Wednesday, April 21, 2021

how can we be better?

is alison roman racist? i know this whole kerfuffle took place awhile ago, but i ran across it again today. and i find myself, a generally pretty privileged, middle-aged white woman, wondering how i can do better and be better? do i have to stop making curries? or middle eastern food? or listening to that album i bought when i was in south africa in 2007? where is the line between exploitation and just really loving the flavors or sounds another culture has put together? of course, i realize it's different for me as an ordinary person and not a (former) food writer for the new york times, but it's worth thinking about how we negotiate these times. i think hiding away in our own homes for the past year has been a good start, but people are getting vaccinated and that can't last forever. 

in the wake of yesterday's much-deserved guilty verdict for derek chauvin, it seems more important than ever that we, as people who have, knowingly or not, enjoyed all the privileges of the color of our skin, pay attention and try to do better. though i'll also admit that i have no idea what that looks like. so what i'm trying to do is sit in the discomfort of it. and talk about it. and think about it. and read about it. 

i cannot even imagine how terrible it must be to have to explain to your child at a ridiculously young age that they have to behave in a certain way towards the police because if they don't, they might get killed. my child is 9 time zones away and i worry about her, but i don't worry about her being stopped for some flimsy reason and harassed or murdered. and that, right there, is white privilege. and i don't know what to do with it, other than sit in an awareness of my discomfort, because on some level, i can't help being white. i don't know how i can make the police behave differently. i'd join the protests if i were closer to them, but i'm not. i'm so far away and it feels like such an enormous, overwhelming, insurmountable problem. it makes me feel genuinely helpless and deeply sad. 

i have so much sympathy and empathy for the families who have lost their loved ones so senselessly to the ignorance and bigotry of police. and the insult of an excuse in which the police officer with 20+ years of experience says she didn't know the difference between her taser and her gun is just breathtaking in its awfulness. what was she doing with either one in that situation? use your words, lady. 

the conviction of derek chauvin is a start - it is nice to finally see a police officer getting the punishment he deserves. but how did the situation happen in the first place? and the trauma all of those who watched him kill george floyd - how will they ever get over it? the girl who made the film - what an admirable presence of mind she had - but how difficult that must have been. but thank goodness she did it. but how can she live with it? how do you live with watching a policeman, who is meant to protect and serve, kill a man for no reason in the slowest and most awful way right before your very eyes and your camera? and how helpless everyone looking on must have felt. they couldn't do a thing, because those four policemen all had guns. all they could do was bear witness. and at least in this instance, it paid off and finally, a policeman was held responsible for his heinous actions. but still, they have to live with that. at least chauvin will, hopefully, have a long time to ponder his actions in jail and will hopefully never see the outside of a cell again (just as he will never see that 140 pounds the defense claimed he weighed. please. we have eyes.)

but the rest of us have to ponder our actions as well. whether it's crediting the cultures whose food we make and love, rather than appropriating them and claiming them as our own, or whether it's sitting in the discomfort. i genuinely can't help that i was born white into a middle class family in the latter half of the twentieth century, so i can't undo that. but i can at least try to recognize that that fact has brought me great privilege, perhaps in ways that i don't yet even see. but i can begin to think about it and try to do better towards those who didn't have the same good fortune as me. and i can demand change by voting for those who are willing to make it. 

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have you seen this amazing one-shot drone video in a bowling alley?

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