This time last year, I decided to change how I read. Or, more accurately, to change what I read. It was one small way to keep breathing expansiveness and hope at a time when despair threatened to suffocate both.
As is true for any bibliophile, reading fills up swaths of the time I’m not working or sleeping. Certainly other activities populate the days — eating, dancing, hanging with the kiddo, chilling with the girlfriends. Church and family. In fact, I trip and tumble over the heaps of stuff comprising our days. It’s a wonder stories make it in here at all.
Nevertheless, as is also true for any bibliophile, I find a way. The rare hushed hours, those still stretches, most deliciously belong to books. Bedtime, summertime, solitary dinners. And not always solitary. Sometimes my boy and I read side-by-side at the table weaving tendrils of languid conversation into the quiet. Even at eleven years old, Bug still wants me reading aloud every night at bedtime. We travel through the fantasy worlds we’ve entered together. Having only just acquired a TV after nearly five years without, the universes of film and television hold little appeal. Our secret indulgences almost always involve the page. Continue reading “Reading Beyond”
- Ethel Leontine Gabain, 1883-1950
I’m parked in the lobby assembling bookcases. Even though we have a facilities staff and work study employees, somehow this falls to me. My students’ dissertations will live on these shelves, so okay. I’m assembling bookcases.
Earlier this morning, I moved another set of bookcases along with their assorted contents. My lovely gay co-worker joined me in hauling this stuff across the suite into the file room because. . . Does there need to be a because? It needs to get done. Tracking down the people whose jobs involve moving furniture – to say nothing of the negotiation this would entail – demands a far greater expenditure of effort than simply doing it ourselves.
Parked in the lobby assembling bookcases means an hour at least erased from the projects my mind and hands could be serving. The article that needs to be written on the relationship between race and the completion rates of doctoral students? Not getting done. The accompanying literature review and data collection to write the article? Ditto. Following up with PhD student leaders on their 9/11 day of service plans? Updating materials that more broadly distribute the cultural capital needed for navigating a PhD? Developing a panel on graduate funding opportunities?
None of it getting done. Because I’m parked in the lobby assembling bookcases.
So when you, Good-Hearted White Dude, wander by, I’m less disposed to chat.
Continue reading “To The Good-Hearted White Dudes Who Want To Fraternize”
Delete her number from your phone, hide/unsubscribe/unfriend her social media feeds, lick your wounds, grieve for what might have been, and throw yourself wholeheartedly into other connections and interests. Read books by women. Let time do its healing work (It will, I promise). Be a person who takes “no” for an answer.
– Captain Awkward
I finally understood that his no meant no. Really, truly no. It took me nearly six months. I’m not the quickest learner, but I found my way there.
I didn’t like it one little bit. Couldn’t there be a different answer? A way to keep the door open? We’d been standing there at the threshold for so long — open, shut, open, shut. . . Open? Shut? — that I couldn’t quite believe he’d lodged the bolt for good.
What would change his mind? What might convince him to try again?
My disregard for his choice is glaring. I only see it now. My longing for him drowned out every other consideration. It didn’t help that memory laced geography. Every block, a block we walked. The path through the woods behind the library. The restaurant, the park, the gym. Memory turned to curiosity; curiosity to yearning. I was lugging around a Sears catalogue of questions never asked, not in the entirety of our four years. The questions dazzled. The desire to know him again, or perhaps know him anew, consumed me.
I wanted him.
I’d turned into every lovelorn sucker in every country song.
Continue reading “When Letting Go Is A Political Act”
We believe that hundreds of UU churches signaling to their own members and to the larger community that “our faith takes racism seriously, especially within our own walls” will push our faith toward the beloved community we all seek.
– Black Lives of UU
On Sunday, my Unitarian Universalist congregation participated in the first #UUWhiteSupremacyTeachIn. This began as a call to action by Black Lives of UU for congregations around the country the dedicate one day of services to teaching about racism and white supremacy. Our worship team took the charge seriously, shifting not only the content of the service but the very structure of how we gather together. A new seating arrangement brought everyone face-to-face. Without the familiar printed order of service to guide us, we watched videos of anti-racist leaders like Tricia Rose, and worshiped in the company of art and music by people of color. Most notably, our pastors made unflinching use of the term “white supremacy.”
Continue reading “Beyond Belief: #UUWhiteSupremacyTeachIn”
If I hold a room the way the sparkling statue lady does tonight, book-touring her paleo-pedicure-CrossFit happy meal of neoliberal feminism, how will I use my voice?
I too could propitiate the gods of privilege. I might tug loose one rough thread of the story and call it struggle. Might forget to notice who inhabits the room. And the design of it. How thick the walls. Who cannot breach them.
Will I preen?
Or will I speak truth to power?
Continue reading “Question in Action”
Racism is the single most critical barrier to building effective coalitions for social change.
– The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond
Last night at an event focused on building support for immigrant communities, every single participant was a white person.
At a meet-and-greet at a local bar for Virginia Democratic Lieutenant Governor candidates, almost every participant a white woman.
At all the discussions of racial and social justice in my Unitarian Universalist congregation, the attendees are predominantly white people.
At an interfaith vigil that took place after the local JCC and UCC were vandalized with Nazi symbols and hate speech, all but a few attendees were white people.
At the university where I work, a place nationally recognized for the diversity of its student body, the faculty and staff meetings in my department are comprised almost entirely of white people.
At the local Huddle, every attendee is a white woman.
At the “Love Lives Here” family parade in response to Richard Spencer setting up shop in Alexandria, almost all protestors were white people.
At a dialogue hosted by the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution to bridge the post-election divide, all but two of the student organizers and one student participant were white people.
At the Kitchen Conversations at my house, eight of ten participants were white women.
Anyone see a pattern here?
Continue reading “Up to Here with Liberal White Women”
While little has the power to shock these days, 45’s evisceration of climate change rules still horrifies. Here in America, it’s a matter when-not-if we’ll start donning face masks to walk the dog. Also, when-not-if we’ll look back with something like fondness for such a quaint inconvenience as a face mask. This week marks yet another threshold moment we’ll someday read in history books about humankind’s relationship with its home.
Sweet notion, isn’t it? That we’ll have books? That anyone’s left to write them?
I understand that we need to fight back. Win at least one chamber of Congress. Jail another white supremacist or two, block the next attempt to gut the ACA, block the cops in riot gear with our cameras and bodies.
What I don’t understand is why we still insist on paper plates.
Continue reading “How Carrying More Weighs Less”