I've been listening to a lot of podcasts the last few days. For the next few months I am working on a project that involves a great deal of repetitive actions and little brain function.
It's good because the work is around people and I, being a social animal, like being around others. Even if it's spent with earbuds sprouting out the sides of my head.
The podcasts I've listened to are from varied genres but the last couple of days there's been a lot about one particular conversation. The conversation being race. More specifically #blacklivesmatter.
I heard a podcast today from RadioLab titled, "Debatable."
It was about a young black man in Kansas City on a debate team who rewrote the way debate is done in school competitions.
It was VERY difficult to listen to. It was tough to differentiate between his legitimate points and what I always understood the rules of debate to be. I participated in a few debates in high school. I was terrible at it. Not because I couldn't successfully argue the points of view as much as I was lazy and the idea of doing all that research in a library full of scripts, plays and fictional works seemed to be a ridiculous waste of my time.
I struggled too because I couldn't relate with this young man personally AT ALL. I could listen, which is so important but I couldn't separate things. And then to realize the only debater I knew in high school who was a person of color was Lisa. (She still is a person of color by the way but I get mixed up grammatically with the tenses.)
Perhaps a little more listening in English class would have helped. Stay in school kids.
Lisa was a strong fearless student who walked tall with confidence through the hallways of tournament hosting schools. She competed with poise and articulation against the best of opponents. I marveled at her work ethic. I wished I had that. I saw more value in searching for that line or physical action that would make people laugh.
It's absolutely accurate to say that when I was in high school I had zero understanding what it meant to be a minority in a school, much less a minority at every single tournament where we competed.
I am in NO WAY making a comparison with Lisa and this young man. I'm simply letting you inside the swirl of thoughts and confusion as I listened to that podcast.
Lisa has "liked" most every post I've done these past few months and it has been a true encouragement to me. Someone from high school whom I saw as a heavy hitter, a student with a desire to succeed that I looked up to likes my blog.
I've had some thoughts running around about what to say and how to say it about a woman I haven't had a real conversation with in twenty years. That's how this blog works for me sometimes the person getting the love has been simmering on low in the soup pot of my mind until I smell the aromas and know it's ready. But today I needed to bring her into the mix of my podcast deconstruction and share love because she is one I thrust. She is one who will cheer me on but also, in a gentle and kind way, correct me and help me in my striving for better understanding.
I've learned quite a bit over the last few years as conversations become more open and demonstrations find stronger voices. And with each day as I stop and listen to others I learn a little bit more. The key word here is LISTEN.
Finally let me say the reason I am giving #thisiscrazylove2016 to Lisa isn't about her ethnicity. It also isn't about the fact that she was a debater. I celebrate these facts but those ramblings are mostly me openly pouring out my thought process from the day and particularly the podcast.
The reason for the love is for the grace and mercy she bestowed upon me. I remember me in high school. I give her the love because twenty some years later I can look back to the teenage version of her and learn from her wisdom and compassion. I love you Lisa. It's great keeping up with your family's goings on! And thanks for keeping up with this little experiment.