Sunday, January 24, 2016

We are brothers

I'd like to share with you a part of a conversation that I had with a young man this week.
I had attended the UAW Region 9A Civil Rights Dinner in my role as AFT CT Executive VP but also as a member of the National Writers Union, a UAW local.
After the dinner, Jan, Ed and I were invited to a post dinner gathering by Region 9A Director, Julie Kushner.
I had the opportunity to speak with many interesting and inspiring people, including those who were honored for their work in the movement.
Among them were Carmen Dixon and Julius Jones of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Julius and I had the chance to chat, and this is where it gets interesting.
From the podium it was clear that he is a bright young man who understands the issues and can speak on them in an inspirational way, yet with humility and spirituality.
I found him to be the same when I spoke to him in person.
Although I am nearly twice his age and come from a vastly different background, we found a bond in our desire to understand each other and our belief that in spite of our differences, our core beliefs coincide.
We shared our journey on how we each came to be standing in that room that night.
We discussed how he attended an almost all black high school and I an almost all white and how each of us knew people close to us who have spent time in jail when treatment would have been a better option.
I told him how I had not understood "white privilege" or "driving while black" until recently and only after hearing from one friend that becoming a teacher seldom occurs to a child if there are no role models standing at the front of the classroom that look like themselves and by another friend how she could not drive in one town after dark without being stopped.
I told him that having friends tell me about these two issues made it personal to me.  It wasn't just someone on TV, it was my brother and my sister.
I told him that nursing never occurred to me until my 30's when it was suggested to me, because I had no male nurse role models.
I told him about this blog, he told me he likes to write, and I encouraged him to do so because he has a story to tell.

We parted knowing that in spite of our many differences, we are brothers.

I spoke to many people that night, many of them important in the political field and that is important for my members and for the movement, but my conversation with Julius is what it's all about. 
It's what Dr King dreamed of.
A day when we two people of different ages and color, from different backgrounds, can meet and come to know each other, and care for each other, a little better.

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