Proximity to Whiteness

The racism in my area is ramping up, and there are people in seats of power who, in my view, are leaning into their proximity to whiteness than protecting those who could use support. That’s all I can really say on that, though I could elaborate. I am actively choosing not to because I am a white woman. IYKYK

I frequent city council meetings on a semi-regular basis. If I’m not there in person or ‘live’, then I’m catching a recording. I can say with some confidence that people who don’t normally show up to city council meetings are showing up with some glee in how they can be outwardly racist under the guise of concerned citizen. A recall campaign has been launched against this young dark skin Black man who has decided to go against the status quo and do things his way. The ‘logo’ used on this campaign is a poor and purposeful knock-off of the Black Lives Matter logo. They spin hyperbole around the mistakes he’s made – as if they haven’t ever made their own mistakes – and repeat the same boring tirade every time they get up to speak. While he’s thriving, the white people are gnashing their teeth. The Elders of Yesteryear are clutching their pearls.

Don’t you know you’re supposed to act more white?

We tried to counsel you to be more white, yet you ignore us.

He does whatever it is he wants! What an ego! So immature! He doesn’t want to follow white people decorum where we get to tell him what to do and then he does it. You know, like the good old days.

*looks at camera*

To borrow from the youth…………….. Bruh.

He is taking everything in stride. The media wants to continue its attack to distract us from doing what we’ve been doing: calling out the cost of the jail. Not only has this attack on his character and worth distracted the focus of the people, but they are actively expanding police authority and criminalization so they’re able to fill that new jail.

It’s time to shift the focus. These boring losers will find any tiny thing to knit-pick about this person, but we got policy that needs changing, eliminating, or creating. I hope to see what kind of life-affirming changes we can make.

Let’s make a better way

“A Jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.”

I know a little about a lot. The internet has allowed me to dwell upon borders that I would never have access to otherwise. Twitter especially brought to my eyes immediate suffering happening worldwide. There was global solidarity — on one side and on the other — for atrocities that we could not look away from. It has allowed us to see the inner thoughts of people we normally wouldn’t interact with — for better or for worse. There have been so many rabbit holes I’ve gone down just to see people’s different perspectives, even those I don’t agree with.

This is how I’ve come to the conclusion about how culture carries a large role in how we interact in social settings. Macro- and micro-level culture interact with time and space to create the wide variety of ideologies each individual carries. What I mean by that is how we grew up, where we grew up, who our parents and caregivers are, how people treated us, what books we read, what movies we watched, our conscientious interactions with the world around us, plus more, all shape our internal values and sense of being. Visual queues and cultural interpretations of those visual queues (like skin color) guide what kind of human being we decide to be.

This isn’t exactly a new or profound thought. But because I’m able to better see the world as it is through the eyes and experiences of other people in real time, and because I now have the vocabulary to describe it, I am now able to have the most minute amount of patience with why people are the way they are. I give a lot more space than I would have prior to knowing all this shit.

It is so damn hard to be a decent human being. Our culture puts an extreme amount of pressure and expectation that you will treat other people like shit, and that’s just the way it is.

Our parents/siblings/extended family treat us like shit. That’s just the way it is.

Our friends will inevitably be shitty to us. Count yourself lucky if you get an apology. That’s just the way it is.

We have different values? Well that gives me the right to shit all over you. That’s just the way it is.

People are evil. There’s nothing we can do about it. That’s just the way it is.


You threaten my FREEDOM. Over my dead body. Or rather, yours. That’s just the way it is.

Does it have to be that way though?

History has shown human progress. Slow, very slow human progress, but progress nonetheless. I refuse to sit with “That’s just the way it is” when I now know a way to make this life something better.

Being a decent human being is hard. Calling out bigotry in a way that makes you heard….hahahaha. I don’t know how to do that yet. We, as a society, are too busy thinking in absolutes that we leave no room for conversation about nuance.

I’m always open to the difficult conversations that a lot of people simply do not want to have. I might know a little about a lot — or perhaps there are some topics that I know a lot about — but I’m not afraid to say “I don’t know” or “I’ll need to do more research.” One cool phrase I’ve learned is, “I don’t know enough about that topic to have an opinion.” I feel that a lot a lot a lot a lot a lot as I look learn the inner workings of government. What the fuck am I even looking at?

Anyway, I digress.

I feel like a storm is brewing, and I’m preparing myself for whatever is to come. I know a troll when I see one. I recognize a person who comes to converse in earnest. I’ll engage the latter and ignore the former. So say hi, and ask me anything.

Criticism vs Advice

There’s a phrase that’s been thrown around by people in positions of power that I find concerning. “Don’t take criticism from someone you wouldn’t go to for advice.”

While this idea may be valuable in interpersonal relationships, this cannot be applied to people who sit in elected positions. Whether or not someone voted for whoever holds a seat of power doesn’t negate their ability to give constructive criticism. Although this is only the first time I’ve heard it come from a city council member’s mouth, and the first time I heard it from the mouth of an anti-racist trainer (speaking to the same city council members), I vehemently disagree with this phrase’s use in the political arena.

Aren’t elected officials suppose to listen to the voices of all people — even those who did not vote for them? By making such a claim, officials can selectively choose who they listen to and who to ignore. They’ve also signaled to everyone who shows up to make public comment that they find only certain voices valuable. The phrase also gives the feeling of “if you’re not with me, you’re against me.” Why run for a position of power where it is absolutely guaranteed that not everyone will agree with you?

There is a reason why I personally have no political aspirations: being subject to everyone’s opinions underneath a spotlight sounds like a terrible way to spend time to me. Though, I do know that eventually I will become ‘known’, the only people I will find myself accountable to are those who I am in community with – my family, my friends, my neighbors, people I help. Should I care what elected officials think of me? I’m not out to make enemies, but I’m also not going to let anyone — and I do mean anyone — avoid accountability. As a result, enemies will be made. I must again mention that accountability doesn’t have to mean punishment. I would much rather see everyone learn how to take ownership, make amends, and actively do better than to face negative consequences. I know that’s a weird concept for a lot of people.

Anyway, while criticism is like advice in that a person gets to choose which parts are valuable to take/act on and which are not, trying to put oneself above criticism isn’t going to do anyone any good, especially if that person has been democratically elected into a seat of power.

Serendipitous Validation

The knowledge that floats in my head is disjointed and piecemeal. I can point to several books I have read to gain some of this knowledge, but most of it I gleaned through twitter threads, news articles, magazine articles, or some other short-form media. Because I have a wide variety of surface-level (and perhaps some just below) awareness on a lot of topics, I’ve come to reach conclusions that I have not yet read. So I was elated when I went to research my current hypothesis only to find scholarly writings that speak on this very topic.

I spoke to husbae about this phenomenon: There’s something magical about this round about way of coming to a conclusion and finding out that others have too. He asked, what would you name that feeling? He came up with validation. I said serendipitous, without really knowing the definition. Except I did. How extraordinarily serendipitous. I wish I could remember how I finally came to learn that term.

The writing of this essay is going very slowly. I’m distracted by ten thousand different things, but finding a few articles that cite other sources and confirming my idea is helping me find focus. Focus is super hard right now: I feel like I’m being pulled in so many directions. I don’t know how normal people cope. I think I can cope, once I learn how, but I don’t know how yet. I like the challenge though. A lot of important things are happening all at once, and I feel like I’m finally contributing in a meaningful way.

Trial and error. How important it is for us to fail so we are forced to see what kind of person we are. I give husbae credit for these thoughts: the measure of self doesn’t occur when everything is going right — the true test comes when you’re at your worst; that’s when you’ll see what kind of human being you are.

Things move slowly, but they’re moving. Progress is glacial. Gotta find a way to train for the marathon, and stop sprinting all the time. It’s not really how my brain works, but I’ll figure it out. Hopefully. Maybe. I feel like I’ve taken steps in the right direction. Keep it moving, so says Mariame Kaba.

Existing with Shitty Brain Chemistry

Brain chemistry is a funky thing. As inflation continues to rise and all the other bullshit capitalistic crap that goes along with it, it’s hard not to feel depressed. But the depression that comes from external forces is often easier, for me, to deal with than when my brain chemistry gets fucked up. I’m in the midst of a depressive episode as I write this, and it has everything to do with drinking some pinot noir, a red wine.

I’ve noticed in the past about how depressed I would get after drinking wine. I don’t know if it’s the brand, the type (pinot noir vs merlot vs cab sav, etc.), the fact that it’s a red, or that it’s wine. I know I’m not affected this way with all alcohol, but how my brain responded with this particular wine has had a devastating effect on my ability to regulate my emotions and sense of self-worth. Today I’m having to fight a brain that wants me to shut down, to cry, to hide away, that tells me that life is too hard and wants to give up. “How are you?” People ask, and depending on my relationship to them they either get “I’m well” (lie) or “I’m existing” (the truth). Existing has to be good enough for today.

