Empathy in 6 words

Michele Norris of NPR has created an elegant, brilliant way to get the conversation on race kick-started again. It’s called The Race Card Project. It started out simply, when she was on a book tour for her new book about race, The Grace of Silence: A Memoir. She handed out 200 postcards and asked people to write their thoughts on race in six words. The response floored her. To date, two years later, she has gotten back over 12,000 postcards! Clearly, people are aching to be heard, and to be heard clearly. That’s the beauty of the six words. They succinctly sum up what a person most wants to say about race.

Here are some examples: “You know my race. NOT ME!” “Chinese or American? Does it matter.” One that has ignited a firestorm of response lately is “We aren’t all Strong Black Women.” This really hit a nerve for a lot of people, particularly black women, of course. Some of the responses were eye-opening for white people, since many would assume “Strong Black Woman” is a compliment. Not necessarily so. There is much more to it than that. Read the article, and the responses, and see for yourself.

Now that this has taken on a life of its own, Ms. Norris has created a website devoted to it, where people can post their six-word thoughts on race, and respond to others. What a brilliant way to open up the conversation on race–a conversation that is not nearly finished yet, despite what some may think. Check out the website here.

So what six words would I write? Maybe, “I take for granted white benefits.”

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