I have so much to say about Ta-Nehisi Coates masterpiece, The Water Dancer. I listened to this book while walking in my neighborhood, about the only solitude I get these days while parenting two young kids, and at least twice I had to pause the book, sit on the curb, and just stare until I could get my thoughts together.
But here’s the thing, and as a talker, this is hard for me to say: this book is not for me to talk about.
It is for me to hear. To listen. To absorb. To extract meaning. To audit my thinking and beliefs. To take action, internally and externally.
I’ve been using the acronym WAIT (Why Am I Talking?) to remind myself to just shut up and listen.
Hiram Walker’s voice will not leave my ear. I have had dreams about Moses, Lockless, Sophia. To hear the names of the places I’ve lived and traveled through—Lancaster, Norfolk, Philadelphia, even Bird-in-Hand—in the context of slavery and outside the deep South was deeply moving.
This is history, but it is also our present. There is much to learn here about what we want for our future.
But this book is not for me to talk about. My job is to WAIT, to listen, to learn, to advocate, without centering my own White anguish.
The Water Dancer is a great start. Next for me is listening to the real people in my life whose lived experiences are likely as moving as this fictional story, albeit rooted in fact.
America can do better, but it means each one of us needs to do better. That starts with listening. I’m listening.