A: let's write today
L: about what?
L: what could we possibly write about?
A: good point
We write about what we’re talking about, and we’ve been talking a lot about this. And by this, we mean systemic racism. So here we go. Again. Don’t misunderstand us, we’ve also been obsessively talking about Covid, whether schools will actually start in September, how it’s possible that it’s been more than 3 months since Laura’s mother died, whether there’s any way for Angie to successfully recreate the homemade pickles her Grama used to make. So yes, we have plenty swirling around in our brains, but we aren’t letting the focus on systemic racism get buried in the noise of our everyday lives. Our light-hearted-text-obsessed selves will be back, some day but until then, we’re staying here. Feels like here is where we belong right now.
We’re committed to reading articles and listening to podcasts and watching documentaries and absorbing and learning as much as we can. And while doing so, we’ve drilled down on one thing - standing up when we see or hear or experience racism. We’re eager to stand up. We’re empowered to stand up.
Thing is, we’re super eager and empowered when we’re talking to each other and our like-minded friends. That seems easy and completely doable. Like hell yeah we can do this! But what about the tough situations, the ones we know are on the horizon, the ones we know aren’t going to be so easy or doable. And what about all those times in the past when we didn’t stand up? When it felt really hard to stand up?
There was this time…..at a board meeting when a man was verbally abusive towards a woman in front of 18 other board members. It wasn’t subtle, it was aggressive and wholly inappropriate. Only one person stood up (it wasn’t either of us, fyi), expressed her disgust, and left. In the moment, the rest sat there and did nothing - they were stunned, paralyzed, silent, dare we say complicit.
And then there was this time…..when there was an off-handed, derogatory comment said about Jewish people to one of us (pssst, we’re both Jewish). And guess what one of us did? Yep. She did the opposite of stand up. In that moment, she sat there and did nothing - she was stunned, paralyzed, silent, dare we say complicit.
We recognize these scenarios are not steeped in racism but they remind us of how hard it is to stand up in the moment. How easy it is to not stand up, to let it go, to brush it under the rug, to pretend it didn’t really happen, to justify it by believing they didn’t really mean it, to think about the perfect thing to say later, but the moment has passed.
It’s hard. Especially when confrontation makes you feel hot and sweaty and a little nauseous. Especially when you’re worried about the repercussions, whether from a boss, or a client, or a close friend or a relative. Especially when you’re not prepared.
So let’s get prepared.
First of all, no more excuses.
No more - I don’t want to ruin everybody’s good time.
No more - I don’t want to offend anyone.
No more - I don’t want people to think I’m judgmental.
No more - I don’t want people to tell me to lighten up, that I’m too sensitive, that it was just a joke.
Second of all, we’ve been considering different situations and what responses would be most effective. Could be a subtle microaggression or a discussion about taking down confederate statues or a blatant racist remark or a racist joke.
We realize we’re going overboard on how to do this just right, while at the same time we realize there isn’t a just right. Sometimes maybe ‘Just stop it’ or ‘C’mon, you’re funny as hell but no need to tell racist jokes to get a laugh’ will work. Other times, maybe ‘What do you mean, I’m not sure I understand?’ or ‘Tell me why you feel that way because I know your intention isn’t to be racist’ might be a better alternative.
So while this entire concept may seem elementary, while practicing our words may seem simplistic, while we won’t always have the right words, while we know we’ll sometimes use the wrong words, we’ve decided that no matter what, we’re going to say or do something. Because the truth is, the only way to fail at this is to do nothing.
Group text with Morgan, one of Ellie’s friends.
Yes, we’re in a group text with one of Ellie's friends.
A: laura and i working on blog post
A: can u send us some of those memes?
L: there are still memes?
M: here are a few of my recent favorites
L: love those
L: angie’s following u on insta now
M: fair warning that i’m very open on the gram
A: that’s hard to tell, thx for the full disclosure
M: and how’d the pickles turn out?
A: oh, the ones i was bragging about?
A: they’re disgusting
A: like salty bitter throw-up-in-your-mouth disgusting
M: that’s what happened to mine! what are we doing wrong?
A: idk but i’m going to figure it out
A: right after i finish making my chicken cutlets
A: which i’ve mastered btw
A: i even make them for lunch now
L: u make hot lunches now?
A: i do