Russian Nesting Doll Racism

Unpacking Prejudice, Forever!

Hello everyone!

I’ve been wanting to send this first ANNIGRAM on the new Subtsack platform with a flurry of joy and vibrancy and hurrahs, but I’m gonna be honest with you: the world is on fire and I’ve been having a hard time brushing my teeth (hello, Barometer of Mental Health).

So let’s get real.

Things are tough. The world we tricked ourselves into believing we could micro-manage is proving itself uncontrollably uncertain and scary. Aside from that whole “deadly virus” thing (remember when you thought that would be the defining point of 2020?), racial tensions have come to a boiling point with the murders of Ahmad Aubry, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor (not to mention countless others in the Black community).

People are angry. People are angry that people are angry. Your friends are arguing on Facebook. Your Aunt doesn’t want you to come for Thanksgiving anymore. And our President is literally using KKK rhetoric to encourage police to shoot peaceful protestors, then chasing clergy off of church property with tear gas so he can hold a bible and quote a verse from “Two Corinthians.”

Oh yeah, and remember murder hornets?

:: "We’re watching you, m@ther f*ckers”

You might feel exhausted, overwhelmed, full of despair. (Spoiler: this is a normal human response. If you are feeling twenty-four sev cheery and joyous, then you, my friend, are not paying attention.)

For anyone like myself with a bent for melancholy and a Texas-wide streak of the depressive, you’d think I would be heading down the River of Tears to Sadtown. A week ago I would have said I wasn’t. Today I am. And this is just how it goes--up and down forever on until we leave this mortal coil.

But here’s what I’ve learned as card-holding, life-time member of the Mega-Feeler Up-and-Downers: Feelings aren’t facts.

So even when I’m riding low in the dark dark place, I know I can continue to find even small ways to show up. I know that the first tiny step is the most important step. And when I am most tired of stepping, I recite to myself all the ways that I am hopeful when my soul is in most need of reminding.

:: This is how I look when I whisper to my tired soul: “Remember, Annie: pasta exists.”

Mostly, what I am hopeful about is this: I am realizing all of the ways I have been unaware.

As a white person, I have been unaware of my privilege. I have been able to navigate the world without the color of my skin negatively affecting my life. Privilege is as simple as that. It’s the easy, peaceful, inherent, and unquestioned knowledge that I’ll be accepted wherever I go. That I’ll be safe. That I’ll be the majority. That I won’t have to feel the anxious “Other-ness” of knowing my life is not prioritized or protected.

I am seeing more and more how I have been afforded freedom and safety and resources that others have not. I have been blissfully unburdened by the ways my brothers and sisters in the Black community have been affected by the history of racism in this country. I have turned my eyes away from injustices--big and small--and been completely unaware of others.

It doesn’t feel good to see this. But it does give me hope.

Because, look: I am seeing all the ways I have been unaware, and I am seeing the people around me realize all the ways THEY have been unaware, and that makes me feel hopeful that even MORE people are also realizing all the ways THEYYYYYY have been unaware, and my hope is that in gained shared awareness of our unawareness we can show up, consistently and steadily, for the work needed to change the world.

This all sounds a bit “kumbaya”-ish, but don’t get it twisted: This process is gonna be messy AF. I hate it already. Because:

I don’t want to feel all these feelings.

I don’t want to look at the icky, shameful bias that exists in my heart.

I don’t want to have uncomfortable conversations with friends and think uncomfortable thoughts.

I just want to feel happy and unbothered and blissful cozied snuggly in my cocoon of ignorance..

::“But I don’t WANT to have to dismantle white supremacy! I’m COMFY…”

The truth is: it’s easier to not care and not try. But I want lives of justice and peace for all humans more than I want days of ease for myself. I want to be a person who, like Glennon Doyle says, “does hard things.” So I’m gettin’ to steppin,’ on a journey from Sadtown via Uncomfortableville.

I know this process won’t have a concrete ending. There won’t be a day I “arrive” and blissfully shout: “I did it! I figured out the racism that exists in the world and in my heart!” I’m learning that as I unpack one way I am unaware of my privilege, I find another Russian nesting doll of systemic inequality that exists for me to uncomfortably examine. I uncover one layer of my biases and find more internalized Karen-ness lurking within.

 :: Either you get the manager or we call the police. WE FEEL TEARS COMING!”

So how do we persevere with a process that shows us all the worst parts of our own complicity? How do we continue on without falling into apathy or complacency?

Well, look, God and I have been on a pretty touch-and-go basis for a while (mainly because, like I’ve talked about in previous ANNIEGRAMs, he won’t get with my freakin’ program, already), but lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about St. Francis, who loved animals and apparently was scolded by his dad for giving all his money to a beggar, and was quoted as saying: "Your God is of your flesh, He lives in your nearest neighbor, in every man."

In short: Frank Assisi was a dude who wanted to help heal the world. This is his prayer:

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:

where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek

to be consoled as to console,

to be understood as to understand,

to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive,

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”

“Make me an instrument of your peace...grant that I may not so much seek to be understood as to understand.” Damn. That’s the stuff right there.

So, onward. Seeking to understand. Here are some resources that have helped me understand things I previously misunderstood:

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack

Slavery didn’t just “end.”

Racism and “Whataboutism.”

Rachel Cargle is breaking down stealth racism in the comments that people are leaving her, and it is an educational gold-mind to the ways white people can derail conversations without intending to. Seriously, she’s a treasure and you need to follow her.

Are you donating? Being vocal online? Talking to your friends? Learning about local politics? Here are 8 Ways to Support Black Lives Matter.

And, as I always do for the ANNIEGRAM ender, here are 3 small things that made me happy the past few weeks. I hope they do the same for you!

THREE GOOD THINGS

  1. The video of these two young men listening to Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” for the first time will inject your heart with pure, sweet joy.

  2. I made these roasted cauliflower black bean tacos and they were muy bomb.

  3. “The Half of It” on Netflix is such an honest, kind look at friendship and longing and love. Give yourself a break and watch this.

Sending you love and all the mental mind-hugs,

AB

P.S Bonus Good Thing! On Monday, June 29th I’m going to do a music live stream on Facebook at 6 pm PST and all tips will go to The Okra Project! Hope to see you there!