The first time I was confronted with my identity as a “Brown Woman” was my first trip to North Pacific Yearly Meeting (NPYM). I had never experienced such a direct external approach to my skin color before. My family celebrated my adoption day as a family holiday.
When I was in high school, some friends and I snuck into a neighborhood swimming pool that was closed after dark. We tried to keep quiet, but we were having too much fun, and a neighbor called the cops. An officer showed up and calmly asked us to please leave, which we did. Those friends and I are white.
Part of my dad’s job with the American Friends Service Committee was to take speakers around to various college campuses, churches, and summer institutes. As a kid, I sometimes went along and got to meet such spiritual giants as peace activist A.J. Muste and civil rights leaders Bayard Rustin and Ralph Abernathy.
Now that bitterness and hard-heartedness were no longer a very real threat, I no longer needed to be bicycling, particularly in the heat and humidity of late June in North Carolina. I still needed to get on to Savanna, George, but I had no need of a bicycle any more. Nor did I need all the bicycle stuff: tools, helmet, panniers, etc. I thought I’d just leave it all on the steps of a church.