What do we (white folks) say in moments like this?
I don’t know.
It’s embarrassing and infuriating. Let’s not excuse hate crimes for mental illness. Let’s not mistake changing our profile pictures or using hashtags as solidarity. Let’s not pretend we can understand this.
One thing I know is true. We have to start with ourselves, our children and our community. We have to talk to each other about race in this country. We have to manage the feelings of guilt and embarrassment. We can’t be ignorant any longer.
Reading material here. Here. Here.
In this post, you will read an email I wrote to the authors of 100 Days of Real Food, a popular blog about cutting processed foods out of our families’ diets, after they blocked me from commenting on their Facebook page. What did I do to get blocked? I responded to this comment: “I just had lunch with my daughters at school, and it’s amazing how some of the ‘packed’ lunches are FAR worse than what the cafeteria provides. Makes me sad for those growing, active kids who get very little (or no) ‘real food’ all day long.”
My comment, which they hid from the Facebook page within an hour, was along the lines of: “This sounds very judgmental. Many families don’t have the access you do, and you are making gross assumptions about other parents.” I’d like to post my actual comment along with this email so that you know exactly what I said, but they deleted it from their page and blocked me from ever commenting again. Their Facebook post really bothered me because the assumptions white women make about “other people’s children” aren’t fair and don’t take into consideration systemic issues related to racism and poverty.
So I sent 100 Days of Real Food an email to voice my concerns, and this is what it said.
This news is a little old, but I wanted to chime in on the Suzy Weiss story because it raises important issues about the idea of white culture and perfection. Suzy Weiss is the young woman who wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal titled To All the Colleges that Rejected Me. In the article, the 18-year-old Weiss writes that she may have had a better chance at getting into the Ivy League schools she was rejected by if she had been the daughter of lesbians, a student of Color, or a variety of other things. My take? She simply wasn’t “good enough” and that it was easier for her to blame diversity issues than to accept that she didn’t meet their criteria.
First off, all I know about this young woman is from her article in the WSJ and an interview on the Today show. She’s young, white and doesn’t know the severity of what she is saying. I know without a doubt that at 18 I picked through the scholarship booklet and realized there were no scholarships for middle class, average white girls like me. I guarantee I complained about it at the time. 18-year-old Buffy hadn’t put all the pieces of the world together yet. I thought I knew a lot about what was happening around me, and I felt very grown up at the time.
I saw Tim Wise speak at the University of Washington on April 9 and it was amazing. I’ve watched a ton of Tim Wise videos and read his book, “White Like Me,” but seeing him in person was a different experience.
There is something to be said about a person who doesn’t mess around when talking about racism. He doesn’t waver: racism exists, it destroys, and if we aren’t actively working to change it–we are participating in its continuation. Tim Wise doesn’t F around.
But it wasn’t just Wise that got me thinking after the lecture. It was one of my friends who went with me. She explained to Wise that as a Latina woman studying in higher education, she finds herself reliving trauma every time the subject of race comes up in the classroom.
Wow. I’m blown away by the response to White Mom Blog. I started this project a month ago and didn’t know what Freshly Pressed was. Now, thanks to Freshly Pressed, I have a larger base of readers that I am excited/nervous/thrilled about. Thank you and welcome!
I started the blog for several reasons. The first is that I have been thinking about issues involving race and whiteness for years now. I’ve written several papers for graduate school and researched as much as I can on whiteness and white privilege (just a heads up–there’s not much out there). I wanted a base for the questions I was asking myself. The second is the added complexity from the birth of my daughter last September. No one could have prepared me for how much questioning and reexamining I would be doing as a new mom.
So many articles, websites and mommy blogs don’t resonate with me–the Photoshopped pictures, red lipstick and vintage matching outfits feel so foreign and unrealistic. The formula is the same for many sites: a white mom (although race is never mentioned) writes about her life, she has several kids, uses lots of colorful photos, and employs a mix of humor or sarcasm to finish it off. I read and ask myself, “Is this what I’m supposed to be?”
People have commented that I seem narrowly focused on race. I can understand why they feel that way. However, there are so many different ‘isms’ that intersect in our lives that we really can’t talk about one without the other. Racism, sexism, ageism, gender discrimination, poverty–these are all topics that will be explored here. But I’ll do that with a lens of self-reflection as a white woman trying to raise her child to be social justice-minded in an increasingly segregated city.
The other day, I came across a tweet about a Wisconsin school being investigated for teaching white privilege. Apparently, a parent at this particular school became very upset after reading the content of a course her son was taking titled “American Diversity.” The mother felt the curriculum was being used to teach white students that they are racist and oppressive. She also felt the lesson on white privilege made her son feel unearned guilt for being white.
I can’t speak to how the material was presented or what the exact lesson plans were, but my takeaway is simple: kids aren’t the only ones who need these lesson—adults do, too.