Thursday, July 29, 2010

"black like me"

New-to-do Nuts- I know the title of this post may surprise some of you, since you may know me and know that I am not, in fact, black. However, neither was John Howard Griffin, who wrote the book "Black Like Me," after taking a bold, unapologetic step during the Civil Rights Movement. Griffin took medication to change his skin color to look like a black man's, then toured the Deep South to see for himself what all the "racism" was about.

I recently read this book and was engulfed by unexpected emotions and startling questions. It stirred up past feelings of embarrassment and even shame to wear my own white skin. It reminded me of the reality of "white privilege" and how I am a beneficiary of it, whether I like it or not. It opened my eyes to the prejudices and the ignorance I still carry inside. "Black Like Me" has taken me on a personal journey wherein I have been consumed with the notions of race relations and how inadequately we have addressed them in our country and around the world. Instead of celebrating the beauty of our differences and challenging ourselves to extend love beyond our own cultures, we are content to misunderstand, judge, demean, and hate each other.

I've been trying to capture the essence of the book in order to share it with you all, but I am finding that it is simply not that simple. I can only encourage you to read it for yourselves and try to make sense of the ignorance, indifference, and injustice that was a part of Griffin's world and is still, unfortunately, so much a part of ours.

Though the book is full of pointed examples of inequality, I found the following story particularly painful to read.

(A white man from New York has come to Alabama to "observe" what is happening in the South with regard to "the Negroes." At this point, he has called out to Griffin and they have begun a conversation.)

"How about you and me having a drink?" he said.
"No thanks," I said and turned away.
"Wait a minute, dammit. You people are my brothers. It's people like me that are your only hope. How do you expect me to observe if you won't talk to me?"
"Very well," I said. "I'll be glad to talk with you."
"Hell, I've observed all I can stomach," he said. "Let's us go get just roaring blinko drunk and forget all this damned prejudice stuff."
"A white man and a Negro," I laughed. "We'd both hear from the merciful Klan."
"Damned right--a white man and a Negro. Hell, I don't consider myself any better than you--not even as good, maybe. I'm just trying to show some brotherhood."
Though I knew he had been drinking, I wondered that an educated man and an observer could be so obtuse--could create such an embarrassing situation for a Negro.

(After a few minutes, a black man selling turkeys pulls up in a car.)

Ignoring the white man, he spoke to me. "Would you like to buy some nice fat turkeys?" he asked.
"I don't have any family here," I said.
"Wait a minute there," the white man said. "Hell, I'll buy all your turkeys...just to help you out. I'll show you fellows that not all white men are bastards. How many've you got in there?"
We looked into the car and saw several live turkeys in the backseat.
"How much for all of them?" the white man asked, pulling a ten-dollar bill from his wallet.
The vendor looked at me, puzzled, as though he did not wish to unload such a baggage on the generous white man.
"What can you do with them when you get them out of the car?" I asked.
"What're you trying to do," the white man asked belligerently, "kill this man's sale?"
The vendor quickly put in: ", mister, he's not trying to do that. I'm glad to sell you all the turkeys you want. But where you want me to unload them? You live around here?"
"No, I'm just an observer. Hell, take the ten dollars. I'll give the damned turkeys away."
When the vendor hesitated, the white man asked, "What's the matter--did you steal them or something?"
"Oh, no, sir..."
"You afraid I'm a cop or something?"
The unpardonable had been said. The white man, despite his protestations of brotherhood, had made the first dirty suggestion that came to his mind. He was probably unaware of it but it escaped none of us. By the very tone of his question he revealed his contempt for us. His voice had taken on a hard edge, putting us in our place, as they say. He had become just like the whites he decried.
"I didn't steal them," the turkey man said coldly. "You can come out to my farm. I've got more there."
The white man, sensing the change, the resentment, glared at me. "Hell, no wonder nobody has any use for you. You don't give a man a chance to be nice to you. And dammit, I'm going to put that in my report." He turned away grumbling.


This excerpt highlights the absurdity of a good-intentioned white man who has little self-awareness and seemingly no empathy. May it serve as a warning to those of us who would hope to bridge the gap between all races, no matter what race we ourselves come from. Let us first seek to understand--not to be understood, not to put on a pretentious show of how "tolerant" or "politically correct" we are, and certainly not to "help."

Thank you to John Howard Griffin and to all of the heroes of the Civil Rights Movement who risked their reputations, their freedom, and even their lives in order for us to be where we are today! May we realize, however, that we are not "there" yet. Much inequality, segregation, and racism still exists. Let's continue to seek peace and reconciliation and to truly understand!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

"every picture tells a story"

Local Lovers- As I mentioned previously, I recently got married. And let me tell you, planning a wedding is a lot of work! Even if it's just a small, simple, outdoor wedding like ours. Fortunately, there was one detail that my husband, Wes, and I had zero stress about: our photographer.

(Here are some photos from our wedding day!)

If you are looking for a local, creative photographer who you can trust to do an amazing job with your wedding, look no further than our friend, Austin Warnock. He and his fiancée have an eye for capturing all those special moments with uncommon style.

(In case you were wondering, I got my dress($14) and my shoes($5) at Value World, a thrift store in Indianapolis!)

Maybe you're not getting married. Maybe you are a parent and you want to treasure your child's beauty and funny personality on film forever.

(This is my little cousin at our wedding.)

Whatever the occasion, I am confident you will find Austin's work to be incredible! He has a way of turning even the most ordinary scenes into unique art. (Visit his website for more information.)

(Here our nieces/flower girls are seen playing before the ceremony.)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

easy as pie

New-to-do Nuts- I think I finally know where the phrase, "Easy as pie" comes from! For the first time in my life, I made a pie...and it was really, really easy!

Saturday we made a trip to my little hometown for a family cookout and fireworks. I decided I would try my hand at pie-making (and attempt to redeem myself from the reputation as "the only family member who can't cook"). I bought some delicious black raspberries from the 38th & Meridian Farmers' Market (open on Thursdays, 4-6:30pm), found a yummy recipe, and threw the ingredients together. Served with ice cream, it was a perfect summer treat.

Beauty Buffs- This weekend I also got to meet my husband's great aunt. He has shared many fond memories of her from his childhood. She gave him piano lessons, taught him how to make jewelry (her specialty), and loved to swim at his family's home. She is now 91 years old! But she doesn't look a day over 75. She is incredibly healthy and is talking about enrolling in some college courses simply because she loves to learn! (She already has a master's degree in Health Education.)

As we talked with her, she had many remarkable stories. This woman was born around the time of Prohibition and Women's Suffrage. Woodrow Wilson was the President. Think about how much has happened in the world since then! She has seen so much!

The most striking part of our conversation with her, however, was her permeating positive attitude. She said, "These days, everyone is talking about depression, but I think it's really difficult to be depressed when you are thankful." Practicing thankfulness really helps to put life into perspective. She added, "And watching what you eat. That makes a big difference too." The way we take care of our bodies has a profound impact on how we feel and our overall attitude.
Thank you for sharing your wisdom, Aunt Florence.

Local Lovers- Fellow Indianapolis dwellers, get ready for a big weekend!

It's time for the annual Middle Eastern Festival! Located at St. George Orthodox Christian Church (4020 N. Sherman Dr.), the festival runs Friday (4pm-11pm), Saturday (12pm-11pm), and Sunday (12pm-5pm).
I have gone for the past two years and it is honestly one of the best festivals I have been to! If you like delicious food, fantastic dancing, and a friendly, relaxed environment, check it out! Visit the official website or see photos, get free admission coupons, and find out more information on their facebook page. I hope to see you there!

"But wait, there's more!"
This Saturday is full of fun at the Earth House. The "Pay-What-You-Can Community Meal" goes from 2 to 4pm. This is a great opportunity to enjoy some tasty, nutritious food even if you're broke. Then stick around for the "Really Really Free Market" from 2:30 to 5pm, where you can bring that junk cluttering up your house and give it to people who might actually use it and you can score some great stuff that other people want to get rid of! Basically, it's like a big yard sale, but it's free--really, really free! Earth House is on the Southeast corner of New York and East. Click here for more information!

Friday, July 9, 2010

my motivation

My first ever blog entry: Look out world wide web! Honestly, I've been meaning to start a blog for a while now. For a few reasons.
(I've been a little preoccupied, however, with finishing my degree and getting married and other time-consuming, life-altering activities, but now on to the important things. Joking, of course!)

Anyway, I really like lists, so maybe I'll just begin with one to explain my motivation for blogging.

Reasons for Starting Blog:

1. "Beauty Buffs"- It doesn't take much poking around to find terrible things in our world. I am aware that sometimes life simply "sucks." We are constantly bombarded with news of violence, corruption, injustice, suffering, and other atrocities. While I do not want to dismiss or deny the reality of the damage done, I would like to offer something a little different for people to experience--something delightful, perhaps something inspiring...basically, something genuinely good. So, readers, if you want to be reminded of the often-overlooked beauty in this world, I hope you will find some piece of that here.

2. "Local Lovers"- Secondly, I believe in supporting all things "local": local happenings and festivals, local art, local music, local farmers, local charities and causes, and local businesses. If you want to join me in A) strengthening our community ties and local economy, B) lessening our impact on the environment, C) weakening our dependency on huge, bossy corporations that pay their workers practically nothing to work under demanding and dangerous conditions, and D) living in Central Indiana, this may serve as a place for you to hear about cool "stuff" happening in and around Indianapolis.

3. "New-to-do Nuts"- I like learning and trying new things. Whether it be gardening, changing the oil of my car, skydiving, reading a captivating book, sewing my own clothes, traveling, learning a new language, caring for a pet lizard, or even (occasionally, reluctantly) watching a documentary with my wonderful (documentary-obsessed) husband, I really dig a challenge. And I think you might too. So I'll let you know what new adventures I'm embarking upon and you are welcome to do the same and, together, we can learn and grow.

4. "Alliteration Allure"- (This is mostly a DISCLAIMER.) I admit it. I have a strong inclination to use alliteration. While I will make a serious effort to keep it to a minimum, I cannot make any promises. I mean, check out my titles so far. I'm already off to a questionable start and I've only begun blogging today. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

In summary, sometimes I may post something fun for the "New-to-do Nuts." Other times, I'll share local happenings with the "Local Lovers." Sometimes, I may dedicate an inspirational post to the "Beauty Buffs." If I'm feeling really crazy, maybe I'll occasionally have news in all three categories!

Regardless of where you fit into this mismatched mess, I am giving you an assignment right now. (Oh no, homework already!?)
Please look around your life. What is beautiful in it?
(Feel free to share. Or keep it to yourself and smile and simply enjoy it.)

-mismatched mae