A Woman, Thinking

Quit it, People are Dying

Poppy Lochridge

Today's post is coming late, and I am declaring that late is Just the Right Time.

It's also a pretty random scattering of barely edited thoughts - a woman, thinking in real-time, as it were.


 

In the wake of still more racially motivated shootings, a new pattern has arisen.

It’s a pattern of people calling for action. Not just legislative action, not just gun control or police oversight, but stringent demands that we White people step up and ….. What?

One person I follow on Facebook reacts with disgust to the usual Facebook fare of vacation photos and life events. “Quit it,” she says. “People are dying out here.”

Another calls for an end to White silence. Memes observing that the ability to struggle with grief, to put action on pause until the deep feelings have passed is part of White privilege. I expect they are probably right.

And yet. And yet.

All the blame and shame in the world cannot motivate people to take a stand for the value of Black American lives. How do we find a way to come together to defend our brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors without calling each other’s enoughness into question?

Truth is, yes, our country was built on racism. Yes, we have some very racist institutions. Yes, White privilege exists - and it includes the ability to look away for our own comfort. Yes, it is true that Black Lives SHOULD Matter - and that our embedded cultural racist attitudes are killing Black men, women, and children.

It is also true that the steps each of us must take to acknowledge and use our White privilege are individual. Truth is also that the discomfort of acknowledging truths is not always public. It is done in community, sharing stories with people we trust, before it is done wider and more publicly.

Brené Brown once said that empathy is like jumping down into someone else’s darkness, and we don’t do it unless we can get ourselves back out again, because otherwise, we’re both stuck in the pit and can’t get out. I believe that as much as we must respond and affirm the value of Black lives, we must also do so responsibly, with awareness of how much we can each give before we are mired in darkness from which we cannot break free.

At a previous phase in my life, I worked in West Philadelphia, an area with a large Black population. I accepted, as a client in the nonprofit in which I worked, a man in the middle of his life. This man was short, dark-skinned, bearded, whose sole income was SSI payments for a disability which he did not disclose. He spoke frequently of his fear that his neighbors were spying on him, of his concern that someone was waiting to break into his apartment while he was gone to steal what little money he had, of larger conspiracy theories involving the government and people loitering outside. He made me nervous, and yet I persisted in trying to help him, hiding the discomfort. I thought, at the time, that he made me uncomfortable because he was Black and dark-skinned, and I was White and young. I thought, at the time, that my discomfort was good, was burning my ignorance of White privilege out of me. It wasn’t until my colleagues spoke up about their discomfort and the large knife he brought into the office that I realized - my discomfort wasn’t about the color of his skin, it was simply that he made people uncomfortable.

I don’t know what this story says about me. I don’t know why I feel it’s worth sharing, unless it’s to say that I’ve been pushing my boundaries around race for a lot longer than police shootings have been in the news. I know I’m not perfect - I can tell by the ways I still feel uncomfortable, and while spending my day off painting pretty pictures instead of marching by myself in the streets might not convince some, I know that I’ve also been wrestling with hard ideas and hard words and discomfort. I don’t need a good citizen cookie, nor is it anyone’s job to give me one. It is, simply, my job to try and be the best I can be, on my own schedule and in my own way, and to remember that the people pointing fingers might be in their arena, but they’re not in mine.

How to play along

Because safety is a core value for me, I am asking that comments in this space avoid all the ugly things: shame, blame, judgement. I am asking that disagreement and discussion be polite, respectful, generous, and open to vulnerability.

Because community is healthy behavior, I welcome you to comment, to share your thoughts and responses and discuss this with empathy with me and with each other.

Scooby WHO, where are you?

Wishing on a StarPoppy Lochridge

It's Sunday and this is our 6th week of wishes - we skipped week 5, if you were counting and confused.

L.W.W

My husband’s new puppy is finally…. A rumor, and not just a wish. A lot of uncertainty about this along with the relief, and possibly some gratitude when it becomes more than a rumor.

 

All of my wishes for a Reminder of Ease, Solitude, and Thinking came out as a week off from writing these posts. I’m not sorry.

 

Something did, in fact, happen that created a safe place for me to process all the grief, and that created some room to come to terms with some truths about authority and friendship and the Arena. A breath of gratitude that this happened, and a second breath for awe around growth.

 

 

What do I want?

