A reconstructed conversation from the office this morning:
BA, a young black woman: I'm just saying that this country isn't ready for it. A black family in the White House?? Y'all thought I was joking but the first time Michelle or the girls are in a photo with a 'do rag, or with their hair in twists there's gonna be a whole lotta 'What?!?'
ES, a Boomer white man: Really? You don't think folks will be ok with them?
BA: I'm just saying that most people in this country have never thought about it and so they're going to experience mild freakage.
Ding: You have a point. It's going to be like bringing your first black friend home. Or you visiting your first black friend's house.
ES: But I think that people are generally ok with it. (he pauses) However, when I was dating an African American woman and brought her home I know that it was a strain for my mother.
BA: Exactly. How many people really live integrated lives? Like Ding said, it's like a big sleepover with your first black friend - for four years. For the whole country. And you know anything we do with our hair, our bodies - hell, anything - codes political.
JD, another young black woman: It codes angry.
Ding: Yeah, I don't really have a lot of faith in the American people to avoid falling back on the 'wow, black people are so different' discourse.
JD: In college, my white friends were generally very polite about it. It takes some time.
Ding: You're from Canada.
JD: We're not that polite.
Ding: On the other hand, remember when Cherie Blair was photographed answering the door in a nightgown, no makeup, just out of bed? She was totally totally hit. Britain didn't exactly crumble from the realization that the Prime Minister's wife looked like everyone else in the morning.
BA: But that's white privilege.
ES: But we've seen Oprah looking like a disaster. America didn't seem that startled.
BA: But that's class privilege.
ES: Well, there I agree with you. But don't you think the Obamas would also be considered privileged by class?
Ding: Not on the same level as Oprah.
ES: I don't know. I give people more credit.
BA, JD and Ding: Hm.
BA: I swear, if people are going to start asking to touch my hair again...
JD and Ding: Girl...