i attended a 50th birthday party last night. Of someone i have met twice…
i was in the minority [as a white person] and one of the youngest people in the room [which doesn’t happen a lot for me] and it was such a complete vibe.
In fact, as tbV will attest, being in a space with fifteen to twenty people where i only know two of them [the hosts] is traditionally one of my absolute worst spaces to be in. i could easily be found hiding in the toilet for an hour cheering on the ticking clock… this didn’t happen last night and although it started off a little awkwardly, conversation did start up and i was included and spent a lot of time speaking to different people about superficial and a host of much deeper things…
One of the highlights for me was that i got to speak to more Indian people than i have for a very long time. [probably since i stayed in Chatsworth for a week in 1994 and heard some great perspectives on the rugby transformation and food [one guy was a chef] and South Africa].
With some raised toasts to the birthday guy, cake and bubbles and Springbok shots and cigars and a favourites playlist all added to the vibe as small pockets of conversation were happening in different spaces under the stars.
Last night’s party was a happy accident but more often than not it needs to be intentional and thought out, although once your friends and community groups start not looking like you then it becomes a lot more natural.
i don’t hate white people – as i’m accused of, usually in my blog comments by people using fake names and fake email addresses so know how deeply personal i take those, ha! – but i do try to seek out spaces where everyone doesn’t look like me because of the richness and flavour and beautiful things that can happen when we come together and listen and share stories and hear diverse perspectives on things we care about [looking at you, cricket!] and i firmly believe you are missing out if all of your spaces look like you.
i am so super grateful for all of the people who don’t look like me who are part of my friends and family and community. i absolutely see your colour. And it is a thing of beauty and richness and difference worth celebrating.
[And to be absolutely honest, if i look back at the last five years of digging deeper into race and justice and transformation issues it has been predominantly white people who have tried to make me feel like crap along the way… but fortunately i have as many stories of white people who have been absolute gold and held my arms and advised and held me accountable and encouraged me to keep going at the same time, and i love and appreciate you as well].
What do the spaces you inhabit look like? And who do you invite to sit across from you and next to you at your dinner table? And who gets to hang out at your party?
[For white people, this would link to tips #5 and #6 on this list of 40 things for those asking ‘But what can I do?’ to make a difference in South Africa]