White Privilege

Last summer, I took a class called “Dismantling Racism.”  In it, I was taught about White Privilege.  Before this class, I may have known it was a thing, but it never occurred to me that it was a HUGE problem.

White privilege clouds the vision of people against the tough reality people of color in this nation face.  I’ve heard plenty of white people, in a VERY white state say, “Well, I’ve had to work hard to get where I am, why shouldn’t every other race?”  What these people don’t realize is that it’s systematically harder for people of color – and the ignorance of white people just perpetuates it.

NPR posted an article about “The Talk” – a talk that parents have with their children about how to behave when they get pulled over, so as not to appear a threat.  LaVar Burton spoke to the reality that, as a black man, he may be seen as a threat more often than the rest of the population.

I remember my mother telling me, after she interviewed Police officers for an article she wrote, that they recommend keeping your hands at “10” and “2”, and not fishing around your glove box for papers – it looks like you might be fishing for a weapon.  She then said they would never suspect her of that – and it wasn’t said, but they might assume that as a woman, she’s safe, especially white.

My heart has been breaking lately over the fact that women are still overtly discriminated against in churches – In America!! – but now we see that it isn’t just women being discriminated against.  People of color are going through such systemic, under-the-radar discrimination, that parents must fear for their children’s lives.  I’m sad to say I had no idea until I got to grad school that the world still had so very much work to do.  I’ve shed tears, I know others have, and many will continue to do so about these issues.

But rather than give up, we must find HOPE.  Hope in the promise of the future, hope in groups of people in power REALIZING their privilege, and that God’s people can join together to fight injustice and fight for all God’s people to be safe in this world.

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Pants-down Style…

So, this summer I am working at my church – youth ministry, loving it.  My church is adjacent to a clinic, and they sort of share a parking lot.

Today, as I arrived, I saw a man by the trees that border the clinic’s lot.  I did not recognize him, and as it is a weekday, felt safe assuming he was waiting for someone at the clinic.  So far, my story is unremarkable – but wait!

He stood next to his car in a stance that suggested he was relieving himself.  I was a little horrified, and mostly mad – I wanted to park there, but I was CERTAIN if I did, I’d get a show I hadn’t paid for.

As I looked closer, his pants were below his buttocks, luckily he had underwear covering what was important.  It then looked like he was aggressively shaking something in the front of his pants, I wasn’t sure what as I was behind him.  (You can imagine how slack-jawed I was, staring at this point.)

Then, he stands upright with a pack of cigarettes, that he had apparently been fishing for, and that was the “shaking” I saw.

All I can say is, if he wore pants at his waist, or at least above his butt, I never would have assumed he was doing anything inappropriate.  I may never understand the pants-down style.  True story.

An example!!  Be advised, link has foul language, and is making fun of the same thing it's demonstrating.

An example!! Be advised, link has foul language, and is making fun of the same thing it’s demonstrating.

A rant against the “Skinny Cow.”

I’ve been watching a lot of Hulu lately, and I keep seeing the commercial for “Skinny Cow,” that talks about the “Wocave,” pronounced, “Woah-cah-vay.”  You can see it by clicking this link.

I. Hate. This. *******. Commercial.

I’ve never been one for commercials, but this one, in particular, is extremely frustrating to me. Never mind the fact that it’s promoting chemically filled food, which I have been trying to cut out, it’s just plain offensive.

First of all, Skinny Cow. I know the cow part is supposed to refer to the dairy products, but when they market exclusively to women, they run the risk of it being interpreted as a derogatory name for a heavy woman. Especially when they put skinny in front of it. Hrmph. It just seems not-woman-friendly to me. It may remind me of the fact that I was called, “Steffer-Heifer” when I was younger, and I carry a special frustration with it, but all the same, bad.

Secondly, it adds fuel to the fire that women and men are so distinct that they cannot possibly understand each other, or coexist. Women are refined and need a “classy” place to hide out with a STUPID, made up name; men are slobbering idiots who can’t keep things straight, and spend all their time screwing up and getting on their wives’ nerves.

This commercial is not helping the thought of gender equality. I don’t mean that male and female should be exactly the same, and I don’t even mean that we might not want time away from our spouses – we all need alone time, and that’s good. I just see this commercial as perpetuating the idea that men and women are so unbelievably, bicoastally different, and the “Us vs. Them” fight that seems to be going on is poisoning our society. Not to mention, what about gay and lesbians who might want to enjoy a low-cal dairy treat? What about straight men? Aren’t they allowed a “delicious” treat? (I hear it tastes like cardboard, and that’s from men & women)

We have to pay attention – things like this can teach our children that they should act a certain way based on their physical being. I think particularly of my sons. Should they only be expected to be slobbering, idiotic messes? Am I not allowed to be a slob because I’m a woman? Perhaps we are equal, but it’s time to start giving everyone dignity, and stop labeling bad behaviors as “male” or “female”, and treat each person as a unique person, created and loved by God.

I know, it’s a commercial, I should just get over it…but other people care too! See? Huffington Post Article

How old is old?

It came in an email – “Your dad has a blockage,” – and as if in ironic empathy, I felt my heart sink.

Other things that came in that same email – “We caught it early” and “We are getting it taken care of,” and “he’s going to be ok”, didn’t seem to pick my heart back up, at least not as high as it had been prior.

My father, a man who just turned 60, has always been at the pinnacle of physical health – tall, lean, and active.  Active to the point that even NOW I feel he could easily kick my butt in hand-to-hand combat, but he’s refrained from challenging me while I was in the midst of child-bearing.  (He’s also a gentleman.)

 

 

When I look at him, and my mother (who incidentally is in a new health kick and in the best shape I’ve seen her in years), I do not see the “aged”.  I remember when I was little, if I heard someone was in their fifties or sixties, they MUST have white hair, need a cane – I’m sure you know the picture I imagined.

Those white haired people, are my grandparents.  I have all four – the eldest 86, and still checking his cattle, the youngest 78, and working as a home health aid, taking care of home-bound persons much younger than she.

My question is, who is old?  I am not yet thirty, and feel so unbelievably old – that half my life is gone and I’ve accomplished so little.  My face starts to show lines, my joints are starting to ache, and my children are starting to get more and more – wait, it’s enough to say I HAVE CHILDREN.

And then I think, aging is a gift.  A gift God has given me, and others have not had the opportunity to continue.  It’s a gift many of the young and beautiful are struggling against illness to achieve.  It’s a gift that has allowed me to continue to have earthly bonds with my ancestors, to know them as an adult in a much more meaningful kind of way. 

Hollywood has taken the beauty of youth and pushed it before the beauty of life, a full life, in which battle scars mark our faces and bodies, telling stories of our past, giving us hope for our future.  It causes us to wrongly assume that life is over once we are done being “wrinkle-free.”  To that I say, bollox.

The doctor told us my father’s blockage was in the “widow-maker” artery.  Bedside manner lacking, it told us how lucky we were to have him here, with a simple stent to allow him to be as active as ever, if only with a new perspective – not just for him, but all of us.

Our time is limited here.  As a Christian, and a spiritual being, I have hope for promise of life beyond death, but I want to remain here as long as I can, to enjoy those I love as much as I can, and to help God’s creation as much as I can.

Be thankful for the gift of your life, thankful you have gained enough time to earn signs of age, and try to forget our consumption with physical appearance – only you have control of your insides, and only God can make judgment on that!