My professor texted me asking if she could share my Her Words poem as a bridge for our last class. I felt naked but I trusted her and said yes. My heart raced as I entered the classroom. There had been confusion I was told over my poem and email and it was decided that allowing the students of color to discuss how they felt with what had happened in response to my words would be helpful to open up the discussion to other students as they were invited to talk back around the topic of “white fragility” and the words I spoke in our group. It started with two students and then all the other students of color were invited into the fish bowl to share their perspectives and experiences with “white fragility” oppression, and racism. As their stories began to unfold my fears gave way as I listened to their truth, anger, hurt, disgust, mistrust, sadness, and desire to at times to buffer.
As they spoke all I could think of was how I had grown to care for these students and in hearing their stories of suffering and oppression made my heart ache, and to have been someone who added to their burden of pain with my empty/filled selfish, disconnected, privileged sense made me feel ashamed, responsible, and sore in my spirit. The image that I connected with during the time the students shared was a picture of each of them taking turns with a curved needle threaded with the stories of their lives, and as they spoke their needle pierced my side stitching the cloth of their experiences to me. Each person bringing their patchwork stories like quilters who work together on one quilt sharing and stitching a larger story… a precious sacred story. Although my sides were sore from the privilege of being bound to truth …the stitches had continued meaning for healing.