Listen to Black Women — Repost from Heidi Barr

Most of this month I’m traveling – a combination of work and pleasure – so my writing routine is erratic. Plus, my mind is whirring with issues I care about deeply – preservation of orca whales and the Salish Sea, white supremacy and white privilege, the Supreme Court nomination process, immigration policies, and Hurricane Florence to name a few.  I’m searching to find what I can do as a writer to contribute to conversations on these topics.

Fellow Homebound Publications author Heidi Barr is seeking, too. In a recent post, she expressed well my desire, like hers, to write about white privilege; I received Heidi’s permission to re-post her essay here.  I’ll continue to listen to black women and other people of color and examine my white privilege. And I hope I’ll have the courage, like Heidi, to risk saying the wrong thing. Remaining quiet is no longer an option.

Heidi invited readers to add to her list of resources at the end of her post.  Here’s one I recommend:  So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. Thank you, Heidi, for speaking about racism. I look forward to more conversations.

“America would not be the wealthy country it is without slave labor. We would not have our power or wealth if we had not, for a very long time, depended on the unpaid labor of millions of human beings. I feel like I shouldn’t have to spell this out, but maybe I do. America was […]

via Listen to Black Women — Heidi Barr | Author

*Afterthought #78 – The Plank in My Own Eye

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Margaret Renkl, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, published a piece just yesterday (July 30) that is a meaningful afterthought to my post, Going Further to Stand With People of Color. Based in Nashville, TN, Renkl writes about flora, fauna, politics, and culture in the American South. In “How to Talk to a Racist,” she references Matthew 7:1-5 with this advice:

So take a breath. When you encounter a person who believes he’s merely honoring his ancestors by driving a car with an image of the Confederate battle flag on the tag, when a Facebook friend announces that it’s disrespectful to take a knee during the national anthem, when you sit down next to someone at the church picnic who genuinely loves and respects the black people they know but who consistently votes for politicians with overtly racist policies, stop for just a moment and take a breath. 

Before you say a single word, think of all the times you made an assumption about a stranger that proved to be untrue. Think of the times you found yourself feeling uneasy in the company of strangers of another race — think about how you were forced to interrogate that uneasiness. Think of the plank in your own eye. 

To begin a real conversation about racism, start there.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about that plank in my eye, and I have a lot more to do as I study Fit for Freedom, Not for Justice: Quakers, African Americans, and the Myth of Racial Justice by Vanessa Julye and Donna McDaniel. Writers like them and Margaret Renkl are good companions.

 

 

*Afterthoughts are my blog version of a practice followed in some Quaker meetings. After meeting for worship ends, people continue in silence for a few more minutes during which they’re invited to share thoughts or reflect on the morning’s worship. I’ve adopted the form here for last-day-of-the-month brief reflections on headlines, quotes, books, previous posts, maybe even bumper stickers.

Going Further to Stand with People of Color

A second load of laundry is on the line after emptying suitcases last night.  I had unpacked slowly, thinking about the four-day gathering with Friends (Quakers) we had just returned from. This year’s North Pacific Yearly Meeting at the University of Puget Sound focused on racism and featured Vanessa Julye , the coordinator of the Ministry on Racism at Friends General Conference.

Vanessa has written extensively about her journey toward eliminating racism in the Religious Society of Friends. In this short video from QuakerSpeak, she talks about Quakers and Racism.

Vanessa is also co-author, with Donna McDaniel, of Fit for Freedom, Not for Justice: Quakers, African Americans, and the Myth of Racial Justice.fff cover

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I’m still digesting all that Vanessa presented and that we all shared with each other in response to this query:

How can we European-American Quakers go further in standing with all people of color and in sharing the power that has been part of white privilege?

Conversations about the ways European-Americans have benefited from white privilege and white supremacy were tough for me. I need to consider what I heard and to take a close look at how I’m complicit in racism. In the coming weeks, I’ll strive to take more steps to stand with people of color.

*Afterthought #73 – Diverse Reading

 

so_many_books_so_little_time_book_lover_mug-rbea615033e65472aa410e89e12f61101_x7j1l_8byvr_324The only downside to working at Lopez Bookshop is that at the end of each shift I feel a bit blue—and overwhelmed—about all the books I want to read and haven’t gotten to yet. And knowing that the next week, there will be another stack of New Arrivals calling out to me. There’s a reason the truism “So Many Books, So Little Time” emblazons t-shirts, tote bags, and coffee mugs.

With limited time for “pleasure” reading, I have to settle on just a few titles every month or so. I recently joined a book club for the first time, and that takes care of one selection. Recently I started following the blog Reading Diversely by Lopez Island native Emma Ewert (now transplanted to Montana). In her blog’s introduction, avid reader Emma notes that last year her reading habits started to shift, “…consciously choosing to read books written by women, or people of color, people from other non-European countries, or people from other typically marginalized groups.”

Despite the reality that male writers are published in far greater numbers than women writers, and that white authors dominate the literary world, Emma created an enormous book list of diverse authors she’s read since she began this challenge in April 2017.

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It might take me the rest of my life to read all of the books on Emma’s shelf as of today, not to mention all the other fine titles she’ll undoubtedly continue to add. But I’m grateful to have her recommendations to help with the tough choice of what to read next.

tear in soulI have a suggestion for all of you, and for Emma, that meets her list of criteria for diverse reading. As soon as I finish this post, I’ll return to a book I’ve just begun (and can hardly put down)—A Tear in the Soul by Australian author Amanda Webster. The memoir relates Amanda’s personal journey to uncover her own racism, and that of generations of Australians, toward Aboriginals, and to move toward reconciliation and friendship.

What diverse reading have you done lately?

 

*Afterthoughts are my blog version of a practice followed in some Quaker meetings. After meeting for worship ends, people continue in silence for a few more minutes during which they’re invited to share thoughts or reflect on the morning’s worship. I’ve adopted the form here for last-day-of-the-month brief reflections on headlines, quotes, books, previous posts, maybe even bumper stickers.