Thursday, November 20, 2014

Witnessing Whiteness

Jess and I joined a book study group earlier this year, the book in question: Witnessing Whiteness. Interesting enough on a personal level, but not enough to incite me to write anything meaningful into the public internets. Tonight changed that.

The group that I attend was recorded tonight by CBS news and promises to be broadcast nationally tomorrow night. The group conversation was fine/okay, but they wanted a few of us to stay for an interview afterwards, and they asked me to be one of those people.

Thinking of Jeff from MORE's encouragement to speak to the media at the last demonstration I went to, and kinda high off a presentation I gave last week that was received well, I agreed, even though strangely, with my media production history, I find myself fairly retiring these days. Wary of public speaking or setting down too many of my thoughts for fear of getting it wrong.

In the end, it's probably better to put your foot in your mouth than be forever hushing yourself, so I did that tonight (ate some foot), and my mind has been spinning since with the things that I wish I had said instead of what I did. Thus the need for a blog post. (which will likely lead to more foot eating later).

QUESTION: What brought you here tonight?

My answer: something rambling about my childhood and attempts to re-engage in the race dialogue since I came back to St. Louis. Yuck.

MY HINDSIGHT ANSWER(s):

  1. I feel that our country's (ie white power) inability to face race, have a truth and reconciliation process (reparations?) around past genocides and slavery has crippled me emotionally, and severely damaged pretty much everyone I grew up with. It's personal.
  2. I am desperate to find positive steps forward, because for us to pass these divisions and injustices intact to the next generation is unthinkable.
  3. Continuing racism has also contributed to making our national political debates on social issues utterly moronic. The natural coalitions that should be forming around so many issues I care about are hampered and hamstrung by racist undercurrents. It is so easy to manipulate people's fears, and the inability of white folks to speak with the bare minimum of coherence about race issues without getting completely freaked out makes clear communication about so many issues just impossible. Coded language, dishonesty, cognitive dissonance do not make for healthy debate or coherent advocacy.
Ok. I wish I had said something more along those lines. I reserve the right to return here and edit that some more, since I will probably be seething with better answers for the next couple of days.

Something else that came up during the interview was class intersectionality. Apparently I did a poor job of bringing it up, because I got push-back like I was saying "it's all class"(which I don't believe). I could use help learning how to talk about that. Growing up, once I had an ounce of political class consciousness, I felt like it was the missing puzzle piece of my young education in the race dialogue, and explained a lot within the process of social dissolution of cross-racial friendships. 

Three Years

Well. It has been nearly three years since my last blog post here. It looks like I petered out right after Maddox was born, which totally makes sense. Now Atticus is here too, and it surprises me, but here I am, feeling like I want to start writing a bit again.

Medium-length personal/public update format - isn't that quaint? Yeah. So, I almost feel like I should write something about the last three years, or the move back to St. Louis, but I don't really have time for that tonight. It is already too late, and I don't really know who I'd be writing that for.

When I've thought about blogging, I've been wanting to do reviews of kids' books. You could say I've formed some opinions on that subject. A quick run down (I will perhaps return to do more detail later):

Yay:

  • Any of the Frog and Toad series, 
  • Owl at Home, 
  • Hiawatha (susan jeffers illustrated), 
  • the Little Island, 
  • Everybody Needs a Rock, 
  • Jamberry, 
  •  Blueberries for Sal 
Boo:
  • The Sweet Pickles series, 
  • Zen shorts, 
  • Thomas, 
  • countless other daft and hollow scribblings.
Okay.

So, now that I've got that out of the way, the real reason I feel compelled to write something tonight is in the next blog post. Keep things organized, you know.