I missed work yesterday due to my inability to get out of bed. I ‘noped’ my way out of most of the morning, and if I hadn’t had my kiddos at home, I probably would have stayed in bed all day long. When I was merely existing before, I didn’t have the weight of capitalism on me – meaning, I didn’t have a job I had to go to. I am forced to rally, for the sake of living and making a living, and put on the pleasant face for the rest of the world. I’m learning that I have to once again compartmentalize my feelings and emotions. And while the joy I share is not fake, because I have been smiling and laughing today, deep down inside I just want to crawl into a hole and sleep forever. “Sleep” and “forever” is not necessarily a euphemism for death, because eventually I will be ready again to interact with the world at large. I would prefer to be lethargic and unresponsive while I’m in this mental state. But the world keeps on turning, and so too must I turn with it.

Continuing the Topic of Credibility

When I am in my worst state – the kind of depression that makes one isolate in a spiral of self-hatred – I often forget about the people I consider friends. “Relationships are a two way street” is a line I remember clearly from a Japanese movie I adore. The depression prevented me from wanting to reach out to people – to build those connections necessary to ‘receive’ the kind of love I needed in those moments. Self-hate causes one to believe that everyone else feels exactly the same way you do about yourself, which makes it very hard to reach out to people. Luckily I am not currently in that funk, and I reached out to a friend to ask his opinion on my previous post about credibility.

To graciously quote my friend, he said, “Myself, I don’t tend to seriously question someone’s credibility unless or until I’m given a reason to do so.” These words stood out to me because I was working from a perspective that trust/credibility is built first, rather than something that is assumed until given a reason not to. Of course he is talking from his own perspective, but I tend to follow the same approach, for the most part. It’s hard not to be disenchanted by people when there are daily headlines of reporter’s finding elected officials lying about their credentials. Finding a balance between trust and suspicion is hard in these days of misinformation, disinformation, and straight up lying.

Often I ponder the purpose of having a blog. Aside from the purpose of writing, I don’t really have a particular audience or topic in mind. I had thought about trying to read all the articles I have open on my phone browser tabs and write some sort of reaction to it. The biggest struggle is finding the time. I am aware that I have an unfinished thought from a previous entry, and it would be nice to somehow to back and finish whatever it was I was going to say. Another reason why I struggle to write is that I continue to devalue my own voice. This goes back to the credibility thing: I feel like because I have no real credentials, field of study (in an official capacity), nor the experience to Speak On Certain Topics, I mute myself completely from even trying.

Non-fiction dominates my reading pile these days, and a majority of what I read come from scholars who cite their sources. Ideally I would choose one topic a week and spend the week doing the research necessary to feel Confident that I Know What I’m Talking About. That would require a schedule…and consistency. Skills I do not possess. Alas alas, I suppose the only thing I can do is get over myself and write what I want, research when I can, and let the reader know that if you really want to know more about whatever it is I’m talking about, here’s a list of resources. Bam bam bam. Wipe my hands and be done.

I’ll figure my shit out eventually. Maybe. I guess I’ve been saying that for coming on nine years. Ha! Eventually will come eventually.

How is Credibility decided?

Credibility occupies my mind these past few weeks. It started when someone I know posted a video where the speaker claimed to be an ‘expert’ and rattled off a fancy title to make him sound more credible. This “senior fellow” received his title at an “institute”, but when you look up the institute, you find out that the organization is a non-profit that specializes in research for policy change. In other words, they’re lobbyists. Due to this ‘expert’ making claims about the ‘fall of men’ that had everything to do with the attempts of women receiving equality, I found myself scoffing and readily dismissing this person’s expertise.

I love looking at definitions, so let’s look at the definition of credibility.

noun | cred·i·bil·i·ty ˌkre-də-ˈbi-lə-tē
1: the quality or power of inspiring belief
an account lacking in credibility
2: capacity for belief
Her account exceeds credibility.

Now let’s look at authority:

noun | au·thor·i·ty ə-ˈthȯr-ə-tē ȯ-, -ˈthär-
1 a: power to influence or command thought, opinion, or behavior
the president’s authority
b: freedom granted by one in authority : RIGHT
Who gave you the authority to do as you wish?
2 a: persons in command, specifically : GOVERNMENT
the local authorities of each state
b : a governmental agency or corporation to administer a revenue-producing public enterprise
the transit authority
the city’s housing authority
had excellent authority for believing the claim
b: convincing force
lent authority to the performance
4 a(1) : a citation (as from a book or file) used in defense or support
(2): the source from which the citation is drawn
He quoted extensively from the Bible, his sole authority.
b(1): a conclusive statement or set of statements (such as an official decision of a court)
(2): a decision taken as a precedent
C: an individual cited or appealed to as an expert
The prosecutor called the psychiatrist as an authority.

