The way we look

This came across my Instagram last month and it struck me. Made me stop what I was doing and just think. Think about who I am. Think about how I think about myself. How I judge myself for the way I look. I’m 57 years old. I’m aging, it’s hard. Things don’t bounce back the way they used to. I have wrinkles where I once didn’t. My love handles have shifted over the past decade. My neck sags a bit more than it did last year, and the year before. But, I know my eyes smile and my heart is big, and I am kind to others, so I can be kind to myself.

And over the past couple weeks these words have taken on a whole new meaning. As a white woman, my skin color never even entered my thoughts a month ago. I never thought one way or the other about how I look in relation to my whiteness. That’s white privilege. I’ve never looked in the mirror and felt different because of my skin color. That’s white privilege.

I owe it to myself to do everything I can to love myself for who I am inside, and I owe it to every person of color to fight for their right to do the same. I definitely have my brand of politics, which grows out of my heart, not my pocket book, that’s just how I was made, but I have sat by for the past 50 years and watched our country subjugate black people, mistreat all people of color. I can’t do it anymore. By not doing anything, I’ve been part of the problem. I won’t be part of the problem any longer.

48 thoughts on “The way we look

  1. Pingback: Why are people protesting | try not to cry on my rainbow

  2. Every time I read about Portland I think about you and hope you are doing okay. I know the media blows things up but written accounts of what our own government is doing against so many peaceful people makes me sick.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is sad and sick, Marie that the Feds are here instigating violence and creating an incredibly unsafe environment for the mostly peaceful demonstrations. All the dangerous late night happenings are pretty relegated to a few downtown blocks and the vast majority of the city is otherwise untouched, but Covid is exacerbating the problem for sure. Lots of people stressed and without jobs. We are fine, wearing masks when out, mostly staying home. I understand why the protests continue, they need to. We need real change! ❤️

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  3. It is wonderful to focus on the inner self or you and those around you, while still recognizing that superficial things like skin-color do impact minorities’ day-to-day lives. And, I applaud you for that. And, you seem like you truly want to understand, learn, and grow. So, I say the following in that spirit.

    I think the other recognition needed from those among the majority in the US is that it is not only skin color in today’s society that is the problem, but systemic issues that have left many behind. It is the circumstances of generations ago through today that have left an impact regarding each of our starting lines.

    First, you have generations of racism based on skin color. But, add to that the fact that many in the minority community did not have parents to help them in their 20s, when starting out in life, with school, with a first house down payment, with networking in the business community, with first internships or professional opportunities, with anything. They started far more than two-steps-behind and also faced racism based on the color of their skin. So many work hard and smart, and maybe even make it beyond our parents’ starting lines. But imagine how much more success could be possible having started at the same starting line. Part of white privilege is not recognizing this reality.

    I cannot tell you how infuriating it is when I see someone from the majority in our country, who thinks they have gained everything they have due to their own hard work and persistence alone. This is a form of living in denial of one’s own white privilege and adds to the problem of inequality and for the minority community feeling like they are not seen or heard. It implies that your station has nothing to do with the starting line you were afforded. It is important to not just recognize that others face racism, to see behind the superficial, but it is also so important to recognize the advantages one has based on the fact that they come from not starting more than two-steps behind because of their minority status in the first place.

    It is not enough to talk about racism is wrong, though so glad many are doing so. But, also ask yourself what are you doing to create a different starting line, a better starting line, for those in the minority community.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I absolutely understand what you are saying here, Liz, and 100% agree with you. I know my life would be different if I were born black. I am listening to my black friends and everything they have to say. I do understand a lot of what you speak of above, but I have not done anything to make it better. I am disappointed in my own lack of action. I am seeking a more appropriate way for me to behave, which includes a better understanding of racism, actively researching and voting for political candidates who better understand and represent black people, and giving money to charities, which I hope will start to help equalize the vast disparities. I can only imagine how infuriating it is for a black person to watch a white person live in denial of their privilege. My Brooklyn son sent a long list of charities and I read through each and in my first round of giving I decided to donate to Black Visions, Reclaim the Block, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. I welcome any and all suggestions. Thank you for commenting.

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      • I am giving to several charities in honor of the friend who helped me get my job, including a significant contribution to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Check them out.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you so much for truly listening. That is a great place to start. And I do appreciate you looking into yourself more deeply and that you want to make a difference.

