Krystal Birdsong’s Writings 17

Birdsong’s daughter Krystal was a good writer.  She wrote for both her high school and college newspaper.  In going through her personal effects after her passing we found found her journals in which we found drafts of some her articles.  This one was written for the Barry U newspaper and was about a forum speaker and her book.

Lena Williams & the Racial Divide

If you missed Lena Williams’ lecture entitled “It’s the Little Things: Everyday Interactions That Anger, Annoy, and Divide the Races,” named after her new book, you missed a fun, energetic, and socially conscious forum with a timely and inspiring message.  Luckily, BU’s Buccaneer is here to fill you in.

The forum, which was a lecture accompanied by a role-playing panel of students, was put  on by Barry’s Office of Multi-Cultural Affairs, and  took place in the Lando room on January 25.

Williams, a black woman who grew up in racially divided Washington, D.C. during the 1950’s found herself fearing whites at an early age because of negative experiences with prejudice and being subjected to “separate but equal”  Jim Crow laws.  All the while, she secretly had crushes on white men of her day such as Paul Newman, Mel Brooks, and Elvis.  She even mentioned that she had secretly wanted to be white because whites had sock hops, went to any parks they wanted, their fathers wore suits, were astronauts, and she didn’t see why she couldn’t have those things too.

Later on in the late 60’s, her fears and fantasies of white men turned to contempt and hatred when she heard about a church file in the South, set by the Ku Klux Klan, which killed four innocent little black girls.  this set Williams on a path where she, as she put it, “denigrated [whites], called them names and made assumptions.”  She was now a perpetrator of the racial slights that she had once been a victim of.

Fast forward in time to when Williams was a journalist for the New York Times.  She mostly covered women’s sports, politics, fashion, and food, until one day one of editors asked her to write a story about contemporary race relations.  “What are your nieces and nephews talking about?” her editor asked.

Williams ended up writing a story about how white kids wanted to be black and black kids wanted to be white.  It was controversial yet informative and the public loved it…. She is now retired but travels the country lecturing about race relations..

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