Tuesday, June 27, 2017

"Everyone's Welcome" is Cute, but Not Reality

My first thought when I saw the commercial of the little kids talking about their differences was, "gosh those kids are cute, but this isn't true."  If you don't know what commercial I talking about, you can view it here:

First off, the commercial reads as propaganda because we are only shown the clips and bits that the creators wanted us to see, and the creators clearly had an agenda.  We don't know what questions the children were asked or what all they talked about, we simply know what they wanted us to see.

Second off, we have to ask ourselves, "why?"  Why did the creators want us to believe that kids don't see different races or differently abled bodies?  What purpose does that serve?  This is a key point, because the creators clearly saw nothing wrong with the kids seeing and knowing other differences about themselves, but for some reason, it was so great that they didn't see the outward differences.

The motive behind that isn't actually helpful.  For a lot of adults it FEELS helpful.  How wonderful if we could all just not truly see our differences!  If they could be so inconsequential as to not be noticed, wouldn't that be great.  But what its really saying is far more problematic.  Its saying that these differences are not ok to notice, or virtuous to not notice.  This leads one to think or believe said differences don't have actual value or impact on the lives of those who bear the non-majority appearance.  And this is quite simply, not true.

In the last month I've had to deal with my kids being called the N word by online trolls, a neighbor accusing my 4-year-old of theft and calling him "that Black boy", bullies at school telling my daughter that White people are bad and Black people are good, multiple breakdowns about wanting our family to all match, and untold questions and looks from people (both kids and adults) in public as they try to make sense of our family.

And that is just in our tiny family that still gets to reside under an umbrella of White privilege due to my husband's and my race.  This isn't touching on the systemic inequalities faced by both people of color and non-able bodied individuals, which is where the true injustice is happening.

So before you applaud this commercial's lack of acknowledgment, remember that it actually hurts those around you who are not in the majority.  I promise that race is a constant part of our everyday, not because we choose for it to be by talking about it, but because it simply is.  There is no avoiding it.  No one in our lives doesn't see the different colors of the people in our family, including our own children.  And those differences have massive impact on their daily lives already.  So if the children around them are being taught that its best not to notice, then they aren't noticing the beauty or the hurt either.

Embrace reality over cute kids and a colorblind utopia of sorts; because minority communities don't have the option to not do so.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Your Theology Won't Let You Be Colorblind

I'm writing over at RAAN this week.
Much ink has been spilled on how the concept of colorblindness is not only unhelpful, but actively harmful. Yet, people who want to claim they don’t see color, or say things such as, “there’s only one race: the human race” are plentiful. You can see them come out in droves in the comment section of any online article touching on race or racism.  
The response is usually people of color begging them to see their “colorblind” words are hurtful and diminishes their (POC) lives. So I have a word for my fellow White Christian brothers and sisters.  Not only are your words hurtful, they are unbiblical. It’s time to examine not only how your words affect others, but your theology as well.
Read the rest at:

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Sitting in Saturday

Some of the most sound advice I've heard as of late about sharing what is going on in your life publicly was from Glennon Doyle.  She says to speak from your scars, not from you wounds.  So thus, I have been relatively quiet.  The wounds have been brutal.

There's a lot going on in our lives though.  Our kids are changing schools and we are changing churches.  These both come from (very different) places of brokenness and hurt and attempts at reconciliation that aren't happening in this current phase of life.  We hold onto hope that they will.  But sometimes before you can come to the table and process steps forward, you have to take time to heal your heart and soul.  And you have to make decisions that are painfully hard because you know, deep down, what you and your family need, so you don't shy away from walking through the valley.

And yet life still pushes forward.  One child tests out of an IEP while we begin evaluations on another.  The baby learns to walk and how to get into everything.  Scott has half the month of May booked already for work travel.  I continue to volunteer with CASA and the parent committee at school.

In the meantime, I've started doing some sub-contracting work for Be the Bridge, and its brought me so much joy.  Being able to write on a topic I love is life giving to me.  It brings some change to the day to day mundane of childcare and keeping up on the house and life.

Now seemed like a time to say something, albeit vague.  But sometimes simply typing out words is what I need to do so that I can release them from the tumult of my brain and take a deep breath again.