This week, I am excited about a new project, one that I’ve scheduled time for this summer. It’s a ripe, juicy berry of a thing, and it poses a paradox: in order to protect this ripe, juicy excitement, I absolutely cannot, must not, shield it too closely. When I get in too close, too protective, my clumsy feet step on it, and squash it. The only way to protect this tiny sweet thing is by letting it grow - and that’s so hard. So there’s my big want - I want my tiny sweet, juicy berry of excitement about a new project to be allowed to grow. I want to give myself permission to be excited.

 

Superpowers

The last time I called on this superpower, the words left my fingers and zoomed off into the ether. So I’m asking a second time: this week, I am calling in the superpower of Finding My Alter-Ego, code-named Scooby WHO. This is a search for the best version of me to handle the current events - what might she be like?

 

How to play along

Because safety is a core value for me, I am asking that comments in this space avoid all the ugly things: shame, blame, judgement. I am asking that disagreement and discussion be polite, respectful, generous, and open to vulnerability.

Because community is healthy behavior, I welcome you to comment, to share your own wants and wishes, to discuss wishing with empathy with me and with each other.

Daring Greatly

Poppy Lochridge

I read something recently that dovetailed so closely with my own thinking, my inner dog sat up and perked its ears.

What I read was someone paraphrasing Alice Walker, who said about the 2008 election: 

“This is what I want for our country, more than anything. I want a leader who can love us.”

My inner dog sat up and perked its ears because I had just been thinking, the day before, that if I were in charge of questions for the candidates, I would ask them something surprising.

I would ask them, if you fail and someone else gets elected, what is the first thing you will do towards making your vision, your dream, happen.

Because I want to know that the people who have offered to age themselves beyond recognition to lead us are doing so our of love. Because they have something they think they can give. Because I, too, want a leader who loves us.

I’ll let Walker see us out:

This is not what we usually say, or think of, when we are trying to choose a leader. People like to talk about "experience" and war and the economy, and making Americans look good again. I care about all these things. But when the lights are out and I'm left with just the stars in a super-dark sky, and I feel the new intense chill that seems to be the underbreath of even the hottest day, when I know that global warming may send our planet into a deep freeze even before my remaining years run out, then I think about what it is that truly matters to me. Not just as a human, but as an American.
I want a leader who can love us. 1

 

 

How to play along

Because safety is a core value for me, I am asking that comments in this space avoid all the ugly things: shame, blame, judgement. I am asking that disagreement and discussion be polite, respectful, generous, and open to vulnerability.

Because community is healthy behavior, I welcome you to comment, to share your thoughts and responses and discuss this with empathy with me and with each other.

 

1: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2008/sep/20/uselections2008.barackobama

Queen of Me: Personal Ad #4

Poppy Lochridge
I have inherited in many ways an aversion to wanting. Needing. I write each week to practice wishing and wanting and needing, in hopes that it becomes a sustainable habit and something that Future Me performs with ease.

This is the 4th week we have been wishing.

You are welcome to play along in the comments.

What do I want?

I’d like an end to the helplessness and grief.

 

There’s been a lot shared in the last week about How to Grieve and What’s Allowed for the white, straight person demoralized and pained by the shooting in Orlando. It’s been hard to read, not least because any push back on how or why we grieve when we’re not directly affected feels in the moment like rejection. I want safety - I want safety for all of us, really, but I want sanctuary away from the demanding that so easily induces shame long enough to process my way to an honest Yes or No. All of the telling-us-what-to-do-and-how-to-behave piling on top of existing overwhelm, and I want to remember that I am Queen of Me. 

 

I want to remember that all of the how-to and the you-must or must-nots are other people’s stories. They are feedback for me, material out of which I can make my own response.

 

Striving to be an ally is one of the few places I struggle with perfectionism. It seems like there is always something I’m not doing “enough” of - reaching out to people I know who are LGBTQ to make sure they know I love them and am thinking of them. Writing my politicians to support gun control and equal rights. Attending parades and fundraisers and giving blood and and and - everything I read about being a good ally feels prescriptive, and I’m not sure it’s possible to meet the mark without dedicating oneself, body and soul, to the effort. And were I to make that dedication, my life would falter. This is my challenge as a person with privilege in some key areas - claiming the authority of deciding how much is enough for me.

 

Superpowers

This week, I am calling in the superpower of Finding My Alter-Ego. This is a search for the best version of me to handle the current events - what might she be like?

 

How to play along

Because safety is a core value for me, I am asking that comments in this space avoid all the ugly things: shame, blame, judgement. I am asking that disagreement and discussion be polite, respectful, generous, and open to vulnerability.

Because community is healthy behavior, I welcome you to comment, to share your own wants and wishes, to discuss wishing with empathy with me and with each other.