In Challenging Bigotry

What do you do when you challenge someone’s bigotry, and they choose to double down?

In my studies, the responsibility of cultural learning has come to the forefront of my mind. Living in America means living in white supremacist, patriarchal, etc etc. culture. A lot of what we learn is learned subconsciously, and each of us respond to this subconscious learning differently. For myself, dominant culture didn’t make sense. I’ve always bristled at it. Political education gave me the vocabulary to explain why. It simply boils down to dehumanization. I don’t dig on it, I’m not for it, and I have made it my active fight.

I tend to not like to go into detail about the things I do on the anti-racist side. I’ve learned to just shut up and do the work the best I can, and my best is good enough. Part of why I don’t talk about it is because I feel like I’m not doing enough. Yet on the other side, there is plenty that I do do, and it’s quite frowned upon to speak on it, especially as a white woman. I am actively conscientious of what I put out on social media, and I am also actively conscientious about who I speak with about it. Luckily I have the perfect person to speak to about it, and so I really don’t feel as squirrelly anymore.

Without getting too deep into the details, I’ll summarize my current existential crisis: my absolute specialty.

Here are a few creeds I hold close to my heart:

1. When it comes to how I view other people: do whatever the fuck you want as long as you’re not hurting yourself, people, animals, or the environment.*

2. I want to move through life lessening suffering.

3. I will always call out bigotry.

Because of the book I read recently, I also want to chose to live by what bell hooks calls a “love ethic.” I feel it highly necessary to give the definition of love hooks uses throughout her book:

Love: The will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth. ~M Scott Peck

Love’s ingredients: care, affection, recognition, respect, commitment, and trust — as well as honest and open communication. ~bell hooks

Which now leads to my current dilemma:

I recently called out someone’s bigotry. It’s been an interesting journey to experience this person through watching videos of their a stream-of-consciousness emotional vomiting. I see them once a week, for perhaps a few minutes and up to thirty minutes at a time. After I initially called out the bigotry in a way that was both regretful and, I feel, absolutely necessary for THIS PERSON, the encounters have been mildly awkward.

I’ve seen enough instances of bigotry being called out and people becoming defensive and doubling down. This is not news to me. This is quite the normal path we all choose to take the first time we’re called out on our shit. In our desperate need to feel humanized again, we allow anger to take over, because isn’t that what we’re supposed to feel when our personhood is challenged? That’s what we’ve been taught, subconsciously, through cultural values and norms.

I feel like I’ve been patient waiting for this person to come around. In some ways they have (though they probably doesn’t know it yet, but I’ve heard them curse capitalism when they didn’t have the words for it before), and in many ways they are struggling on what to do, so they do what is most comfortable to them — be extra bigot-y.

It has come to a point where I have decided that the effort on my part is wasted.

My struggle is that I am not sure what I will do when it comes time to let this person know that I am not going to converse with them anymore. This person likes to ask why, and I’m sure they will. Looking at my creeds and looking at the definition of love, should I not lean into my values when I speak to this person? Which is to say, will I say it nicely, or will I once again call out his bigotry and make him feel like shit?

Part of me, a large part of me, thinks that if someone can’t respect the first creed, then they should receive the same disrespect. But how are we to lead people to love if not by being loving? Is being direct showing love? Remember the definition above — I ain’t talking about romantic love. I’m talking about the kind of love you show a person who is very lost and needs help getting back on track.

Who am I to say what the track is? Well, again, creed 1 is the track. And I feel like it isn’t that hard to do. Well, it takes a lot of learning and unlearning to be able to stop hurting people. I suppose what isn’t hard, for me, is the desire to do it. The actual doing is the hard part. Knowing that this person doesn’t want to, or doesn’t see the value of, following creed #1, what do I owe this person in return?

If I want to believe that all people have the potential for spiritual growth — and that is, to me, learning how to treat other people as the human beings they are (spiritual growth is much more than that but this is a good basis to start with) — then I must consider how to best treat a person who is riding stormy waters. Do they want to get out? I thought this person did. Is it my responsibility to get them out? I guess not. But I tried anyway. It didn’t work. The hopeful side of me wants me to add “yet” to the previous sentence.

It hasn’t worked… yet.

But I’m done trying.

I’ll continue pondering on this until I see this person again because even though this entry gave me some clarity, I’m still unsure of what kind of person I want to be.

