Black Out Tuesday.

Putting a belated pause on the blog today to turn toward fighting injustice.

I will never forget George Floyd calling for his mother, or the depth of hurt and anger on the faces and in the actions of so many in our country after centuries of discrimination and brutality.

This must change.

I must change.

****

I have received deserved criticism for posting my planned content this week. Thank you for helping me do better. I am working through how to engage meaningfully and authentically with this moment in my own life and here, on this blog.

I have removed this week’s posts in deference. I did not want to delete yesterday’s because of the comments left on it that have held me accountable for my missteps: removing the post felt like erasing those voices of dissent, and, from what I am learning in Leyla F. Saad’s book, deleting what I have written on a social media platform after the fact is a version of white fragility. So I have republished their feedback here:

From Molly:

I was also a little disappointed to read today’s post. I know that you write with great care and attention, and that takes time – it’s also why I love this blog and you’re writing so much! However, it just reeks of tone-deafness to me to post all about children’s toys and clothes. Nearly every other blog that I read refrained from a post full of affiliate links today as we as Americans are all forced to publicly reckon with 400.
years of oppression of the Black community.

You are a white woman from DC who waxes poetic about your time at UVA – I cannot imagine that you did not witness racism while you were there (I know that I witnessed it at my college in the Northeast that is similar in size, rigor, and student population to UVA). Surely that had an impact on you and the way you think and live your life now; your writing is too thoughtful and introspective for it to not have.

We white women have benefitted enormously from the racism of women who came before us, who fought for our rights at the expense of Black of women. Any white woman who has a platform right now should be using it to amplify Black voices and also to seek to change the hearts and minds of the mostly (i’m guessing) white women who read your blog and might be empathizing more with the police than with Black mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters whose generational hurt has been laid bare over this past week.

I would not put the time into writing out this comment if I didn’t genuinely love your writing; I just want to know that I can keep enjoying it in good conscience.

From Katherine:

I was encouraged to see your post yesterday and was looking forward to seeing what you would share today. I’m a little disappointed! I don’t think anyone expected you to be able to comment expertly or inexpertly on the events of the past week but acknowledge and attention seems paramount. It seems like it would have been easy to include a few additional links in this post about how to engage with this moment. Just a line or two! Surely there is room for both? I know there has been a lot of empty “linking” but I think acknowledgment is still important.

I love your blog in large part of for your thoughtfulness, but I must say the posts over the past week have really confused me a little. I’ve been grappling with why there was space here for mastering the “art” of conversation yet there is too much discomfort to attempt to discuss the racial events of the past week? Why doesn’t the ‘art’ of conversation extend to these matters? This is a question I’m asking myself too- I recognize it makes me uncomfortable also! I think there is value in discussing this.

Anyway, I hope this will be a space that celebrates all the things it always has, because that’s why we come here! But also, I hope it will acknowledge the realities were are living through and challenge us to rise to a higher level of thoughtfulness and reflection when necessary. I think there is plenty of room of both and I hope you do too.

18 Comments

  1. Jen- This post as well as your conversation with everyone in the comments has made me so proud to be a part of your community! Thank you so much for your continued thoughtfulness and willingness to listen. I’m eager to learn with you and grateful for your thoughts.

    1. Hi Katherine – Lucky to have you here and lucky to be a part of this Magpie community! Thank you for your continued readership. xxx

  2. Thank you. This right here is the hard work that white folks need to be doing. Examining our past actions, taking responsibility, owning up to our shortcomings, being willing to learn and improve. Few of us are going to nail this 100% of the time. It’s a process. Thanks for sharing yours.

    1. Thank you, Anna, for the encouragement and continued readership. Onward! And hopefully upward.

      xx

  3. I have to say I don’t agree at all with the criticism you received. It is your blog and you are free to post what you choose. If someone wants to read (Or write) about current news/topics/social justice that’s great, but they shouldn’t just assume you want to discuss it on your blog.

    1. Hi Caroline — Thank you for chiming in here, and for your readership. A few other readers have expressed similar sentiments and I appreciate your defense of this space as a creative outlet. I found the feedback instructive, though, and, as I hope I have always been, remain open to input.

