My hugs are mentally ill. Super White Jesus makes it look so natural. Sort of. As soon as I saw my son’s friend’s dad, my arms began to rise like a hungry zombie, “We are going to hug you, Semi-familiar-Dude-in-the-grocery-store!”, and my brain was like, “WHAT IS HAPPENING?!”. So my arms were indicating they wanted a hug but my face was implying that a hug was a really bad idea. That poor guy. I’m just so confusing, with my arms that say “hug” and my face that says “stab”. But it gets worse! Because. My mouth was going non-stop during this terrible, terrible interaction.
Several years ago, a friend was relating a conversation that she once had with a therapist. My friend had recently gone through a messy break-up, one that left her devastated. As she was speaking with her therapist, she let her mind spiral downward: she expressed her thoughts that perhaps she was fatally flawed, that maybe she was undeserving of affection and true connection. Exhausted, she finally voiced her deepest fear: that perhaps she would never, ever be truly loved ever again. As she waited for the therapist’s response, the therapist simply smiled gently. “You understand, of course,” said the therapist, “that you have evidence to suggest otherwise.”
The oppression “of” women is a human issue. It is not for women to fix. It is not for men to fix. It is for men and women to fix together. However, I suspect men will have to listen a lot before they will be able to offer much to the conversations. One of the big problems about this discussion is that it does not have the complete audience. Men, this is our fault. Until the oppression of women has equal focus in spaces historically led by men as it does in those led by women it will take a very, very long struggle to bring about the change needed. We do not have time for a very, very long struggle.
You may be fat. You may have hair that curls up at the ends. You may even have acne. But your face is everywhere. Your people are everywhere. What in your heart recoils when you see Black Girls Rock? What bone in your body sees empowerment for black girls and thinks “that’s not fair”? Where is your bitterness rooted? What do you think has been taken from you when women of color are uplifted?
We do this, you know. We have great plans, grand ideas of mothering and care-taking and preparing a child for life, and at the end of many days we just feel like we’ve left it in pieces. What’s here for them to take is not near enough, we say. And we cry because we wish we had done it better. We wish our fingers always zipped and buttoned the completed gown instead of staring at the remainders of our dreams for them.
I like satire as much as the next person. I write a lot of satirical stuff myself. And you know what? Satire works best when you are flipping the script on the oppressor, on the system. When you are calling attention to the ways that the system is jacked by amplifying the absurdity of that system. Not caricaturing and otherwise disrespecting the people who are oppressed by that system.
The world is certainly watching. But this doesn’t mean we hide our dirty laundry, slap on mechanical smiles, and gloss over all the injustices and abuses, conflicts and disagreements, diversity and denominationalism present within the Church; it means we expose them. It means we talk about them boldly and with integrity, with passion and with love. I suspect that talking about our differences is better for our witness than suppressing them, and I’m sure that exposing corruption and abuse is better for our witness than hiding them. And when it comes to injustice, a far more important question to me than “What will the world think if they see us disagreeing?” is “What will the world think if they don’t?”
The media have covered these complaints with gusto, as if the cancelations are a genuine crisis and indication of a failure of Obama’s health care law. The ACA was designed specifically to prevent insurance companies from peddling lousy insurance plans and to force these firms to replace these subpar products with affordable plans providing better and effective coverage. The plans being canceled are ending because they offered insufficient coverage—and only a few years ago both Rs and Ds were upset about these kinds of plans. But there’s been collective amnesia about the shoddy plans that GOPers have happily exploited in recent days. Perhaps Obama should have said, “Those of you who obtain insurance on the individual market can keep your plans unless it’s the sort of rip-off plan the ACA will forbid. Otherwise, you will be offered new options that actually give you decent coverage at a decent price.”
My love for deep breathing and balancing should make me upset about Lululemon’s practices but it doesn’t. It’s a company that has long perpetuated the stereotype that yoga is only for the pretty, primped and svelte blonde woman. A woman with perfectly toned arms thanks to her perfect chatarangas. Her yoga outfits are put together and there is nary a drop of sweat as she moves through a warrior series. She also wears $98 pants because it’s imperative for those behind her to know just how great her ass is thanks to all of that yoga. All of this *waves hand* with Lululemon is the antithesis of what yoga is about. It’s their selling of the perfect lifestyle that turns so many women off of yoga because they are not reflected in ad campaigns and window designs. In fact I am looking at their website right now and I see nary a woman of color whose weight goes straight to her mid-section and while frustrating that not all women are represented I have gotten to a place where I think that’s OK. I am not for Lululemon and Lululemon is not for me. They can go on with their faux-yogi branding that says only certain (pretty, skinny) women can do yoga and the rest of us with the thighs and the large chest cannot. To which I say go for it.
I wouldn’t mind Kanye’s superficial, faux-deep, shallow statements so much if he didn’t fashion himself to be some sort of person standing up against racism. After all, he’s the one who said in a New York Times profile, “I am in the lineage of Gil Scott-Heron, great activist-type artists. But I’m also in the lineage of a Miles Davis – you know, that liked nice things also.” Would Gil Scott-Heron use lynching imagery and “Strange Fruit” to make a song about a side chick getting an abortion? Would he market an overpriced T-shirt bearing the image of the Confederate flag, a symbol of racism and exploitation of Black men, women, and children? Would anyone really that committed to the cause of advancing Black people downplay the influence of the first Black First Lady to boost up his white fiancé who hasn’t given anything to the world besides a modern take on Betty Boop? His Jekyll and Hyde act can be amusing at times, but ultimately it’s worn thin.
The Born Friends Family Portrait — a unique friendship brought together by Skype (by skype)