What Do I Do About the Racism?

I don’t know how to write this post.

I thought about it all day. I thought about it in the early shower I took tonight, specifically early so I could try to process what occurred today. How to process what is haunting me in a way that I’m unsure how to handle it at all.

I haven’t brushed my hair yet, haven’t put lotion on my winter-dry-skin face because I’m trying to process the blatant racism exhibited at a meeting I attended earlier today.

I told my husband, my parents, my co-workers what happened. And I haven’t figured out what I ought to have done. So, in the hopes that I can tag this post properly and use the right hashtags in tweeting it to get some ideas, here goes…

I’m involved with an organization and today was my first meeting as a member of its Board of Directors. I have a deep affinity for the organization and the community it serves.

There are, of course, other Board members. And I understand that just like the every day life I lead, everyone on the Board brings different perspective to the table. Which is perfect, of course. It’s what we want.

But today…

A fellow Board member began talking politics in the middle of the meeting, entirely off topic, specifically commenting on how Michigan’s Governor, Republican Rick Snyder, was doing a really good job. And while I’m from the complete opposite school of thought with regard to Mr. Snyder and the job he’s doing on a variety of fronts, I have learned JUST enough in my big-mouthed experience to not engage in political discussion in groups of people who I don’t know terribly well. It’s better for all of us, in times like these, to hold our beliefs close and work towards the common goals that bring us together. Political discussion works fine around our dinner table at home, on our back patio, over drinks, or where that is the point of bringing people together. But not in this setting.

So, I bit my tongue.

I even kept my eyes and face down so that no one could see my reaction – I’m an open book when it comes to my emotions.

I’d done well, I thought, in avoiding confrontation and making a scene.

And then, the same individual who had commented on Governor Snyder’s really good job, segued into a discussion about Detroit, about how he couldn’t understand how all these blacks had been elected mayor and driven the city to bankruptcy all those years, and then had to elect a white guy to get them out of bankruptcy.

So…

To say I was shocked was an understatement. I don’t THINK like that, let alone speak in public like that.

But here was this guy, saying these things.

And — I averted my eyes, bulging out of my skull though they were, avoided confrontation and avoided making a scene.

I. Said. Nothing.

Nothing.

And it’s haunting me tonight, 12 hours later. Having said nothing.

I feel as though my silence, in this rural Michigan town, somehow could be construed that I AGREE.

And I do not.

But, how does a white woman like me speak up, in a room of all white men and women, in a community of almost entirely white men, women and children? What words could I have used? What could I have said?

Honestly – I’m asking HONESTLY. What could I have said that wouldn’t jeopardize all the things I’ve worked toward personally and professionally?

I live in this community. I work in this community. I LIKE the community.

I DISLIKE people speaking this way.

Part of it is naivete – it’s not like I don’t know there are people in the world who feel that way about other demographic groups – but I didn’t…

I don’t…

I don’t know.

I could have made a statement, of course. I could have used my words – which can be sharper than knives – and could have stood up for how these words and the discussion made me feel. I could have said that it made me feel uncomfortable. But that would have put this person on the defensive, I fear, and it would have been confrontational. It could affect my work. It could affect my livelihood.

I guess what I am searching for are words – for the next time I find myself in a scenario where the discussion makes me feel uncomfortable and how I can deflect the topic while making it clear I do NOT agree with the views.

Sharing memes on facebook doesn’t change the way racism affects me, affects the community my family lives within. But the way I react and the words I use — maybe they can.

So what can I do? And how do I do it?

 

A Little Bit of Elle: January 2014

Over the first few days of 2014, I’ve done a much better job of capturing a few photos of Elle.
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Here, she’s playing ‘phone’ with a decorative phone I got from my Aunt Jenny, who grabbed it up at a garage sale in Clear Lakes years ago.

 

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And from today, after school ,watching a little Disney Junior and playing hide and seek in the family room.
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Elle Gets Her Hairs Cut

Well, I promised to be a better blogger.

And to do more photos.

I’ve been taking photos more daily, to attempt to make good on my goal. However, when I downloaded pictures from my fancy camera today, I realized that I had a TON that I hadn’t captured on the blog and I really want to, if only because it is Elle’s only baby book.

So, here we were in November on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

We took her to my stylist, Shannon. And Shannon gifted Elle a Blow-Pop, which she obviously wasn’t entirely sure how to do at first…she also was not wild about sitting by herself, so she’s sitting on my lap instead.

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DSC_0528 Isn’t the finished product just too cute for words?

New Year’s Resolution 2014: Be a Better Blogger

No kidding.

I actually thought long and hard about this one. (No, really, I did).

I took great pleasure in cataloging my pregnancy with Elle and her first year, and then the last 12 months have just been an ‘eehhhh’ year in blogging. Just take a look at the number of posts per month for the last 12 months (if I don’t make a rash decision and change the look of my blog tonight, you can see this on the right side of your screen).

So, I’ve resolved to be a better blogger. More consistent. I’ll shoot for 10 posts per month, which SHOULD be conservative but is probably and simply realistic for me and my life.

I’m going to figure out how to incorporate pictures easier (if anyone reading this is a fellow blogger, what’s the easiest way to do this – I feel like downloading/uploading photos constantly can’t be the only way – there HAS to be some handy app for that right?).

And I’m going to try to find a theme I like. I looked at shuffling pages around, at potentially finding a new blog name. But, I think The Baby Brain works. For now. But in the long run? I have a DBA of “Candy Tree Productions” that goes back to a candy tree that my Grandpa shook for me. I guess you could call it a summertime Santa Claus story, but it’s one of the defining memories of my childhood. Maybe naming the blog “Under the Candy Tree” or something? What do you think? Suggestions?

Here’s the logo that I had worked up for the business:

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What’d you think? I like it – but I’m not sure how I can use it and keep the blog name the same. I know there’s a gad-zillion ways to do it. I just haven’t settled on what way that will be. Yet.

In other news, Jon, Elle and I rang in the New Year by going to bed at 9 p.m. Sick and wrong and lovely all at once.

In full disclosure, Elle still gets a bottle (yikes, it hurts even writing that) at night, to go to bed. And she only wants a bottle. I was SO close at nine months old and at 18 months old to getting rid of the bottle from our life. However, more realistic heads prevailed and I figured my kid wouldn’t go to college drinking out of a bottle (at least not a baby bottle!) so I stopped letting it be something I tried to battle. Anyway, we were out of a) milk and b) bottles at 1:30 a.m. But guess who was awake? Our girl Elle. So, Jon went to the corner store for gas, I washed a bottle and we wished each other Happy New Year before rolling back over, getting kicked in the back by our toddler, and drifting off to sleep. Oh, the life!

I think that it’s likely that someday, in the relatively near future, we might learn to have fun again. But for now, we’re both working a lot, and tired, and going to bed at 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve is probably – actually – one of the better New Year’s Eve’s I’ve ever had. As my cousin Matt has always called it, New Year’s Eve is ‘amateur hour’.

ANYWAY – I really veered off path there but at least got a little info in on our NYE.

The goal for the year is to be a better blogger. Here’s to hoping! 🙂