Which brings me back to were I started.  Words from Glennon.  She also speaks of this time of Good Friday to Easter in a way that makes where we are right now not seem so overwhelming.  These trials we face are much like this calendar season we just exited.  Good Friday.  The death.  The hurt.  The broken.  Saturday.  The waiting.  The wondering.  The mourning.  Easter Sunday.  The rising.

We sit in a Saturday state right now.  We are mourning and unsure.  But there is peace in knowing that at some point comes the rising and breath of new life.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Malachi - 1!

Our sweet, big bundle of love is ONE!

He's still going strong in the 90th percentile for height and weight at almost 25 lbs. and 31".

He's started walking.  WALKING.  Just 1-2 steps at a time, but I give it a week before he takes off.

Talking is his other strong suit.  He will even copy two word phrases, say "poopy" when he needs a diaper change, and "snack" when he's hungry.   Most his chatter during the day is babble though with "tucka-tucka" being his favorite phrase.

He's in 18-24 month clothes and moving up to size 5 diapers.

He takes one 3 hour nap a day and sleeps 11-12 hours straight a night.  Glory be.

We are trying to wean him off the bottle, but he doesn't agree with this plan.  He likes to pound a 10 oz. bottle several times a day on top of eating most everything we eat.  His favorites are peas, beans, scrambled eggs, chicken, and carrots.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

19 Must Read Books and 3 Must Watch Documentaries To Understand

If nothing else, I hope that last post helped stir up a sense of empathy and understanding for the depth of the divide in our country. Perhaps it also made you realize that the version of American history you've been given is not only incomplete, but perhaps deceptively Whitewashed.  

So how do you start to undo that? There isn't a simple article to read or movie to watch, just as your understanding of White American history didn't come from a quick read, understanding the nuance of race in America won't be quick either. But if you want to start digging in, here's your chance. Because ignorance isn't helpful to anyone; we owe it to those who have been marginalized for centuries to do some work so we can make some change.

These books are the 19 that have been most formative for me. Some eye opening, some infuriating, some energizing; but they all have served a vital role in where I am today. If you prefer book club style reading, I lead book studies through a group on Facebook called Be the Bridge to Racial Unity that you are welcome to request to join and hang with me on Facebook live discussing this goodness.

Amazon links are not affiliated.

Divided by Faith by Christian Smith and Michael Emerson
Trouble I’ve Seen by Drew Hart
Let Justice Roll Down by Dr. John Perkins
The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
White Rage by Carol Anderson
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
The Shame of the Nation by Jonathon Kozol
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

And for some movies:

Race: The Power of an Illusion

The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross

13th (Available on Netflix)

Monday, January 23, 2017

Didn't Feel Welcome at the Women's March, Conservative White Women? Let's Chat.

It's been a week.  No adjective needed, just a week.  And my inbox and text messages have been full. The reality is that a lot of people want to engage culture and current realities, but all seems so hard and divisive that where do you even start and is it even worth it come up a lot.

I have a dear, dear friend who is one of those people where you can call each other out and say what you need to say without qualifiers and they add them in for you and love you just like you are.  What a gift, right?  Gracious.  And that friendship is so beneficial to me.  It sands down my rough edges, sharpens my intellect, and draws truth out of me in ways surface level friendships never can.  Bless. It.

So we had a big ole discussion via text the last couple of days, because we both have a gaggle of children with a variety of needs and attempting to talk on the phone is a joke and who am I kidding, I hate the phone.

At the end of the conversation she said, "I need you to write this stuff down online so I can share it because my White heart needed to hear it."  I said ok, knowing that right now I have a million reasons that I have no time to write, but that now, more than ever, we need to speak and speak boldly.

So you know, the conversation started with talking about how the Lord created Xanax and mojito recipes are straight from the angels.  This is the kind of spiritual guidance we all need in our lives.

The meat of these discussions (as I've had them with lots of people the last few days) came down to this though, how can conservative Christian women who identify as pro-life, are in traditional marriages, and want equal rights for women engage in our current culture where you seem to have to have one full set of values or another without crossover.

The answer is that there is no simple answer.  But I do know this.  I don't need to fight to defend my heterosexual marriage.  No one has ever tried to make constitutional amendments against it nor have they used laws to try to nullify it.  I know that for the 400 years since Pilgrims landed on Plymoth Rock my Whiteness has never worked against me and my ancestors.  I know that no one in power is trying to keep me from being able to adopt, have children, or practice my religion.  So while my rights matter, they are not under attack.

