrated nature of my elementary and middle schools (I know that they are not always the norm) and the relationships I developed in those spaces. Unfortunately, I also saw a lot of racism - enacted subtly and not-so-subtly by teachers, classmates, my family, and (sadly) myself. I'm curious to hear what the experience of my Black friends was like.

I currently live on the edge of a relatively affluent and mostly white neighborhood in Phoenix. It's adjacent to a historically Latinx neighborhood and close to our city's downtown. There is a park and multiple major thoroughfares within walking distance, so I frequently see people who don't look like me. I can't say I experience much racial tension here, but of course, that could just be my privilege talking. Due to the location, the police are always nearby. I hope that Jerome and Kim would feel safe walking in my neighborhood, but I'm white and I don't know that for sure. I do know that many BIPOC in the historically Black and Latinx parts of our city have called out economic injustice and a high police presence in their neighborhoods.

Ironically, I live in the city but I work in the suburbs. The district where I teach is largely middle- and upper-class and employs an overwhelmingly white teaching staff. I recently began following a long-standing advocacy group that watches out for the safety and representation of Black students in our district and in others in the metro area. They attend board meetings and work tirelessly to make sure our leadership hears from Black students. I am so thankful for their work and for the opportunity to learn from them; I know it takes great emotional labor on their part.

(Apologies for the length - a lot to reflect on here!)


message 6: by Annika (new)

Annika | 12 comments When I was growing up, I didn’t notice much racial tension, but now that I look back, I can see a bit more clearly that there actually was some. I grew up in a predominantly white community, so I didn’t think about race much. I was content in my little bubble. Now my family has moved to a new neighborhood where it’s more diverse, and so when I look back to my old neighborhood and the school district i was at, i realize that it was all very much geared towards the comfort and success of wealthy white people, but not so much for other people. I think I didn’t feel racial tension because I was ignorant and I feel like many of us were stuck in that bubble.


message 7: by L.A. (last edited Aug 18, 2020 09:55AM) (new)

L.A. Wiglesworth  | 6 comments Great question - and one I think about a lot. Grew up in White Suburbia outside of Kansas City. Currently live in a predominately white town in Florida (although much more diverse than Kansas). My sons are the minority being Black. I know they will have to live more mistake free lives than their white neighbor friends. I fear they won't get as much grace for things. For example a group of bored teenage girls were breaking into unlocked cars in our neighbhood and stealing sun glasses and other lose items. When the police caught them they cried, and everyone agreed to not press charges because it could really hurt these girls. I instantly wondered and doubted that when my sons are teenagers and strong, young black men that they will get the same grace. I could hear a police officer lecture me in my imagination "We need some tough love, they are on a dangerous path. They need to own up realize there are real consequences to their actions." All things I agree with. But why are we so quick to preserve the future of white girls, and so quick to teach a lesson to black boys? Why does preparing them for adult hood look so different.

And then obviously Ahmaud Arbery happened.

Will my sons be able to jog in the neighborhood? Can they run between houses and play hide and go seek with their friends?

I had a black friend in middle school. We were playing a game with nerf guns in the neighborhood. He said he couldn't play because his mom wouldn't let him play with toy guns. As a kid I thought he had a conservative mom. As an adult I wondered how much his mom thought of the optics of a Black Boy, running around with a "toy" gun...


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