Looking for AmericaPosted May 22nd, 2011 by Thomas Norman DeWolf
Friday, May 20, 12:51 pm, Denver, Colorado
I sit in the airport after my first two flights today; one more to go to arrive in New York where Sharon will pick me up at La Guardia. We begin our 5,700 mile road trip through 15 states this weekend — mostly in the South and Midwest. Paul Simon’s voice runs through my head — “They’ve all come to look for America…”
Sharon and I have planned this road trip for many months. We’re looking for an America that places a higher priority on Truth, Justice, Mercy, and Peace and less on profits and power and war. Sharon’s most recent blog post — BACK TO AFRICA — preys on me. As much as I believe in the healing model Sharon and I are testing together, as much as I want to believe that the historic trauma inflicted on America (and all Americans) by slavery and racism can be confronted and undone, I run head-on into the reality–far too often–of how daunting this task is.
When Sharon is confronted with “Aren’t you glad we brought you over from Africa?” from the mouth of a white woman at a genealogy conference. I’m astounded and embarrassed by the insensitivity and ignorance of many white people. Yes, we’ve come a long way. Yes, conditions are far better in many ways than there were just a few decades ago. Yes, blah, blah, blah. And yes, we still have a long way to go.
Yet when Sharon says that her “final take away from the whole experience is that it is clearly a lot harder for white people to deal with the issues of slavery and the continuing racism it engendered than it is for black people” my first reaction is to say, “Wait a second. You know lots of white people who are dealing very thoughtfully and seriously with these issues.” My second reaction is to pause. Pause and listen to what Sharon experienced; to the daunting challenges that remain in confronting and undoing racism.
Saturday, May 21, 4:39pm, New York
It turned out to be a more interesting experience flying from Denver to New York than I ever imagined. You can read about our airplane evacuation here.
But I made it and now I sit in Sharon’s dining room typing away. We’re almost ready to head out. Originally we planned to leave this morning and drive 450 miles to Cleveland and then on to Louisville, Kentucky tomorrow. Instead, we’re getting up at the crack of dawn tomorrow and driving over 750 miles straight to Louisville. It’ll be a long day, but a good one for long conversations about our journey.
Today has been a day of final preparations, communicating with particular folks we’ll meet along the way, and trying to clean out Sharon’s refrigerator. Breakfast this morning consisted of salt fish and spinach with skillet corn bread. Tonight we’ll have broiled salmon, asparagus, and salad. For those of you who have partaken of Sharon’s cooking, all I can say is eat your heart out. A big advantage to partnering with Sharon to write a book is partaking of the fruits of this talented chef’s labor. Of course the disadvantage is maintaining my weight… ;o)
Sunday, May 22, 2011, 5:15am
Bags are packed. Gas tank is full. Sharon’s dog Nemo has his little bed all set up in the back seat. We’re off!
As I woke up this morning I thought that one of the wonders of our upcoming road trip will be the people we will encounter. I look forward to the wide variety of opinions and thoughts we will undoubtedly encounter and what we can learn about healing as a result.
God bless ’em, one and all, right? No matter where they are on their journeys, right?
They’ve all come to look for America.
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Harlem Book Fair
Phillis Wheatley Book Award
Post Racial Society
Summer Peacebuilding Institute
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