So I’m sitting on the plane home from* Seattle, and I had a really interesting conversation on race with the woman next to me. We were talking, and she asked me, why is it so hard to have conversations like this. I thought that the answer we came to was interesting, and insofar as it has a lot to do with privacy, I thought I’d share.
We talked a bit about how conversations about race are often tricky in part because there are things that sensitive people worry about. We don’t want to offend the people we’re speaking with, especially if we have to work with them in the future.
On an airplane, however badly I might put my foot in my mouth, and we’ll have a really uncomfortable few hours, we’ll walk away, and probably never see each other again. So the anonymity of the conversation (properly, ano-sur-nymity, lack of a last name) made it possible to be more frank and open then if we were neighbors.
Alcoholics anonymous works on very similar ideas, and uses anonymity as a way to create a safe space.
*Yes, from. I wrote this a few years back and just noticed I hadn’t hit post.