I grew up in Delaware, yes, THAT Delaware. I’ve lived in other places, like New York City, Pennsylvania and for the last year, London, but Delaware is home. I’m coming back to America because I feel like my place to contribute is there. And while I have enjoyed my time in London and have grown from the experience, I recently had the chance to see the James Baldwin documentary “I Am Not Your Negro”. The documentary moved me in many ways, most notably, physically. After seeing the movie, I no longer had any desire to hang out in Europe, avoiding America. If Baldwin, an outspoken Black homosexual had the courage to come back to his home country, then what excuse did I have to stay away? I told my friend Aeric I was coming home and his words to me were “well that’s what James Baldwin did”. It was at that very moment that I knew I wasn’t crazy for thinking it in the first place.
I’ve had the privilege of growing up knowing that I had privilege, and the opportunity to interact with brown and black people on the regular, learn in the doing and observing, community and love. I’ve had the opportunity to experience what so many people of color live daily, the experience of being the only person of your ethnicity in the room, at the wedding, the funeral, etc. This is something I wholeheartedly believe every person of privilege and power should experience...being the “other”. I can no longer say the majority, as white people in America have become the minority. While we are a minority, we are minority that is holding on to a majority of the wealth and fighting HARD to keep it.
Often I wonder, what’s next for someone like me? Is it enough to remain comfortable, in my unique world, surrounded by people of color in friendship, faith and chosen family? I don’t think it is. For me that is an already well-worn path. So for me there must be a next action step, or learning, or uncomfortable edge for to meet to continue my learning. 400 years of history means no white person in America gets a free pass, me included. That’s just the way it is. We built a country on oppression, opposition and exploitation. It was selfish, unkind and has ultimately handicapped our country’s present and future. Choosing not to be racist, prejudiced or biased is a daily choice. A choice you have to recommit to daily and sometimes moment-to-moment. I say this a lot; “As a white person, you can marry a black person and have bi-racial children and still be racist.” That’s the damn truth and one that way too many of us fail to honestly face in our daily lives.
As I look across the pond to my home state of Delaware and home country, America, in preparation for my return, I am bolstered. Not because of returning to the creature comforts, family and friends I’ve gone without for over a year, but because, much like I imagine James thought upon his return, coming home will be a lot of work, but there is nowhere else I’d rather do it.
Amy Loder is a passionate and creative thinker and doer. She is a native of Wilmington, Delaware, growing up in family that valued and worked for racial equality and justice, loved the arts, and instilled in her a deep love for humanity. Ms. Loder works as a personal stylist (http://amyloder.com), has extensive experience in the fields of business development and production. She has lived in NYC, Pennsylvania and Washington, DC.