Original Article written by Devon Kidd and posted to Huff Post on June 14, 2020.
“3 Questions White Students Should Ask Themselves Before Checking In On Black Classmates”
“What’s your name, where are you from, and what’s your funniest arrest or police story?”
In my Master’s of Fine Arts Play Rewriting Class at Columbia University last semester, guest speakers were often asked by my professor to pose an ice-breaker to accompany introductions. In prior sessions guests asked questions like, “What is your favorite meal?” or “Who are your playwriting inspirations?” to which I always had a lot to say.
But that question on that day immediately felt different as it echoed throughout my twenty-five-year-old Black male mind.
“Come on! What’s your craziest police story? I want to hear the wild ones,” posed the white female guest lecturer to our group of nine playwrights.
I am the only Black male playwright of the 2021 graduating year; there is one Black woman, and everyone else is white or white-passing. I wrestled with what to say to this seemingly nice and socially aware individual (the play we studied for her visit examines stereotypes women face in media representation).
Do I talk about how my heart stops every time I see a cop car on the road? I wondered. No. Not entertaining.
Do I talk about the day the police interrogated me, without any sense of compassion, about my grandfather’s death as he laid on our living room floor motionless after finally succumbing to stage four lung cancer once my panic-given CPR failed to save his life? Absolutely not. Too traumatic.
I dug deep within the cobwebbed-covered file cabinets of my mind to find a cute interaction with law enforcement, but all I found were tales of police harassment, fear-inducing traffic stops, and discrimination.
However, over the mental ruffling of papers and diary entrees that occurred in my own mind, my ears picked up on the laughter of my classmates. I stopped and listened……
Read the rest of the viral article at Huff Post https://www.huffpost.com/entry/white-students-checking-in-on-black-classmates_n_5ee4fff5c5b6d95e688129a6.