But lets talk a little more about this divide.  Conservative Christian pro life women are not generally well received in the circles such as those represented at the Women's March.  In many cities they marched openly without issue, but there was hubbub before the march about a pro life group and their participation.  To many, that looked like the organizers of the march drew a line in the sand.  But I want to point something out.  They didn't draw a line, the line has existed for 400 years and was drawn by the White Church and we have to acknowledge that.

The history of the Church in America in regards to civil rights is horrifying.  Slave auctions would be held on Sunday afternoons so that church goers could easily attend.  Christians owned slaves.  Christians fought against abolitionists.  Christians would fight in the Confederacy to uphold state's rights to keep slavery legal.  Post-emancipation, lynchings would be held on Sunday afternoons so that church goers could partake and take photos and send postcards of the event to their friends.  White Christians would not allow Black Christians to sit next to them in pews or lead them in worship to the point that Black people had to form their own churches.  White people have tagged, shot up, bombed, and burned down those buildings.  White Christians started suburban private schools because they didn't want to participate in school desegregation.  They became associated with the Republican party at that time because the party promised to fight to let them stay segregated.  Years after the Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade, the same group that rallied Evangelicals around school segregation would start to lose their grip on the group, so they changed the platform to be a version of pro-life that said the only moral, ethical, and Christian opinion is to want to make abortion illegal.  And they succeeded in keeping their new voting block in the Republican party.

This is our history Whiter Christians.  So, White Conservative women have a lot of work to do before they will be safe to invite to marches such as the Women's March.  There is so much warranted hurt.  Imagine a man cheats on his wife and abuses her for 50 years.  Slowly, he decides to let up on that abuse in some areas.  Do you think she should now actually trust him?  Should she actually believe that he now wants to seek her good?  It won't be until he completely empties himself of his own desires and works for her best for years and years that she will maybe, slowly be able to believe that he might be safe.  Church, you are the abusive husband and our sisters of color, our LGBTQ sisters, our undocumented immigrant sisters who were marching on Saturday are the abused wife.

So when I say we have work to do, its no joke.  We still worship and live and go to school in segregated and unequal spaces.  81% of White Evangelicals voted for a man who confessed to sexual assault and then denied it happened, called immigrants from Mexico rapists, wouldn't allow Black people to work for him in positions the public could see them, called for increased militarization of police forces in minority communities, and vowed to remove provisions that have kept our most vulnerable populations able to access healthcare.

Until the Church can say, "not on my watch" for years or maybe even generations, little will change.  And those we have abused do not owe us safety at their marches.  We have to take a long suffering view on this.  Reconciliation may not happen in our lifetime, but if we don't lay serious groundwork now, our children will be fighting these same battles and seeing the same lines drawn in the sand.

Righting those wrongs might not mean attending the Women's March for you.  Which is fine, really!  Make that choice, but please don't respond by further building walls and considering yourself as discriminated or persecuted against for not feeling welcome.  There are lots of marches and rallies and community events to attend that work to bridge these divides and you are welcome to participate however you can.

For me though, I chose to march.  And I choose to speak out.  And that has meant being ostracized in some of my circles, but giving up a little bit of my privilege and comfort so others can have fundamental rights is not a price to pay, but an offering to give.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Evelyn - 8!

She turned 8 in September.  It's 30 minutes until January.  The end of this year has been the famous dumpster fire of 2016 though, so we aren't going to talk about that.

So here is her birthday interview.

Who is your best friend?  Nikyla, Mae, and Paige

What is your favorite color?  blue, yellow, and green

What is your favorite animal?  big cats

What is your favorite thing to do?  gymnastics

What is your favorite thing to wear?  shirts with skinny jeans and sweaters

What is your favorite food?  salads and hamburgers with french fries

What is your favorite show?  gymnastics movies

What is your favorite thing to do in Iowa?  play with my cousins

What is your favorite thing to do with daddy?  go on dates

What is your favorite thing to do with mommy?  snuggle

What do you want to be when you grow up?  an art teacher like Ms. McGrath

What do you want people to know about you?  I like to do gymnastics.

Our big second grader is growing by leaps and bounds.  She loves her siblings dearly when she's not trying to injure them.  She's a really great help with Malachi and loves playing house with him as her baby.  She's pouring her heart into gymnastics, getting fluent with reading, and is a social butterfly always wanting to hang out with friends.