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The Race Project invites Miami Valley residents to talk about their life experiences through the prism of skin color. The conversations are honest, frank yet civil.

The Race Project: Cate Brinnon and Gyamfi Gyamerah

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James Fields IV
/
WYSO

In this conversation from The Race Project, Cate Brinnon and Gyamfi Gyamerah talk about parenting, privilege and science.

Cate Brinnon: My name is Cate Brinnon. I am a white cis female. I'm a mother of two. I am a teacher, having taught at university level now teaching yoga. I'm a business owner.

Gyamfi Gyamerah: My name is Gyamfi Gyamerah, and I'm an African-American first generation. My father was from Ghana and my mother is from Columbus, Ohio. [I'm the]father of three grown adult young men.

Cate Brinnon: Nice to meet you, Gyamfi

Gyamfi Gyamerah: Nice to meet you, Kate.

Cate Brinnon: I wanted to ask, how is it to raise three young men in today's world?

Gyamfi Gyamerah: My experience, I have to say, was a pleasure to raise my sons.

Cate Brinnon: So being a parent is one of your proudest accomplishments. Would that be fair to say?

Gyamfi Gyamerah: Yes, I would have to say without a doubt it's on the top. Cate, what was the most negative experience you have had with skin color as a white woman?

Cate Brinnon: As a white woman, I'm not sure I've had a negative experience with my skin color. One experience I had of being a white woman in North Carolina, it was when a woman of color was carrying her baby and it was a beautiful baby. And I commented on how gorgeous the baby was. And the response was, "Yes, ma'am, would you like to hold him?" That just seemed odd to me for someone to offer to have me hold the child and also to be called ma'am when we were equal ages. So it was very confusing for me because that is not something I would have done with my child. And I wasn't sure if that was because I was white or because I was in the south or that's just the nature of that person. It was hard for me to discern it.

Gyamfi Gyamerah: That would have weirded me out a bit, I'd have to say.

Cate Brinnon: Gyamfi, have you or your skin color ever given you an advantage in your daily lifestyle?

Gyamfi Gyamerah: Yes, unfortunately, when it comes to music or athletics... he's Black. He must be musically inclined or he must be athletic, which I think I am both. But as I tell my sons, much more than that, much more than that.

Cate Brinnon: Gyamfi, fit to the best of your knowledge, is there a scientific difference between human racial inferiority or superiority?

Gyamfi Gyamerah: That's a great question Cate. According to the Human Genome Institute of Research, there is 99.9 percent the same DNA shared between humans. Now that we know that, that can solve a lot of problems that this word race has brought up - all the pain and the murderous actions and destruction of humanity behind his word race, if we identify it for what it is, skin color superiority myth, we can transcend what happens because of that. Cate, how do you feel about the concept of white privilege?

Cate Brinnon: So I'm beginning to understand that just by virtue of the fact that my skin color is of lighter pigment, I have privilege. I don't have to worry about being pulled over. I don't have to worry for my life, you know, and that that hurts my heart when I see my young friends of color who have talked to me about having the talk. And my daughter's been pulled over, she's never had to worry about how to act other than crying and not wanting to get the speeding ticket. So that's a privilege that hits me hard. I raise my kids to understand that people act out of love or fear. When someone's coming at you with something very negative, it's probably a fear based response. And you can't place your expectations on other people, but at least have the conversation. I think our young people are so important to this.

Gyamfi Gyamerah: I'm always on the hope side. I'm on the humanity side. To me, humanity equivocates hope

Cate Brinnon: Gyamfi, I appreciate having the opportunity to explore some of these things with you, and I hope that we can continue to do that.

Gyamfi Gyamerah: Thank you for this conversation.

The Race Project is produced at the Eichelberger Center for Community Voices at WYSO.