Tag Archive: racism

Nonviolence, privilege and grief. Thoughts on South Carolina and a child I love.

Art by Demar Douglas, found on pinterest

Art by Demar Douglas, found on pinterest

This morning I sat down to write a letter to a beloved recent teen in my life, a newly minted thirteen-year-old. We go to protests a lot, and museums where we learn about farm workers and the Black Panthers and the American Indian Movement.

This beloved recent teen has been to hell and back, and the amount of resilience that is demanded of her is, to my mind, stupid. By which I really mean unjust. By which I mean I wish I could protect her and it makes me furious that I can’t. And by furious, I mean helpless.

I debated whether to mention the shooting in South Carolina. I debated it because she may not be watching the news these days and I don’t know that it is helpful for her to know about more suffering in the world. Mostly because I don’t want her to have more to be sad about or to be scared of or to hate the world for.

I’ve been reminded recently that it is hard to talk about any issue in a way that speaks to everyone’s lived experience, and when talking about anything related to race, it is that much harder, because we do have the same amount of skin in the game, but the way the game goes does not affect us the same way. (That is, even White people who HATE racism benefit from it, and Black people don’t, and the rest of us have a very complex terrain to navigate.) A great illustration of how privilege and oppression shape our responses to racial issues is that popular Facebook meme about police brutality and Black Lives Matter that reads “Black people are saying ‘STOP KILLING US!’ and White people’s response is ‘But…'”
More recently, though, (more…)

Code switching, hipster racism and inter-POC cultural misappropriation. (or, Aren’t you glad I didn’t get braids with extensions when I was 19?)

When I was 19 or so, I thought about getting braids. Braids with extensions. Braids with beads on the ends. “African Braids.”

“You’d look like a poser,” my mother said, and that was the end of that. (Admittedly, if that HADN’T been the end of that, further research into the cost of getting braids put in would have settled the issue almost as quickly—braiding, if you didn’t know, is a serious investment. Another place my Scottish and Indian heritage shines through—I am SUPER cheap. “Frugal,” my mother would quickly correct me.)

My mother was giving me a valuable lesson about cultural misappropriation fairly early in life: don’t take other people’s culture and use it without respect to its history and value and distinctness. Don’t use their culture like a costume. (more…)