Invisible Upsouth

For years I had been friends with Christopher Johnson on Facebook.  It wasn’t until this past fall I actually had a chance to get together and speak with him in person.  I had checked out some of his performances on youtube that he had posted and I really enjoyed his poetry and spoken word.  “I want to pick your brain one day,” was the email I sent him.  A month or so later we met for coffee to discuss writing and I checked out a couple of his shows over the months to come.  Right around the time I met him, he told me he may be writing a play based on Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man (not to be confused with The Invisible Man, totally different).  I never read the book Invisible Man, but According to this article and advertisement at Broadway.com it was “Inspired by Ralph Ellison’s masterpiece novel Invisible Man, Invisible UpSouth aims to challenge the way traditional theater-going audiences think about race and humanity and how they move through the world; how one can be well-educated and still blind to the world around them.”1.  I know it was written in the 50’s and addresses the issue of feeling invisible in society as a black man.  Christopher had taken this play and rewritten it into a present day black man in Providence RI, along with the assistance of Vatic Kuumba.
I knew I had to catch this show Sunday because it was closing day and I had promised I would show my support, plus, I really wanted to see this show!    Now, I’ve seen a few of Christopher’s shows before and I know that this man has a way with words, but I was in no way prepared for this experience.
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White Washed World

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So I went to the bookstore after work today to kill some time before picking up my son from work.  I wasn’t really looking for anything in particular but the more I walked around browsing, the more I started thinking of books I wanted to check out.  So I was looking in religion and philosophy,  trying to find some books on spirituality.   I asked the woman if she had any books on Native American spirituality and she said that religion, philosophy and self help were all in the same section grouped together.   She said diet and yoga books were next to it as well. I advised her I was no longer allowed to buy diet books because it was my new year’s resolution.
I continued looking around and thought about checking out history, so I asked the young man if he could point me in the direction of the history books.  He guided me over and asked if I was looking for anything particular.   I quickly browsed the wall to see the faces of Trump, Washington  (not Denzel), and Truman.  “Yes!” I replied, “Could you tell me if you have any NON-WHITE history books?” “Uhhhh. Hmmmm…” he said as he looked over the shelves.  “It’s interesting isn’t it?” I said to him, “I bet you don’t get asked that question too often, do you?” Especially by a white lady I thought in my head.  He found about 2 books and 1 on Native American once I specified that I was looking for that.  I walked around a bit more and was able to find a table with several books on black history or by black authors but I’m guessing that is because it is February.
It really made me realize what a white world we live in.  I’m bringing attention to this because it’s something I didn’t notice that much until I read India Arie’s essays about skin bleaching allegations.   Obviously this is something people of color deal with all the time, but as a white woman I never realized it.  It has never been intentional,  and trust me I have a rainbow of friends, but I was oblivious.

I’m bringing it up because I feel it’s important.  It’s important that people not be ignorant.  It’s important people take the time to look at the world through another view, not just the white world view.  I’m saying this so that people will take the time to step into another’s shoes.  Realize this is just one of the examples of white privilege.
I’m curious as to what people think of this.  We need to talk about race and racism in America and not be blind.  It still exists.  Ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away so let’s talk about it.  With respect,  with love and with open minds.  Please share your comment below.