Wednesday, April 05, 2006

It's the Little Things

It’s the Little Things; Everyday Interactions That Anger, Annoy, and Divide the Races by Lena Williams is “candid and enlightening – what blacks and whites say about each other, but not to each other”. Having lived most of my life in diverse environments, I found this book illuminating and a bit amusing at times. Williams has collected stories, opinions, pet peeves and complaints from blacks and whites about the cultural and social differences between the races. Everyone ought to read this book and then we could have some really interesting conversations!! I am going to put my copy on the faculty share shelf and see if anyone else will pick it up and discuss it.

The most amusing chapter IMO was the one about parties. I went to a black high school and I later lived in a city neighborhood that was mostly black. When I think of a party, I think of a room jumping with music and laughter and great food, where the party starts revving up around 9 or 10 and goes all night. Since I moved to the suburbs most of the parties I have been invited to are white, quiet, over early, made up of mostly chit chat and finger foods and really boring. I used to think it was because I lost my good friends or got old or had kids and that was the end of good parties. But now that I read this book I think I am just not getting invited to the right parties these days!! J

Another interesting chapter talks about how white girls with long straight hair tend to finger it a lot and flick it over their shoulders or behind their ears in a habitual way. Many of the blacks in this book complained that they found that offensive and rude. As if it were a power play or an arrogant display intended to claim the top spotlight. I can see how it would easily be taken as arrogance and rudeness to folks for whom hair care and hair issues are a major heartache.

Other chapters cover public places, school, home, workplace, and the mass media. I find it is hard for many white people to start these discussions because we are afraid we will be taken as racist. Maybe black feel the same, or feel they won’t be listened to or taken seriously? I really believe if we had more books like this, more information sharing and more discussion on these subjects we would have better relationships, friendships and work alliances across the racial lines. This is a book to read and share and pass on.

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