      I do want to clarify and reassure that I will continue to write about this moment and every other topic on my blog in a way that feels organic and authentic to me.

      xx

  4. I want to echo Molly and Tricia’s comments here — thank you for your accountability and for taking criticism to heart (to say nothing of publicly posting it, which is much more than I can say for many blogs I know!) These actions go so far with me and make me want to continue to read what you have to say. Thank you for being so thoughtful — xx

  5. Hi Jen – I am a frequent reader of your blog and enjoy mulling over your thoughtful analyses on topics big and small. Throughout my readership, however, I have noticed that your blog imagery reflects a specifically white (and typically thin) female aesthetic . The pictures you choose to center in your posts typically reflect a relaxed, glamorous, and beautiful thin white woman, sometimes featured with her beautiful white children.

    I respect that as the curator of these images and this blog that you have the artistic authority to choose how you curate your website. However, if you are looking to be more inclusive in your work I would encourage you to look beyond these images to find beauty in people of color. This work is important in the work of dismantling notion around the current and pervasive white ideals of beauty that exist in the United Stated and across the world.

    I say all of this with the best of intentions, as I genuinely enjoy reading your block and appreciate your deftness with language. In future posts, should you choose to continue writing on topics of race, I would appreciate your take on white ideals of beauty, your reflections on ways that you have examined your understanding of race in the past and now, and ongoing amplification of BIPOC creators/artists. Your voice is important and I implore you to add it to the conversation!

    1. Hi there! First, thank you for your readership, for your generous words, and for taking the time to write about this. I completely agree with your critique of the images I have used. I am committed to featuring more diverse imagery and also plan to feature more BIPOC-owned businesses as well as read and review books from a more diverse canon of authors.

      In the future, I’d like to invite you to share your thoughts with your own name attached! Your perspective is valuable, welcome, and safe here. No need to hide!

      xx

  6. Jen – Molly here. I am amazed by your willingness to take comments to heart and to reflect and learn. The level of grace you show to us readers is something that I find so admirable.

    Looking forward to more of your writing in the future xoxo

    1. Hi Molly – Thank you, and, honestly, right back at you — I admire the civility and thoughtfulness with which you and a couple of other readers have advanced criticisms during this complicated, deeply upsetting time. Thank you for helping me keep this space honest, open, and kind. And thank you for your continued readership!

      xxx

  7. Hi Jen, I just want to say that I hope you don’t feel undue pressure from those comments. This is your blog, and you have every right to post the content that you originally planned. Likewise you have the right to pull content if you really feel moved to do so. Rest assured that you have at least one reader who did not find yesterday’s post inappropriate (and was planning to reference it when I need new outdoor activities – hope it’s not gone forever!) and will miss reading your blog over my morning coffee for the rest of this week.

    1. Hi Stephanie – Thank you for this note, and for your continued readership. I found the feedback instructive, and admire the thoughtfulness and civility that all of the commenters (yourself included) have shown in advancing various perspectives on this topic and also, incidentally, on many complicated topics in which I have likely made many more missteps. Thank you, again, for your loyal readership and commentary over the past many months.

      xx

  8. I agree with Molly’s comment above about UVA. I went to UVA and saw some of the following instances of racism at our school:

    1) From the get-go, getting told you only got into UVA in the first place because of your background/skin color/quotas.
    2) POC getting turned away from frat houses.
    3) Women of color not getting the sorority bids they wanted (or any).
    4) Primarily POC visibly serving the predominantly white student population in the dining halls, cleaning the dorms, in the libraries, etc. (I have always wondered if actual descendants of Thomas Jefferson still serve the students..)
    5) POC getting turned away at bars like Trinity despite having the same fake IDs that other students have.
    6) POC getting targeted at Foxfield for underage drinking.

    This is not to say I am holding you accountable for what happens at UVA. Just that I appreciate Molly’s point. It is obviously not your job to write about racism at UVA if you never experienced it or saw it and no one is going to ask you to co-opt other people’s experiences. I still look back fondly on my time there. I loved going to Morning Prayer at the Chapel, tailgating football games, and eating Little John’s after bar hopping just like anyone else.

    1. Hi Ana – I can’t imagine what any of these individual experiences must have felt like, or how they have felt as a collective pattern. I am so sorry you have had to and continue to endure this. Hearing your story is spurring me into deeper thought and action and I appreciate your sharing it. I am sure it took bravery and thought to outline them as you have here.

      I also observed instances of racial prejudice at UVA and in fact at all schools I attended and have been reflecting on them for years and years and years. Recent events have returned me to them with particular intensity. I hope to be able to turn some of my observations into a meaningful post in the near future.

      In the meantime, thank you for your continued readership.

      xx

  9. Thank you for holding yourself accountable and for publicly sharing criticism. It makes me feel better about continuing to follow a blog I have very much enjoyed after feeling some disappointment in reading your post this weekend.

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