A Start.

I have been reticent to write because I have felt that this moment is not mine.

Rather, this moment is about the daily, lived experience of injustice that black Americans endure. I must make space for the depth and rawness of their pain and rightful outrage.

And so I bristle at the thought my own distress over the state of things and my complicity in them might interrupt or — worse — co-opt a narrative that belongs to my black neighbors. Theirs are the voices that must be attended to, the names that must be said.

But in another sense, this moment is mine and is precisely about me — in the sense that I am complicit in the systems and norms from which their pain stems, and in the sense that this moment must radicalize me to action if there is hope for change.

My ill-formed, paltry thoughts on this subject are not why you come to me and my blog. You come in search of distraction, beautiful clothing, the occasional musing on motherhood and marriage, and book reviews–in so many words: a light touch. There are infinitely better, more informed, more reputable sources on race in America. And I am horrified at the prospect that the deep, real trauma and suffering of others might appear sidelined by my inadvertently bending this conversation into an intellectual exercise over white privilege.

So I will proceed with tremendous caution in my writing because words do matter.

But in the self-reflection borne belatedly of this week’s news, I have also determined that there are ways I can do better with the means at my disposal to live out anti-racism and stand up with black Americans–ways that go beyond listening, reading, signing petitions, and donating, like featuring BIPOC-owned businesses in my shopping round-ups, including more diversity in the imagery used on this blog, and selecting book club picks from a more inclusive canon of authors, to name a few–

and I will start there.

27 Comments

  1. Thank you for writing about this, Jen. Race is certainly not an easy topic to navigate, but as I’ve come to realize based on reading and reflection the past couple of weeks — the “discomfort” of learning is a privilege compared to Black people experience, particularly how they fear for their LIVES and their safety just doing everyday things. I consider myself a woman of color (being Southeast Asian) but I too have benefited from the privilege of education and the “model minority myth”. It’s a lot to unpack.

    Do you have any plans to bring back your “women of substance” series? I enjoyed those posts and would love to see BIPOC featured, if you ever resume writing the series!

    Thank you for acknowledging the current events on your platform. We simply cannot turn away from it.

    1. Hi Mia! Would love to bring back the Women of Substance series with a more diverse lineup of stars! Thanks for the suggestion.

      Completely agree with you re: the modest discomfort I am experiencing in writing about this vs. the intense, prolonged experience of hurt and anger and fear Black people live with. One thing I have been thinking a lot about is why it is so hard for me to talk directly about race. This is a topic a lot of experts have already written a lot about in the context of “white fragility.”

      Thanks for chiming in here!

      xx

  2. I think so many of us white folks hesitate to speak up for fear of saying the wrong thing (and when we do speak up, we get it wrong a lot). But this willingness to learn, to do better, and to be willing to mess up and accept criticism on a public forum is exactly what we all need to muster.

  3. As I read my usual list of blogs and websites this morning, they almost all had a post relating to this topic. They offered lists of sources and discuss at length their plans of action. I read several lists of the same non-profits, monies donated and books to read. While I trust that some will follow through in the long run, I anticipate many write for a show of face that will not materialize months and years from now.

    After reading and ruminating, I’ve found your words to be the ones I needed and wanted to hear. You acknowledge the issue, take a stance and commit to doing your part while allowing those who are experts to take the lead and to let us hear their voices.

    Your voice shines as one of the most organic I have read today and greatly appreciate it.

    1. Hi Melinda – Thank you for taking the time to comment (a-first-time commenter — welcome!) and for the ultra-generous words. Now time to get to work…xx

  4. Thank you for speaking up, Jen! It means a lot to me and, I’m sure, other readers, who come to you both for your thoughtful writing on freighted topics AND lighter finds.

    I’m especially intrigued about your thoughts on diversifying your book club picks. This is an area where I have a real interest, though I know education is not enough. Two books I already own that will be bumped to the top of my reading pile are The New Jim Crow (Michelle Alexander) and The Warmth of Other Suns (Isabel Wilkerson). I am excited to hear about other suggestions you might have down the road.

    I completely agree with you that we need to center the voices of BIPOC during this time, but it’s clear to me that we also need to use our platforms and privilege to amplify their causes, to stand up in support of them, and to have difficult conversations with people in our lives who may not be anti-racist themselves. I also think it’s so important to do the work ourselves and not rely on our BIPOC friends/acquaintances to carry that emotional labor for us.

    Thank you again, so much, for writing about this. It truly means a lot to me as a loyal reader! xx

    1. Thank you, MK. Stay tuned on book club picks — doing some research, reading a few on my own, and will share back. Thanks for these two suggestions though! xxx

    2. The Warmth of Other Suns was one of the best books I read in 2019 (and I read a lot). Its size is intimidating but it reads fast because it’s so compelling.

  5. Thank you for writing this. As a BIPOC reader, I was bothered by your postscript on 5/26 about a critique from a different reader. When I saw how you attempted to nonchalantly bring it up via the postscript, I thought to myself, doesn’t she have more important things to worry about than a comment left by a random reader? This was not the first time I have bristled at something you have posted, even though I know you write with a lot of thoughtfulness. This blogpost is a great first step, so thank you for that.

    Regarding your return for running – I myself run regularly and am trying to find a shirt that says #iRunWithMaud that simultaneously donates to a good cause. I encourage others to do the same.

    1. Hi Ana — Thank you for the thoughtful comment, and for your continued readership even when I put my foot in my mouth. It pains me to think I have put you off in the past — I appreciate your calling me on it and hope to do better by you in the future.

      xx

  6. Thank you- this was beautiful. I’ll admit I was puzzled why you had stayed silent up until this point- not because I believe you owe anyone on the internet anything, but because of your thoughtfulness and your ability to deftly handle difficult topics with grace and consideration. I was very much looking forward to hearing what you had to say. So thank you, for saying it.

  7. Jen, thank you so much for posting. You articulated such a complex position deftly – no surprise there. I also wrestle with the fear of saying the wrong thing and knowing that my story isn’t the important one in this context. But, that fear has kept me too quiet for too long. It is on us to be actively anti-racist, to confront the fact that white women’s fear is used as a tool of white supremacy, and to do the work ourselves without putting additional burdens on black Americans to instruct us in this moment. I appreciate your concrete commitments here and I’m looking forward to supporting your efforts.

  8. I so enjoy your musings. Your writing is beautiful and, on occasion, even lyrical. I look forward to seeing how your thoughts evolve and are shared with us.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *