We live right by a lake with a walking path, and lately I’ve been taking daily walks along there.
It must be mating season for water fowl, because not only have I seen some adorable baby ducks along the way, but I’ve also seen, on more than one occasion, a couple of male ducks furiously pursuing a female, ultimately pinning her down and, despite her (seemingly) protesting, getting his rocks off, or whatever the ducks are calling it these days.
Each time this happens I’ve seen people get visibly upset, even running over to try and defend the lady duck and chase the males away. I’m an animal lover to be sure, but I do not intervene because I am not a duck and I do not understand the duck ways. It’s not my business to get involved.
I am, however, a human person, so matters pertaining to humanity are, in fact, my business.
I’m telling you this because we’re about to get real, my friends, and before you say, “Hey, Nutrition Lady, stay in your lane! I came here for the food, not politics!” I’ll kindly remind you that this *is* my lane. This is my corner of the internet, my platform, my voice, and this is a moment in time when the voices of many are needed.
Glad we got that out of the way.
On Tuesday morning I woke up and checked Instagram first thing in the morning, as I do. Eyes open, Google Analytics, email, Instagram, in that order, always.
I noticed that several food bloggers who I follow had posted announcing that they’d be muting their content from June 1-7 in order to create space for the voices from the black community that so badly needed to be heard, only posting to share and amplify the content of others. This made good sense to me, and it felt a little tone-deaf to be posting about cucumber slushies and whatnot while such an important uprising was going on.
I didn’t publicly announce that I was muting my own content, but let it quietly happen while I was listening, watching, and learning. I haven’t posted my own content on social media all week, and don’t plan to re-start until tomorrow (June 8th) at the earliest.
A little later in the day I noticed a black square pop up in my feed. And then another, and another, and another. Shit, I thought. I guess I had better post a black square too.
But I decided to wait, and see how things turned out. Is this simply internet activism, I wondered? Or is something actually behind it. As it turned out, there was. It was started by two black women in the music industry, Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang, who wanted to encouraged people to spend the day reflecting on ways to support the black community.
The black square was meant to be used with the hashtag #theshowmustbepaused but it got co-opted by people (mostly white) and brands in a show of performative ally-ism that ended up being completely counter productive, ultimately obliterating the #blacklivesmatter feed as people erroneously used that hashtag as well, washing out important information in a sea of black squares.
This Vox article, Who are the black squares and cutesy illustrations really for? does a good job of explaining what happened, and why, when you see something trending like this, you really need to dig into the background and find out who is behind it, what it means, and what effect it will have before you jump on the bandwagon.
If you’re among the millions who posted a black square, ok. But what else did you do? Or what else will you do? How do we move beyond performance, and beyond a showcase of internet activism? What comes after the memes?
Here’s what I’ve done in the past week:
* Downloaded the audiobook of White Fragility and have listened to about half of it so far. It’s been a good place to start in better understanding my privilege, and the systems that are in place that continually lift up white people and continually oppress the black community. It’s given me a LOT to think about so far.
There’s a great review of White Fragility in the New Yorker, and this excerpt was particularly poignant considering the events of the past week.
“DiAngelo addresses her book mostly to white people, and she reserves her harshest criticism for white liberals like herself (and like me), whom she sees as refusing to acknowledge their own participation in racist systems. “I believe,” she writes, “that white progressives cause the most daily damage to people of color.” Not only do these people fail to see their complicity, but they take a self-serving approach to ongoing anti-racism efforts: “To the degree that white progressives think we have arrived, we will put our energy into making sure that others see us as having arrived.”
So, what were those black squares really about? Actually dismantling racist structures, or showing our followers that we have arrived? Let’s be honest with ourselves.
As a result of what I’ve learned so far from White Fragility, I’ve been thinking deeply about my privilege. A friend of mine, who is Black, posted an article on Facebook about a Black man in Canada who was accused of stealing his own car because he was a Black man getting into a nice car in a nice neighbourhood.
“This could be me,” my friend said, “I get into my car every day.
That really hit home, and made me think about the hundreds of daily experiences I take for granted as not being difficult, or dangerous. I recall a moment some years ago when I told that same friend about an opportunity I had, and he replied with, “You Kerrisdale kids are all so damn spoiled.”
At the time I was like, wait a second, yeah I grew up in a good neighbourhood, but I have worked my ass of for everything I have. And while it’s true that I have worked very, very hard, I failed to recognize in that moment, and many others, that I was born on third base. I grew up in an affluent neighbourhood. I have two highly educated parents with good incomes, and went to a good school. My mother paid thousands of dollars in tutoring fees to help me get through math and chemistry, allowing me to finish two science degrees.
Further back than that, my parents paid hundreds, if not thousands of dollars for all of the training courses that it took for me to become a lifeguard and swimming instructor. So, sure, I had a good job while I worked through university and was able to pay my own way, but only because I had a leg up to begin with.
Recognizing my privilege, and now the privilege afforded to my two blond haired blue eyed boys is something I am working on.
Today, my friend got pulled over by the police in the parking lot behind my apartment as she was dropping my son off for a minor. It was for a minor traffic violation, and being pulled over by the police is always slightly unnerving, but neither of us feared for ourselves or for our children, who were in the back seat. We laughed about it afterwards. That is privilege right there.
* Listened to Brené Brown’s interview with Ibram X. Kendi on how to be antiracist. There’s a lot of good stuff in here. Kendi’s book, How to be an Antiracist, is next up in my audible queue. I’ve also ordered a copy of his children’s book, Antiracist Baby, to read with my littles.
* My kids are huge Elmo fans, so I really appreciated this CNN Town Hall on Racism with Sesame Street. It’s a good watch, and my four-year-old had lots of questions so it was a good place to start having important conversations.
* Donated to Together Rising, which is funnelling money into bail funds for a start. There are many other places to donate, but I trust Together Rising’s process of deciding where to send the funds, so it’s an easy decision for me.
Samin Nostrat (of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat fame) tagged dozens of black people in the food space to follow, many of whom I did. Bryant Terry, who is a fantastic author of several vegan cookbooks (Vegan Soul Kitchen, Afro-Vegan, and his newest book Vegetable Kingdom among them) was like, “hey to the thousands of new followers who just showed up, learn more about me here. I spent over two years working on my last book, only to have the book tour cancelled one month in due to shelter-in-place orders…”
Essentially, what I believe he was saying is, “hey white people who are following me to “diversify your feed” how about you put your money where your mouth is and buy my book?” So I did.
* Supported Black-owned businesses in my neighbourhood where possible. (Disclosure: the closest Black-owned business to me is an ice cream shop, so this was almost too easy.)
Ultimately, I know I’ve only just scratched the surface. I’ve read some stuff, I’ve donated some money, and I’ve bought some books. I have the privilege of choosing when and what and how to work on my education. There is So Much Work to be done, *especially* by white progressive women like myself.
* This book is on my list: So you want to talk about race
* And this one, to read with my kids: Stories for Boys Who Dare to be Different.
* This article by Rachel Cargle, Why You Need to Stop Saying “All Lives Matter”.
* This important read: Why the “I don’t see color” mantra is hurting your diversity and inclusion efforts.
Places to donate:
Every little bit helps. If you can afford too make a one time donation, great. If becoming a recurrent, monthly donor fits your budget, even better.
Stand With Bre (sign the petition)
This list is far from conclusive, so if there is a resource you think should be listed, please mention it in the comments and I’ll update the list.
Normally this is the point in WGTW where I segue into the recipes that have been posted on the blog this week, what’s trending, reader comments, and other stuff. I also share cute photos of my kids and complain about my life, and you, my darling readers, eat it right up.
But it feels incredibly tone deaf to segue into that kind of stuff right now, so we’re going to take a pause this week.
Sunday is my highest traffic and therefore highest revenue day of the week, and not posting links to all that content will hurt for sure, but I have the luxury of choosing when and how to mute myself, whereas others do not.
That said, 100% of the ad revenue from today will be donated to bail funds, including any affiliate income.
Got something to say? Keep it respectful in the comment section. Any comments that violate community standards will be deleted and marked as spam. You don’t have to agree with everything I say, but you have to keep it polite, civil, and be willing to listen and learn.
I’ll be back next week with content as usual, but this just felt too important to ignore. Thanks for being here.
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