*(Property doesn’t count as environment.)

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.

I see you

There has been an uptick in traffic to my blog. The reason isn’t a mystery. You read something I wrote on twitter, didn’t understand the context or misread the statement, and decided to find out more of what kind of person I am. I’m sure you’re not unsatisfied in your perceptions.

Here’s the thing: I could write a post clarifying my statements, defending myself, adding further context. But would you read it in good faith? With an open mind for learning? Are you actually trying to get to the bottom of what exactly it is I was trying to say? The answer isn’t a mystery.

I won’t waste my time with that. But I do want to take the time to notice you. I see you. Your boredom, you’re hatred. You’re reason for feeling righteous. Your reality and my reality don’t align. We have different perceptions. We have different values. We’re different.

Here’s another difference: I don’t go out of my way to be hateful and harmful to other people. You can think what you want about my viral tweet, I’ve already heard it from multiple people who think like you. The truth is I don’t spend my time hating people. Except nazis. And there have been plenty of those letting me know their opinions of me. Y’all can go fuck yourselves.

So go ahead, look around. Absorb some random tidbits about person you don’t know but feel righteous fury for in this moment. You’ll forget it in a couple weeks when you’ve moved on to another target. Same as it ever was.

Beyond the Basics

Today I attended a one-day conference for teachers called Teaching Equity conference. I wanted to see how the facilitators would frame the discussion, and I somehow got the expectation that I might learn something new.

The day was broken into six parts – breakfast/opening, a quick discussion about bringing ethnic studies into schools, session one, lunch, session two, closing. The workshop I attended filled both sessions, called “Culturally responsive classroom interactions.” I thought to myself, hey, this is exactly the kind of class I would want to teach once I’m done with my masters degree. Both hubs and I attended.

The opening was pretty amazing. A Native man sang a song of thanks in his native language while beating on a drum. The school’s Step Team did a performance, a black teenage girl read an essay she had written, and three black teenage girls who are officers of the school’s Black Alliance club read a speech they had written about being Black women. They all spoke their truth so well, and as I glanced around the room, I could see some white women getting in their feelings.

The morning session started off talking about implicit biases, different kinds of racism, different kinds of microaggressions. The one thing I did learn is about the subcategories of microaggressions – I added some new vocabulary to be able to explain it more deeply. The afternoon session talked a little bit more about student to student and teacher to student interactions. The teachers were asked to think about their relationship with their students and to their students’ families. I wasn’t able to participate much in this session since I am not a teacher, but it was interesting to see how others talked about it. These are things that hubs and I talk about fairly regularly, so we were already thinking about this sort of stuff before attending this conference.

The place where I’m at personally in my studies is beyond this point. These sessions were a surface-level gloss over of concepts I already knew. I was hoping they would dig deeper, but there’s only so much you can do in three hours. It is then I realized that these free workshops are not going to be offering me anything new I don’t already know. I’m ready for advance courses. The hard courses. The ones that will dig so deep that you can’t help but squirm with discomfort.

While I’m happy about this – that I, all by myself, have positioned myself to learn all these things on my own thanks to (library) books and Twitter and articles written by race scholars – I also find myself mildly frustrated that these things aren’t talked about beyond the surface. Monday of this week I went to an event called “Confronting Antisemitism and Intolerance.” It gave me some new information to think about as far as the history of antisemitism, but there wasn’t much I learned there beyond that.

I know I’m no expert, and I’m almost afraid to call myself intermediate. But I’m definitely beyond these beginning surface level workshops that are being offered around the sound. I want deeper conversations. I want the harder stuff. I want to be challenged and talk to other people about the complexity of these systems and how to go about dismantling them. I want the activism to pull in people who want to do more. And I’m trying. I need to reach out to a woman again who agreed to let me do some volunteer work. I really want to get this ball rolling.

I think the session I attended today was useful to people just starting to think about racial justice in schools, and it was well facilitated. I enjoyed the teachers who taught it, what they said and how they talked about their own dealings with biases. But I’m ready for more. Give it to me.

More Writing, More Writing!

Once again I am going to make my new year’s resolution be writing everyday. I obviously have failed years prior, though I think it was 2011 I got pretty far into the year before I stopped. This time, however, I’m not going to wait until January 1st. I’m starting now. Technically earlier today because I did some writing in the morning.