It’s important to point out that definitions are descriptive vs prescriptive; that is, dictionaries define words according to how the word is used or commonly understood (descriptive), rather than HOW IT MUST BE USED (prescriptive). Language changes all the time and so too will the definition of words. Having these definitions help me understand what it is that I’m trying to argue, or wrap my head around, etc.

My personal crusade involves an attempt to shift cultural attitudes towards police and prisons to eliminate the need for such institutions. I came upon this ideology through reading materials from a variety of what I consider to be credible sources – academics, scholars, journalists, historical figures. Through their analysis and citing of sources, and through my own understanding of what it means to be human, I concluded that the people I chose to listen to are not only credible but an authority on the subject. Most of the people I learned from have doctorates degrees or in the process of getting one.

And then there’s me: a self-described nobody. I have an undergraduate degree in Japanese language that is relatively useless. I hold no special titles. I’ve done little in the way of volunteer work. What little credibility I did have I squandered and am now trying to rebuild from the ground up. And yet I attend city council meetings and speak with an authority that I know I don’t truly have.

Why listen to me? Because I read non-fiction books? Because I engage with peer-reviewed academic literature? That perhaps one of these days I’ll go into even more debt to return to school to earn another degree that may lead to some sort of credibility and authority? I have said, and will continue to say, that I am not the one anyone should be listening to. I try my best – with fluctuating results – to amplify those who do have more credibility and authority than me. That is the best I can do at the moment. Yet I know I shouldn’t be so ready to dismiss myself just because I don’t have the white supremacist colonial ideal of holding a position of authority or earning a higher ed degree to have credibility. However, this is the reality and word I live in; this is how most people operate.

So what do I do? What should I do? I suppose we all got to start somewhere, and if right now I use my little space on the internet to analyze culture, books, scholarly work, etc., it may lead to something more grand.

My biggest question – being the little peon I feel that I am in this big huge world – is how and why do I try to gain credibility while at the same time feeling like I get to readily dismiss those who also do not have it. Mr. Senior Fellow at blahblah Institute claims to be credible expert, and yet I, a person who holds no titles, feel like I somehow have enough critical thinking skills to dismantle this person’s claims. I think about the people who hold opposing views, whose reality is different from mine, who use their power/authority/credibility to dehumanize entire groups of people who look/act differently from them. Am I “better” than them for having more compassion, more willingness to look past transgressions, in order to see people as full human beings? While I try to build a world that eliminates hierarchy, am I not engaging in the same type of building of hierarchy? “I am more credible than you! Therefore the words that come out of my mouth holds more weight than yours.” Sounds like hierarchy to me.

Is this all just another existential crisis? Of course it is. This is where I dwell. Until I somehow gain confidence and/or authority and/or credibility in this realm of building new worlds in order to destroy harmful institutions, I will continue to ponder my place in this grand ol’ universe.

Mind Dump: Too Many Books

Because I want to build my writing habit, and because I am a low energy person who lacks the ability to manage time, I will inevitably post stream-of-consciousness, mostly unedited posts. I have a weird habit of posting first, then rereading it and making revisions from the published page. It’s weird. I’m weird. It’s not the worse thing, but certainly not becoming of The Professional Writer.

I spent part of my commute listening to more Toni Morrison. Anyone who has engaged her work knows she is the master of the craft. Listening to her nonfiction essays is delicious food brain for me. I’m eager to put those words into my brain via my eyeballs so that what she says sticks. She inspires me to write more, to be reflective, to try to somehow muster a minuscule amount of eloquence that she harbors in her writing.

I’m interested in too many books right now, and I’m making zero progress on reading any of them. Aside from the audiobook, I can’t seem to choose a story to focus my energy on. So many half-read books. So many unread books. There are books I started years ago that I feel I will have to start from the beginning to reorient myself to the writer and their topic. Two new books arrived today, and of course I started to read one of them. Will I continue reading it? No idea. The current trend is that I’ll get about halfway through it before I start another book. Maybe my challenge for February is to finish 2 books. FINISH. Even if it is one of the books I have in a half-state of read, like The Color Purple by Alice Walker. Or maybe East of Eden by John Steinbeck. Maybe I’ll keep on my Toni Morrison kick and finish listening to SLASH reading The Source of Self Regard and then doing the same for Beloved. I have a Zora Neale Hurston book sitting on my desk at work.

The only thing I’m consistent about is inconsistency. I feel the need to remind myself that. I sagely nod at the wise reminder.

Maybe later (or tomorrow) when I get the energy, I’ll write about my new found love of capybaras. No matter what I write from here on out, somehow, someway, I will mention capybaras. And I will draw a capybara. And I will make it my site logo. Yes. This will be done.

