I don’t belong here.
I’m trespassing in someone else’s neighborhood
as I turn off the main road
and onto the quiet, tree-lined streets where people live.
This is where I’ll take my walk today
and no one will know the difference.
The woman working in her garden,
the man with the four dogs (two large and two small)
the couple on their power walk,
all smile and wave
a friendly good morning
as though I am a part of the fabric of their world,
as though it would be perfectly natural
if I turned up the next driveway,
walked up to the pale blue house with the red door,
put my key in the lock and stepped inside.
But this is not my home.
I’ve never walked this path before.
When I wrote this poem in 2014, I wasn’t thinking about privilege. Having arrived early for an appointment in an unfamiliar part of town, I decided to take a stroll and enjoy a beautiful afternoon rather than wait in my car. Something about the ease with which I blended into this neighborhood compelled me to write a poem about the moment.
Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to engage in work and conversations that have peeled back layers of my understanding of race and privilege. I’ve been able to examine the narratives of history I remember learning in school and to reveal the places where I’ve been blind to racism and the ways policies, laws, and systems have created inequities and disparities.
I’m still learning.
It has been deeply unsettling to face my privilege and to deconstruct my conditioning. As I’ve worked through the discomfort, I’ve found opportunities to heal my own wounds, grow out of my cocoon, and engage with the world in more open and inspired ways.
In my most optimistic moments, I imagine this monumental time as a catalyst for us to open our hearts to a future that’s beyond the possibility of what exists now. At my most hopeful, I hear the murmur of a magnificent world composed of justice, compassion, and love.
Listen with your heart. Can you feel what’s wanting to become?