"All White People are Racist." It's actually something I agree with. I am working on my racism every day, and am attempting to explain to other white people what this means--that it's not that I popped out of the womb with animus toward Black people, but that I was born into and inculcated into a racist system, which has worked its way into my subconscious in ways I often don't recognize.
At the same time, I can feel the resistance in my body when confronted with those words. The defensiveness. It's true that you don't know me. It's true that…
My watch phrase has become "Disrupt the echo chamber." And the only way we can do that is by speaking kindly and respectfully to those with whom we disagree--and explaining precisely why we disagree. I spend what many friends see as way too much time doing this, but it is important to me. It's so good to see I am not alone.
I have not yet seen the new Netflix series, Bridgerton, but when you brought it up, I was intrigued. You didn’t like it — partly because of its hyper-sexual nature, which would probably make me squirm too. You also found jarring the presence of Black gentry, which to you seemed anachronistic. Washington Post television critic Hank Stuever referred to the show as “a completely sensible and revisionary romp,” and while my understanding is that it didn’t set out to be strictly historical, it’s possible that it’s not as revisionary as we might assume.
That is to say, we white people…
My autistic adult son is my truth-teller. And today’s truth makes me wonder, in my solar plexus, whether I am a monster.
I am explaining to him the origins of Halloween, a holiday he hates because of its preoccupation with horror. “Traditionally,” I say, in my best teacher-voice, “‘All Hallows’ was a time to remember people we loved, who had died. Like I might remember Granddaddy.”
My son looks up, surprised. “Really?”
“Well, of course.”
He knits his brows. “You just didn’t seem very sad when he died. I mean, I guess you were sad. But not like if Nana…
I’m in the final push for my novel draft, and Monday I lost my glasses.
I cannot read without my glasses — not books, not screens, not anything.
“Great,” I said. “Now I’ll be writing blind.”
And I realized that —
…I actually knew a great deal.
It was time to drop back into the book. Without…
Remember when you were a kid writer, and you’d write about four friends who solve the mystery of the porcupines on the moon? Or when you were a teenage writer and you wrote about a maniacal doctor with a secret lab, who turned people into sad, electric ghosts?
And now you’re sitting in front of your novel that will go on forever, trying to write believably and authentically and make sure you have the right kind of lightbulbs for 1912, and the right number of scenes before the midpoint reversal. And you are. Unbelievably. Bored.
When your story begins to…
Imagine a man. He wears a shirt with a confederate flag. He is not wearing a mask, because he woke up in a free country. He is walking home from a counter-protest against Black Lives Matter agitators who have come to his town. He has no visible weapons, but he may possibly have spray-painted on a fence the words, Antifa not welcome here!
Suddenly an unmarked minivan pulls up. Five armed men in camo get out. The man in the confederate flag shirt puts his hands up and tries to back away, but they surround him. He yells, “What’s going…
Outside the echo chambers of our current life, we often have the misfortune to run across an opponent — one of those people-of-the-erroneous-ideas, who despite our best efforts to avoid them has managed to invade our space. It may be a friend of a friend. It may be a stranger. It may even be a family member.
One of two approaches is usually employed toward the invader at this point.
1. “Well, we all have opinions…”
2. “If you believe that, get out of my space forever.”
Either of these can serve to make our lives less complicated. We either…
I wish I could say this was decades ago, but it wasn’t. It was maybe eight years ago. And I wasn’t being a Karen or a Becky — it wasn’t like that. But it was a moment when my secret “othering,” my anxiety about Blackness got noticed and called.
Actually, I had already written a children’s book on the Civil Rights Movement by this time. I had begun to educate myself. I was hyper-aware of racism and my role in it. And still there was this brief moment — this micro-aggression of which I was the awkward perpetrator.
This isn’t the first time.
A few months back I used my tip money from a Scuppermonkeys gig to buy shoes for a man outside the Starbucks, whose own were covered with wet socks. He had a speech defect that made him nearly incomprehensible, but he pressed his whiskered lips to my cheek and did a giddy dance as we entered the shoe store.
Once I invited a woman I’d met at a poetry reading, who was experiencing homelessness, to stay in our apartment for three weeks. She had another place lined up. That place fell through. Getting services was…