While I did strive to make him uncomfortable, it was not my intention to shame him. How would he rationalize my experience? Thankfully, a staff member making her rounds broke the silence. Along with her was my replacement. She thanked me and I handed over my vest and flag.
I looked at Aaron who stood silently. What more did he have to say? I wondered. My outspoken friends had remarked on my patience and ability to open the floor to ideas regardless of how they might offend me, but we all have our point of exhaustion. I could have sat around for the rest of day discussing race with Aaron, given the energy. But it was not my responsibility to usher him or anyone else through America’s complex racial discourse, nor should it be assumed that one conversation could account for it. These terribly uncomfortable conversations, so often viewed as unnecessarily divisive, actually offer an opportunity to heal.
“Thank you,” Aaron pulled me aside as I was leaving.
“For what,” I asked.
“Thank you for sharing. That was really personal and I know it probably wasn’t easy to share.”
“Ah yeah, of course. Thanks for listening.”
“I’d like to talk about this again sometime,” he said. “If you feel comfortable, y’know?”
“Sure,” I said. “Hit me up.”