When Bryan Stevenson, Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, speaks he notes how important “proximity” is, if we really want to understand racism and to dismantle it. He is talking about being physically close to people and their situations. As I think about my anti-racism work I realize that this is a challenge for people like me, who live, work and worship in majority white areas and have fostered primarily white relationships. I am trying to achieve better proximity, as well as study the issues of which I need to become aware.
One action I have taken recently is to ride the city bus a few times, where the majority of riders are people of color. I have been struck by how much planning and time it takes to get to and from my destination, given bus stop locations and wait times. This has deepened my understanding of the difficulties those without cars have in going to doctor appointments, parent/teacher meetings and grocery stores; and finding time to attend rallies and events, take care of personal business and vote, among other things. I am so privileged to be able to jump in my car and go whenever and wherever I want! It is clearer to me now how public transportation needs to improve, to help those with no access to a car, and also encourage less use of cars for the rest of us (better for proximity and interracial understanding, as well as for the environment). – KHS