But now I am exhausted and shall sleep. Good night.

Adding more Kindness to the World

When I was a teenager, I loved to build my own websites and frequently blog about my life. My blog and my website were separate entities, but sometimes I did mix the two together without any real lasting longevity. I recently registered a new domain name — and I continue to keep the one I’ve had since 2002 — but I really am not sure what it is I want to do with it. Do I have the time or desire to build something new, or should I just have it direct to a place like this blog (or a new blog?????) since web hosting is an expensive up-front investment? I think I know the answer.

The answer: I upgraded to a premium feature of wordpress and I’ll be directing my domain here. Just make it easy until I get some time to actually do more with it.

This year I have the desire to change everything about my life. I know it’ll be a slow process, and that I will inevitably fall back on old habits. I am easily distracted by a variety of things in my life, but one thing I think I must do is write more often. I say this every time I blog. “I need to write more.” YES OK LET’S DO IT.

Since I’ve started working, I’ve been more social than I have been over the last nine-ish years. I’m continually learning about myself, and one of the things I’m fairly proud of is my ability to be kind. Opening one self to chat with whoever – even if they’re a bit awkward – really does make a difference in how people respond. One of the downsides of being very friendly is that some people will mistake friendliness with flirtations or as an advancement for wanting to have a romantic relationship. I’ve had to tell at least one person, and I doubt this will be the last time I’ll have to do this, that I’m just nice to everyone.

I recently read the book “All About Love” by bell hooks, and it has given me new things to consider while also recognizing where I’m already doing a pretty decent job in following what hooks calls a “love ethic.” When I speak of love, my definition of love is different from most people’s understanding. We’re socialized into believing that “love” only applies on a romantic level or a familial level. “Love” between strangers or acquaintances isn’t really a topic that is discussed on a conscious level, and for me that kind of ‘love’ really just comes down to kindness, understanding, and a willingness to listen. Affirming people’s struggles through this shitty ass life helps people feel seen and heard.

I post unedited stream-of-consciousness videos to youtube where I use my commuting time to and from work to philosophize about the world based on the things I’ve learned from a multitude of marginalized peoples. I’ll be working on a series of videos as well as written posts that detail how language and cultural values shape our worldview in ways that are detrimental to human progress and happiness/contentment. Synthesizing the information I’ve absorbed through my scholarship is something I really look forward to doing, but honestly so many other people have already written books, made podcasts, given talks, etc etc. on this. I had used the idea that “this has already been discussed” as a way to silence myself, but I’m trying to break free of that because MORE people need to be talking about this considering how obnoxiously loud the hard right is with their dehumanization.

I don’t suspect my blog will get much in the way of traffic, but that’s besides the point. One more place for people to get ideas or understanding that lead toward kindness should always be offered.

Interacting with other people has been very lovely for me in the way that I’m able to really see the progress I’ve made from who I was in and prior to 2017 to who I am now. I’m quite proud. But there’s always more to learn, always more work to be done, and so I shall continue to do my best.

America the Shameful

Nearly 8 billion people live on this planet. It’s quite foolish to think that people think the same way. No two people will completely agree on everything. And while some people are open to new ideas and allowing their minds to change when presented with new information, a major majority of people are pretty set in their ideology.

It seems very likely that Roe vs Wade will be overturned by the Supreme Court according to a leaked memo to Politico. Naturally people are freaking out and super fucking pissed — well, the people I follow on twitter anyway. Of course there’s the other side that is celebrating and feeling as if their world-view is finally coming into fruition.

It’s really fucking odd to me how obsessed some people are about taking way other people’s autonomy. This dehumanization of particular groups of people for what…? Power and greed? Like. I think about how hard people fight for pro-life yet they have zero clue or zero inkling that somewhere close or far away, someone had an abortion, and that abortion affected pro-lifer’s life in zero ways.

It makes zero sense to me how tightly conservatives want to control the lives of strangers. And I know that to them, my ideology makes zero sense to them. The polarization of world view, cronstructed in pockets carefully crafted by red-line housing, has created people who can’t relate to other people because they’re never around other people who don’t think or act like them.

And then there are the democrats, who are pretty much conservatives performing as for-the-people democrats. All talk, no action, because they have the same sort of ideology as conservatives but know how to play the game to appeal to the other side.

The rich continue to get richer, the poor continue to suffer. It’s maddening, sickening, infuriating, and nauseating. They bleed every last drop of blood from us as flames lick the world.

As Marime Kaba says, “Let this radicalize you rather than lead you to despair.”