Gerzon is president of Mediators Foundation, which incubates projects in the the democracy reform community that promote bridge-building and collaboration. His most recent book is "The Reunited States of America: How We Can Bridge the Partisan Divide" (Berrett-Koehler, 2016)
At birth, my grandson Isaiah's cry pierced the air. Later, as I held him in my arms, I wept with joy. As I gently placed him on his mother's belly he started nursing; his father leaned over and cradled them both. It was an unforgettable sight: a light man's arm, holding a dark woman's arm, cradling a baby the color of ... beauty.
That's the moment it struck me: My grandson was not in the white club. This sweet innocent child, now a witty 12-year-old, would be called African-American — or "black." His actual skin color is Sicilian, or perhaps Armenian, both now legally considered "white." But because his mother's side is West African (with a trace of Cherokee), he won't be allowed in the club. He will have to check a different box — and so the lie continues.
If the democracy reform movement is to make a paradigm shift on race, we have work to do — not just on our society, but for those among us who are "white." Too many of us still have a racial mindset that is obsolete and, despite our best intentions, part of the problem.