        Donations and reading are great. Keep doing that for sure. But, if you want to take it a step further, have you thought about getting involved with a local program (e.g., livelihood NW) or perhaps offering a mentorship opportunity for a local college student from an underserved community?

        My point being, it is wonderful to support the broader effort through reading and donations. But, it is so meaningful when someone can take one small/medium action in their own life that can make a difference in the life of another on a personal level as well. I think reaching out a hand, getting personally involved, really touches the lives of all involved.

        Thanks for listening to understand!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I received a reply to this post from someone who had not commented before (so I was able to moderate) and for the first time in the history of this blog, I didn’t approve the comment. He is “not a racist”… blah, blah, blah. I’ll probably write a post about it, but for now, I just don’t want to hear it!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Not to detract from the seriousness of this post, but I thought it might be about quarantine look. I’ve got about 2 full inches of silver grey and I have been fine with it, But I finally got a job (!!) and I am starting on Monday. I absolutely don’t want to color my own hair but I am thinking about it. I tried it a few times many years ago and it was a fail. Salons here are supposedly opening on 6/22 but I have no idea how long I will have to wait for an appointment

    Liked by 1 person

      • Lol, as things go lately, just this minute the salon called me and offered me an appt this week. This kind of thing has been happening a lot lately. That would have worked though, as the job is remote and all anyone will see is the front of my head for the forseeable future.

        Thank you re: job. I have not worked full time in 2 years after a tough layoff. I had some consulting but not enough and no benefits. I have enjoyed freedom from all the corporate crap but this is a great job for me and almost the same pay as my last job. A minor miracle at 57 years old!

        Liked by 2 people

    • Congratulations, B! I’m so happy for you! I hope you love your new job! Funny, when I did first see the above picture/words I also had the gray grow out (interesting as it is white/gray like my dad, not silver/gray like my mom) and faded blonde highlights and I was actually contemplating going gray! 😮 But the county in which my hairdresser has his space (a nice secure space) opened up 2 weeks ago. I gave him a week to work out the kinks, and had my hair done a week ago, so when writing this post, I had the gray hair dilemma in my rear view! At least now I know what color my hair will be when I do go gray! I have never and won’t ever color my own hair and I felt like 2+ inches of white is a lot to cover with touch up spray. Glad you’ve got an appointment scheduled! I found it was easier to get an appointment now as some people are waiting to go in.

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    • My recently separated brother was going on about looks last night. His ex is Māori, his children are Māori. Being anti-racist (thanks, Joshua, great word!) is important to us not just because of who we do or don’t know. Or how we do or don’t look. I talked about that with my baby bro. That although we have had our self esteem shot down by rejection, it was never, and never will be, about how we look. And why is skin colour any different??? Be kind. Be authentic. Looks are the surface window dressing that may cause other people to feel feelings that have nothing to do with who we are xxx

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      • HRC – I’m not sure about your country’s culture — do people feel more comfortable talking about race or skin color or different religions, etc.? In my experience, many of us (most?) in the US just don’t know *how* to have these crucial conversations, and importantly, how to listen (especially if we have white privilege). There has been such a serious issue of black oppression in US history via slavery since before our country was even a country, and it’s about time white people became more comfortable talking about it in a meaningful way. Does BLM exist in NZ? I know there are protests in many other countries, but it’s hard to “feel the pulse” of what’s really happening in other countries.

        Liked by 2 people

        • NZers like to think of ourselves as multicultural and open minded, beleeme. But the reality is, we are a post-colonial country, with a younger period of colonisation than many others, and we are as racist as the next society. Institutionalised racism is endemic here, too. We are a pretty secular society, so the massacre at a Christchurch mosque last year was greeted with enormous shock and disgust for religious hatred. Our indigenous and immigrant populations are predominantly brown skinned, Polynesian or Asian, and there are the same problems here as anywhere. I believe slightly muted because of the late colonisation, and the Tiriti O Waitangi (Treaty of Waitangi) which was a promise by the Crown to give equal rights to Māori. A promise that racist policies of those in power – of course largely Pākeha (white) as the governance system was British. Systemic, poverty, oppression…not at all equal.

          Liked by 1 person

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