NB MARCH 2013: The following post has been amended to limit the identification of individuals, in an exchange that was intended to examine principles rather than personalities.
The Executive Director of a regional association of independent schools provided the following response by email to yesterday’s post (“Those Boots Weren’t Made for Talking”) — in which I referred to comments she made in a #PoCC12 general session. She asked me to post them so that others attendes can see them, and ‘hear’ them, as well.
I tried to post the comment below to your blog post and was unsuccessful. Concerned that you may have settings that may not allow comments, I am sending it directly to you and would appreciate your helping me to do whatever I can to make amends for the miscommunication I made at the opening ceremonies by posting this comment or directing me how to do so properly.
Yesterday morning, when I went to the podium as the last person to welcome the attendees of this year’s PoCC to Houston, I did so with a heart full of gratitude and expectation for this important gathering of sharing and learning. My every intention was to convey honor and respect to everyone. I am so very regretful and apologetic that I offended, angered, and/or hurt anyone present.
My impromptu, unscripted connection of my colorful boots to Pat’s having worn his most colorful shirt in celebration of PoCC, ended by saying “we both wanted to be people of color today” meant to say in a lighthearted way that we were trying to be “with you” today. That was not how it came across and I so wish that I could change that. I hope that my sincerest apology will be accepted and my failure to communicate well forgiven.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings, Chris. I will learn from this.
End of blog comment
On a personal note, a serious family health matter has not allowed me to stay for the remainder of the Conference. I am full of regret about this, too, as I would have been seeking you and others out to apologize and to have a conversation in person. Like you, I get up every morning of the week to do the good work of education. I revere the goals and aims of PoCC and my friends and colleagues of color. I don’t pretend to know your journey. But I am respectful and always open to knowing more. Otherwise, I would not have been in Houston. I hope to meet you sometime and that we can get to know each other beyond the perceptions of our words of the past day.
This prompt and direct apology to PoCC attendees, which I appreciate at a number of levels, suggests the addition of two invitations in the spirit of the “Code of Conduct for White Folks” that has been developing iteratively over this series of posts.
8. When You Blow It, Own It
Determine whether you ‘blew it’ not on the basis of the intentions of your actions or your words, but on their impact. Other folks get to decide their impact, and you get decide how to respond.
9. Exercise Your Interruption Skills with White People
When you witness another white person struggling on this path, I invite you to consider it is your obligation to call attention to it. Do not defer your response to a person of color, unless you are asked to do so. If you’re not sure whether you should speak up or not, ask. If a person of color asks you to speak up, do it.
You, Dear Reader, can make your own decision whether my communication, or hers, were effective examples or not.
Until next time,
You can follow Chris Thinnes on Twitter at @ChrisThinnes