Every Tuesday morning, I kiss my kids good-bye, I gather my computer, and I drive to my favorite local cafe. I order my coffee and find a seat by itself. Then I labor with words for several hours, pushing my mind to the edge of its skill. Whenever the calendar says it’s Tuesday I do this, whether or not I feel inspired. It is my weekly discipline, a rhythm I have come to treasure.
I have goals for my home. I want it to be cozy and cheerful for my family, and amiable and restful for guests. I love color, art, and uncluttered design. The challenge is that I do not have money to spend on decor or energy for DIY projects.
Here’s what I do have: a continuous stream of children’s art, ample hand-me-down furniture, lots of photos, and many second-hand stores nearby. These supplies have proven more than sufficient.
Parenting is about teaching. Teaching about life, teaching to ride a bike, teaching character, teaching math. Instead of coming up with new curriculum everyday, I rely on trusty phrases I can pull out easily. There is power in repeated words. Here are a few we use at our house:
Are you being kind? Rather than exhorting our kids to be nice, we have always used the word kind. It’s a much richer word. One of my greatest hopes for my kids is that they turn out to be deeply kind. The word kind speaks of compassion, generosity, attention to others; it involves action. I want to call my children to all that kindness implies. Continue reading “Things I Tell My Kids, part 2”→
I have a theory that most people’s spiritual lives are like fabric–with color patterns and definite textures. If you stand back, the feel and look of the fabric is clear. Mine is like a bold, floral chintz.
Recently, this cartoon showed up in my Facebook feed:
This is a popular axiom, this idea that the 44% of Americans who identify as pro-life care little about life after birth. So, let me ask: is it true that pro-life supporters are heartless prudes who are concerned only with fetuses but not with the lives of children in poverty, struggling single mothers, and other vulnerable members of society?
The term white privilege seems to be popping up everywhere these days — online, in the media, and in college classrooms. In the midst of all this talk, though, I have noticed that the term is frequently misunderstood, particularly by people who find it offensive. Many, many times, I have heard rebuttals of the idea of white privilege that go something like this,
“Just because I am white does not mean I am wealthy. I came from a poor family, and I have worked hard to get where I am today. It makes me angry when people assume that all white people have money and that life has been easy for us.”
I understand how a white person raised in poverty or in the working class would be annoyed by assumptions that they were raised with money and that life has been easy for them. Here’s the thing, though – that is not what white privilege means. Not at all. Continue reading “Let’s talk about white privilege”→
I’m sure you saw the news a few weeks ago of a bus full of University of Oklahoma fraternity students who were caught on video chanting the following about their fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon:
There will never be a n*** SAE!
You can hang ‘em from a tree, but they’ll never sign with me!
There will never be a n*** SAE!
The uproar was swift and the consequences thorough: the fraternity shut down, all members required to move out within 24 hours, and the two young men shown leading the chant promptly expelled from the university. One thing was clear from this episode: we no longer tolerate blatantly racist words in our country. Much has changed since the 1960s and the preceding decades (centuries).
From the American view of things, my family should be very concerned with fairness. Not only do I have three daughters who are close in age, but two of them are identical twins. Many would assume that I should strive greatly to pursue perfectly fair treatment for my kids at all times.
I don’t. In fact, when one of my kids whines, “It’s not fair,” my standard response is “I’m not interested in fairness.” Why?
In the past several weeks, there has been a ton of great writing on the black experience in our country and on the history of widespread violence against blacks that continues up to this very moment. I have also seen a bit of commentary and writing that desires to defend law enforcement and describe the very difficult job police have in protecting the public. In my Facebook feed and in the comments on many articles I’ve read, I have seen numerous white people, like myself, discussing, arguing, and trying to persuade each other of what is true and what is just. I am glad this conversation is taking place, especially among white Americans.
I believe both sides are saying true things. Along with many others, I believe that black men are treated differently in our society, that they are subjected to questioning and suspicion at much, much higher rates than their white and Asian peers and that very often when they have been killed without cause, justice is never served. I also agree that police officers have very challenging jobs, and that the rest of us cannot quite understand how tricky it is to protect the public and make split second decisions in what feel like dangerous situations. Further, I agree that there is cause to look at each case individually, as we cannot determine what is just without an understanding of the details.
In the midst of all this writing and talking, there is one simple fact that I think needs to be stated even more plainly: police officers are simply reflecting our entire society’s ingrained prejudices. In them, the assumptions and fears we hold societally about black men are simply put on display in the most vivid (and tragic) way possible.Continue reading “Something That Needs To Be Said About Ferguson”→