I step into an Ordination Training
Racial Awareness Weekend
with my son, in his brown envelope,
tucked under my arm.

We participants are all white.
And I fear them.

Our work-shop-leaders are not the same colour
as we,
perhaps.
I wouldn’t say they were black.
Truly, I cannot see what they are, until they tell me.

The day wears on, frighteningly black-and-white.
Everyone seems,
firmly and precisely,
to know what their colour is,
whilst I do not.

On the morning of the second day
It is time for Question Time.
I take my son from his envelope and prop him on
the ledge which edges the room.

His little neat teeth smile out
from his conker-brown face.
He is outside our front door holding a tiny silver football cup.
His hair is knotted into daft little china-bumps.
He has stuck pale sticking-plasters over cuts on
his muddy football knees.
I stand beside him.

“This is my son” I say, “My own son”.
Then, to make sure no one may avoid me,
“my biological son”.
Now:
“Is he black?”
“Yes” says a woman, confidently, instantly.

There is one gasp
and much fidgeting.

Chairs are repositioned.
Positions are reviewed.
Responses are positioned.

But if I – his funny old mother – am all white,
can he be all black?
And since he, my achingly beloved son,
is black, what, now is my position?
Do you think I can still be all white?

I take my son down from the ledge.
He goes back into his brown envelope.
I join him.

©Lucy Berry 2013