I’ve been a brat. Not writing. Just ignoring this blog as if it wasn’t my responsibility to keep up with it, thinking, that’s okay, I’ll get back on track…
I don’t have any excuses as to why I’m not writing either. Well, I did recently learn that I didn’t get into an intensive Memoir Writing Workshop I applied for, and that dampened my spirit, but rejection is par for the course, so that is no excuse to slack. Writing excuses would be like the same reasons we say we will start exercising …tomorrow, or promise not to be too tired at night to have sex with our partners…tomorrow (you didn’t expect that one, I know), or purge our clothes closet and bring what we don’t need to the Goodwill..tomorrow.
Of course one might say, with me being a white woman writing about race relations, it just goes to show that puts me in the place of privilege to just “take a break” from writing about race when I feel like it. I’m not living the day-to-day experiences of being black in this country, which remains in the thick of huge racialized problems with the continuation of killings of black men. Nor do I have to endure the micro-aggressions of racial comments and actions black people endure on a daily basis.
Yet, I assure you that while I may not be writing about all of the ills still occurring on a far too frequent basis, I now live my life constantly vigilant on the places where racism and racist acts are happening, and I continue to speak up, speak out, have difficult conversations on race, and educate myself so that I can be a part of the solution, a part of the breaking down of institutionalized racism, and racist talk and actions, instead of part of the problem.
The thing I have grappled with though is continuing on my way on this path of blogging, of staying the course, as I write about connections across color lines. When I began the blog three years ago, I knew I wanted to write from a personal, non-academic, non-political place on what happens when connections are made across color lines–positive interactions, negative ones, ones where I’ve been awkward and stuck my foot in my mouth and have made patronizing statements to people of color. I also saw the blog as part of my journey to discover why I’ve always been so attracted to black culture, and more importantly the very act of wanting to connect with black people throughout my life.
The purpose of the blog was not to solely write about racism, or to write solely from the viewpoint of an anti-racism activist. There are plenty of good blogs and sites that write on and feature current news on race and racism, including: www.theroot.com, www.colorlines.com, www.blackgirlinmaine.com, www.debbyirving.com, www.racestoryrewrite.com. I urge you to go read them.
Along the way between my learning more and more about racial constructs, the history of racism in this country, and with the never-ending bad news of senseless murders of black men that have gone unpunished, I have written more and more about these current tragic events, unable to not give voice to the horror that has so many feeling weighted down, and hopeless that things will ever get better. I am grateful for the activists out there protesting for change and the people who understand the bigger picture and systems and how to effect greater change in that way. As I’ve said before here, I’ve always understood better the one-to-one exchange–what I see before me, the conversations I hear around me–that is what I feel I can tap into.
The times I have been called out on the blog for coming from a place of white privilege used to make me feel guilty and question my integrity. I’ve since learned to get over myself, to own my words, to learn to listen to what people are saying and see if there were places where I should have phrased something differently, or simply open up a new way of looking at my thoughts through the eyes of a person of color on the receiving end of those words.
I try to always be hyper-vigilant about places where I observe micro-aggressions in the form of white people making patronizing statements to black people like “my best friend is black, so..” or when they invalidate a black person’s anger over yet another unarmed black man being killed by a police officer, by saying (and as I’ve said before, it’s amazing how I hear the same things said verbatim, over and over, so I can only imagine how black people feel), “well, what about black-on-black crime..” and “well, he was no angel..” and “well, if they didn’t wear their pants down around their ankles and talk like thugs…” I engage in conversations, and question the person or people who are expressing these thoughts, with hopes that they will learn to look at things differently, to have empathy for and validate a black person’s experience, and that that will chip away at the racialized thoughts and ignorance of how personal, systemic and institutional racism have left black people in a place of inequity, and in a place of danger.
So, I live this, even if I’m not writing about all of it, and there is so much more I could and should be doing. I don’t say this to get all self-righteous, but perhaps it’s a talking out loud, to help me re-find my way here. I want to write about the ways we connect across color-lines–our experiences where we connect face-to-face in our daily lives, the way we think about one another, and how we got to thinking that way, and how we see the now, and the future of race and race relations. And I want to write about the culture of black life in an honorable way, because it has always been something that I have been attracted to from a very young age, and something that continues to enrich my life today.
Thank you for listening. Please share your own thoughts of what it means for you to want to connect with people from different backgrounds and experiences, and with any suggestions for future writings on Wendy Jane’s Soul Shake.