I’m always wishing that I had something interesting or clever to say on twitter. I think if I spend more time writing and formulating my ideas, I can actually have those intellectual tweets. Mostly I want to put out content that informs or makes people think. Engagement is nice too, I suppose. Right now, though, I’m putting out other people’s ideas. I feel so dumb that I don’t have my own original ideas. Not that my ideas need to be completely original. I just don’t want to be a parrot. I parrot a lot right now. Meh meh meh.

As always, because this is my process, I need to come up with a LIST (shocking, I know) of things to possibly write about. I’ve had some ideas like writing about how children’s cartoons continue to perpetuate racial biases/stereotypes. This will take some time since I need to do some research as well. But that’s fine, that’s exactly how ‘original’ ideas are put out there.

Responding to articles?

I live in this weird little bubble and I want so desperately to have something to say about the world when I don’t even really interact with it. That’s why I’m failing.

The books I’m reading are interesting. I could do a book review? A list of source material to read from said books? I dunno.

A lot of this comes down to time I don’t really have, or I do have it but I don’t use it wisely. By time night comes, I am ready to be done with everything so I inebriate and spend most of my evenings not sober. Hard to put out good work when you’re not sober.

Daily ramblings, weekly essays?

I also had a comic that I started and quickly abandoned. It takes a lot of work. But I have an instagram account that for some reason a lot of Hubs’ students follow. I want to put info on there… grammar, linguistics, sociology things. Anti-racism learning. Em-dash the rabbit, informing the peoples on a variety of topics. Somehow. Hm.

I don’t want to start getting into too many projects, because every single time I do that, I fail at all of them.

I know that I am capable of building habits. I haven’t really proven that I can without extrinsic motivators. Writing has always been something to help me clear my mind and get my thoughts in order. I haven’t done it for so long that I can tell my ability to write a cohesive piece is superbly rusty. Maybe I should get a writing buddy to keep myself accountable. Or give myself homework assignments.

As I look over the list of categories I have created for this site, I see many possibilities that I forgot I had. Guess I’ll start there then.

Time to end this ramble.

Time Management

Something I really struggle with is time management. Now that I have my materials gathered, textbooks out, apps installed, practice tests ready to go.

So now what?

This post will mostly be me organizing my ideas on how to come up with a schedule for myself.

I have four textbooks I want to read. Three will be review, one will be new.

An Introduction to Language, 9th edition – Fromkin, Rodman, Hyams
An Introduction to Sociolinguistics – 3rd edition – Holmes
Rhethorical Grammar – 6th edition – Kolln, Gray*

Language Files: Materials for an Introduction to Language and Linguistics –  11th Edition – Mihalicek, Wilson

I have a GRE app on my phone which I think will do well to help me, but I might want to get a book as well. For now I’ll just focus on the app and maybe look around on the internet and see what resources I can find.

GRE study time
Textbook  reading

After looking up some info about GRE studying, it says I could be ready in a maximum of 12 weeks? I suppose if I didn’t have children I could do that. Maybe I can take the GRE in October to see how I do. That would give me time to retake it if I need to.

I just looked at the GRE site again and noticed there are a lot of available dates and times for the computer adapted test. Looks like I can pretty much take it at any time I feel that I’m ready. Which is good. Gotta figure out how I’m going to get an extra $200 though. Heh.

That helps to know though.

Man I am so tired, it’s hard to think.

Ok, moving on… stream of consciousness post going on here.

I need to work on building my vocabulary. Reading will be the best for that. Flash cards suck because words work best in context. The New York Times and the New Yorker have been helping me find new cool crazy words. I’m also reading the unabridged version of Pride and Prejudice, which has good diction as well. Maybe I can use a white board to put up words in context with their definitions. Cram it into my brain and erase when I feel confident that I know it through and through.

I read that using “algebra/geometry for dummies” book would be beneficial in getting reacquainted with math needed for the quantitative section.


I wonder if I could get this all done to be enrolled next year. I don’t know if I could with the kids being as young as they are. Maybe waiting an extra year would be beneficial cuz I can do self-study and research to help build my portfolio to get into the program. And if my GRE score isn’t to a high enough standard for me, I can retake it.

So much to think about, but I’m feeling cautiously confident.


*I took a class from Loretta Gray, and she is the most kind, down to earth person ever. She’s great. She pretty much let me take her class as an independent study course.