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“With white parents
came: white neighbors,
friends, classmates, relatives,
privileges, and experiences.
And with that came
witnesses – white witnesses
– white witnesses more
than willing to vouch
for me, go to bat for me,
stand in the gap for me.”

Google “conversation on race”
and you’ll get at least 200,000,000 hits. With numbers like this it’s a wonder we don’t already have the answers. Perhaps it’s because, like that Violent Femmes song, when it comes to conversing about race, nothing ends up on our permanent record. Or perhaps it’s like me freshman year, excited about a topic, yet not quite ready to come to class prepared for an informed and productive discussion. Whatever the reason, when it comes to meaningful, necessary and yes, uncomfortable conversations on race, we seem to miss far more opportunities than we catch.

On July 19, 2009, distinguished Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates was arrested for being rude in his kitchen. And while this event seemed to offer up a near perfect opportunity for such a conversation, in the end, it would best be known for producing America’s First Presidential Racial Beer Summit – a behind closed doors event which culminated with a single collective comment. They’d agreed to move on. And with that we did too.

Riding in Cars with Black People & Other Newly Dangerous Acts: A Memoir in Vanishing Whiteness was born out of the belief that moving on for the sake of avoiding difficult and/or uncomfortable conversations is rarely in the country’s best interest. From the unique perspective of someone who has lived on both sides of the divide, this work unabashedly explores the often complex and misunderstood world of race, privilege, and policing.

I am humbled and overjoyed that this work continues to resonate with such diverse audiences, particularly those who find themselves or their loved ones in the bodies and voices presented onstage. I hold fast to the possibility that Riding in Cars with Black People…continues to spark meaningful, necessary, and yes, uncomfortable conversations.

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