Tuesday, March 18, 2008

on apologies long overdue

when i was in college, i had a roller coaster ride of a time. politically, emotionally, socially. i started off as a good little mixed girl from japan, just trying to write music and learn biology. i ended up as a necktie-wearing, semi-militant, protest march attending, rip-roarin' radical queer of color.

at oberlin, this narrative arc isn't as rare as one would expect. in fact, it's really a rite of passage for all those who attend with some idea of moral and social justice. but man, what a ride.

so, during my third year of college, after my *race epiphany,* i became uber confrontational and sometimes mean. i made white women cry and wore it as a badge. i lost friends who i deemed to be "fucked up." and i made new enemies with people who were equally as outspoken as i was, but "wrong."

with one "enemy," i don't remember the circumstances too well. i think i've blocked it out of my memory. but i know it involved me confronting a white friend of mine about violating "safe space" for people of color; a huge campus-wide skirmish over the whole thing; and said "enemy" (being a close friend of my white friend who then became a non-friend) yelling "cunt" at me in the hallway of the conservatory. i think that made me cry.

i've hated him ever since.

but this morning, i received an apology from him in my inbox. i was shocked. floored, really. it seemed that he was starting to understand things that i never thought it was possible for him to understand. and he told me as much. i was so shocked, i thought someone sent me the message as a joke, posing as him. really, it was that shocking.

and i was moved. i don't see myself as becoming buddies with him or anything, but his change was moving. it also showed me that i've changed as well. i'm not as hard as i once was. and i like to think i'm not as stubborn. and i now know (all too well) that i am not always right.

this hasn't been the first email i have received from a college friend or acquaintance trying to reconcile about a burnt bridge. but this is the first one i've responded to with forgiveness, or mutual reconciliation.

maybe i'm more open now. or maybe i have a certain hunch that this message is part of the "making amends" step in a recovery program--and i've become so much more empathetic to recovering addicts. i've only recently written out a whole list of "amends" i want to make with people myself.

i wish i knew. but it's got me pondering a lot of things. here, after only four hours of sleep, under a dark, cloudy sky not unlike the one i lived under for seven years at oberlin.


la rebelde said...

wow. i feel you on this one. that's pretty powerful that he wrote you. i think we're all learning how to be grownups.

Dylan said...

i think one of the biggest steps in racial identity formation, for white people, is this step of reflection and apology. it is a sort of humbleness that their privilege usually spares (deprives) them from experiencing. i think it takes a lot of courage to do, but even more courage to forgive. great entry!