So the other day, Chesya and I got in an argument (How many blogs need to begin “So me and Chesya got in an argument”?). As is common among writers, we spend a lot of time reading each other’s manuscripts before they’re sent them out (I’ve mentioned a couple of my own first readers). Well, this friend of ours had a novel whose premise we had issue with. A single guy inherits a house from someone, though he has no idea who. He enters the 100+ year old house and, after looking around, a door materializes in front of him. He then goes through it.

He goes through it.

Our issue was a matter of believability. Who would actually go through that door? It’s the same sort of question we have to ask ourselves as writers: what would characters believably do in a given situation. But let me tell you, I just ain’t that curious (I know what you’re asking, if we’re in agreement, how was there an argument? Well, that’s just me and Chesya). She began an informal survey of her friends and family. A disturbing pattern began to emerge.
Her white friends would go through the door and her black friends/family would not.

I found that hard to believe. So I decided to do my own part in researching this racial divide. To my shock and horror, I found similar results. My family, well, we’re selling the house and pocketing the money. I asked my white co-worker (“Of course you go through it”). I called some white friends of mine. To a person, they were going through the door. Flabbergasted (and it’s not often a brotha gets flabbergasted), I turned to my white people voices of reason. First, my message board moderator, Lauren David:

Lauren: I’m torn.
Me: I’m one of your best friends, right?
Lauren: Right.
Me: My sister is one of your dearest friends, right?
Lauren: Right.
Me: Has NONE of this rubbed off on you?
Lauren: I said I’m torn.

Second, I then ask my wife of seven plus years. Seven plus years of living with black folk. She comes back with “you at least have to open it.” (For the record, she spent the rest of the evening trying to justify it. “If you’re trying to sell the place, you don’t want the door just popping up.” “It’s okay, honey, cling to your whiteness. It’s your cultural imperative.”)

White people, are you kidding me?

The other day I was out with some volunteers from Outreach, Inc. looking to help some homeless teenagers. At one point, they start running. So I ran, passed them, then asked what they were running for. They said the hill we were walking down got muddy so they tried to get through it quickly. They asked why I ran. I said “black reflex”: folks start running, I run and ask questions later. You can believe we didn’t do a Wrong Turn 2 and decide to split up (much less the only black guy in the party deciding to go investigate any strange sounds all by himself).
I even got to wondering how soon would some horror movies end if it had an all black cast:

-What’s that dude in the hockey mask doing? Am I the only person simply not that curious? How many black folks do you see at a hockey game? Credits start rolling.

The Haunting of Hill House? I ain’t gonna lie: noisy houses, doors that don’t shut right, plumbing don’t work, and the super can’t be found? Someone tweaks and then freaks out? That’s just a day in the life. Credits start rolling.

-I just buried my cat in this hidden graveyard and it came back to life. For sale sign goes up and the credits start rolling.

White people are you kidding me?

How did you ever end up colonizing the world? Will someone explain this to me? I guess it pays to know your audience. Consider this the flip side to the writing the other dilemma.

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