Recently I had an interesting conversation with a white, male friend who had just finished reading my young adult novel, The R Word, which tells the story of a very sheltered, white teenager named Rachel. Rachel lives in a mostly segregated suburb and, like lots of us white folk, has never seriously thought about race or considered the impact of racism. She, again like lots of us white folk, believes that we live in a "post racial" society and that it is best to be colorblind. Through a series of fortunate events, Rachel joins an after-school club that meets in the nearby city and, for the first time, makes friends with teens of color. She begins to see the world through their perspective, and comes to realize her own white privilege and her family's aversive racism.
Ok, back to my friend. He liked the novel, and complimented me on its writing style. Then he said, "There's one thing I'm wondering about. What were you trying to accomplish in writing this book?"
I have to admit I was surprised, because I thought the book's forward and discussion questions made that pretty clear. I responded, "Isn't it obvious?"
"Not to me," he said, his expression open and smiling, "because I've never really thought about any of this before."
That's the point.