I have been in Billings for a year today, June 18th, 2020.
I am humbled.
I am shocked.
I can’t really fathom everything I’ve managed to do and accomplish in the last year, no, really in the last 18 months.
Since school got out on May 29th, I have just been flat exhausted. I’ve been sleeping a lot, to the point that it feels embarrassing. I’m sleeping like a teenager that partied until 3 am. But I’m not partying. I’m just tired.
The sheer gravity of what I did and who I have become in the process is like a weight. I would love to say that I feel free as a bird flying high in the sky, but I don’t. I have been soaking up what is happening in the world, and it is such a toxic and dehumanizing place for so many people.
A lot of what I’ve been thinking and processing since Covid_19 made us all stay home is what a privilege it is to be me. And then when protests started to erupt worldwide about systemic racism and severe discrimination and disenfranchisement, I got even more thoughtful.
Right now it feels like, who am I to feel proud? Who am I to talk about my struggle? I never lost my income due to Covid. I never got discriminated against for job opportunity or housing loans due to my whiteness.
But there’s no reason to use my whiteness as a weird shield and to be self-deprecating about my accomplishments. I am not looking for pity, and I never did. People of color have never been looking for pity, either.
Black people, indigenous people, trans people, people of color and minoritized people just want the same opportunities as every other person in this country. To not talk about my story as some type of penance is misguided allyship. But to ignore the work of so many BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) women that have done the same kinds of work is ignorant.
How do I talk about my story and my work while also elevating and honoring the work of BIPOC women in the US and the world?
I’m still thinking about that. I think for now, mostly, it means to do my own work so I can be a better ally. To pay for classes taught by BIPOC women in the things that are central to my values and my work. To pay for some classes taught by white women when they’re the right class to take. To be thoughtful about how I consume and use social media. To be especially thoughtful about what I produce as a content maker.
I am currently taking classes and or reading about Women’s empowerment. Feminist theory. Women’s reproductive rights. LGTBQIA+ rights. Education reform and anti-bias and anti-racist education theory. Here’s my list of authors and educators I’m un-learning, learning and re-learning from this summer:
Audre Lorde. bell hooks. Lisa Delpit. Austin Channing Brown. Toni Morrison. Sue Monk Kidd. Ibram X. Kendi. Ijeoma Oulo. Jen Schneider. Monica Cadena. Rachel Elizabeth Cargle. Beverly Daniel Tatum.
The thread in all this work is agency.
What is it about my story that shocks me and makes me proud, then?
That I didn’t give up. That I kept working the problems as I was faced with them. That I summoned my will and my faith in God and in myself to bust my ass. And very important…that I asked for help when I needed it.
I don’t think I deserve anything I have received because of who I am,
conversely I think we all deserve to see the fruits of our labors.
I am at a turning point in my writing and I have been most of the time since Lucy was mostly done. It’s been a bit of a hermit time, going within and learning. Listening. Becoming more me, more human, and more aware of the needs of others.
Life doesn’t have to be all figured out in one year, or even in one decade. I face turning 50 in two months with pride. I made it this far. I have all the faith and guts to say that my 50s are going to be insanely badass.
Live your life well. Fight for others that need you to fight for them. Show empathy. Be angry. Use your voice to change. Give your voice to the silenced. Be truly who God made you to be. God didn’t make you to be silent when injustice was rampant around you. God made you to do the holy work of being a human.
I love you. Be well.