No chickadees this week. Instead, let’s talk more about racism

Ah, man, I like chickadees!

Yeah, sorry about that. Listen, we really wanted to talk about chickadees – and tell you about other visitors to the bird feeder! – but a certain angel chick on our shoulder was having none of it. She claimed we needed to do a follow up from last week’s post, because to write on a topic like racism and then do a fluff piece seemed a little… well, as she put it:angel on my shoulder

Fine. Get on with it then.

Okay. First some stats: Last week’s post saw a little traffic. It surpassed our record number of reblogs for a single post (more than one), broke our record for shares on Facebook (more than two), and actually brought in readers from Twitter (We’ve no idea what’s happening there; we haven’t tweeted in over three years and can’t remember the password).

It also garnered a number of comments. More comments than “likes”, which we’re told is good but seems weird. And while the comments didn’t break any records in number, they certainly did in length.
All this made us realize that what this blog needs is to cover more serious topics. Like, super serious topics. The more contentious the better!
We could cover climate change!
Abortion!
Whether or not leggings should be worn as pants!

leggings

Please don’t.

We didn’t say we wore them. We just said… eh, never mind.
We had a number of very thoughtful comments, several bringing up things we either didn’t cover or didn’t elaborate on very well.
For instance, both here and elsewhere, people pointed out that prejudice is not limited to white people. It’s a universal problem.

Oh, yeah. I meant to comment on that.

You too?
Listen, we probably didn’t introduce the subject well enough and that’s why people got a wee bit defensive.
No offense.

None taken.

Good.
In hindsight, an explanation for why the Convent was meeting on racism would have helped. You see, a few years ago the Leadership Conference of Women Religious made a pledge:

In the presence of constant and painful reminders of the deep roots of racism in our country, (we) pledge to go deeper into the critical work of creating communion, examining the root causes of injustice and our own complicity, and purging ourselves, our communities, and our country of the sin of racism and its destructive effects.

The Sisters have been at it since before we started working at the convent, though this was the first time they were going to devote a full week to it with the entire community gathered together.
Make sense?

Um… yeah… Sorry, I got distracted. There’s a national conference for nuns?

Right?! We were surprised by that too.

Anyway, it’s not that the Sisters don’t understand the issues of tribalism and the wide spread nature of prejudice, but that they were making a distinction between racial prejudices and racism.
Or maybe we should say “big-R” Racism. Meaning the collective actions of the dominant race. For America, that’s white people of European ancestry. It shows up in our laws, our institutions, our media, and embeds itself into our psyche whether we like it or not.
For a better understanding of it, here’s an excellent article on the subject and it’s not too long. It’ll take maybe five minutes, tops.

I’ll read it later.

Please do. Anyway, that’s why the timeline we created was focused in that direction.
And no, we’re not going to upload all those pictures again. If you missed last week’s post, click the damn link already.

Harsh.

Sorry.
Where was I?

You were singing that song from Avenue Q, “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist”

No I wasn’t.
Oh, I remember. So yeah, it’s true that all people are biased. Even the most self-aware of us don’t realize our own biases until we’re confronted by them.
Though rather than just shrug our shoulders and say, “oh well, everyone does it,” we push ourselves to learn and grow and improve.
Right?

Right.

Cool.
You know, we fear we may have confused matters by bringing in our personal reflections and failings. It was not our intent to wallow in “white guilt.” We hate white guilt. In truth, we hate guilt.

Guilt is an useless emotion unless it is followed by real change. That was what we were trying to get across. We used to act one way, now we see the error and will act another way.

Sounds good. I still don’t understand why nuns are talking about it.

We’ve said this before but it bears repeating: where we work is not a cloistered convent. The majority of these Sisters do not live at the Motherhouse.

Motherhouse?

Seriously. That’s what it’s called.
Several of the Sisters live within Minnesota, others are in Wisconsin, Illinois, Mississippi, California, and Texas (in McAllen). There used to be a few in other countries, but now their only international missions are in San Rafael and Juarez, Mexico.
So if your concern was that their work would begin and end within the convent walls, you may rest easy. That’s not how they operate.

Coolcoolcool… So now what?

Well, as we told one commenter, the purpose of the Sisters’ meetings was to 1) make us aware of the need for social & political change and 2) discuss ways of getting there. Their last day was pretty intense, discussion wise, and they decided to continue exploring more ideas and ministries.

So what you’re saying is, even nuns can’t solve racism?

Um… they’re nuns. They don’t have superpowers.

Damn.

Yeah. But at least they’re not giving up. You have to give them that.

Fine. But what can I do? I need steps!

Hey, come on – we gave you steps!

You did?

Yeah. Only they were kind of hidden and random and probably made no sense.

Ha.

Shut up. For one thing, we hinted that voting is important. You understand that, yeah?

Oh… right.

Here at Feeding on Folly, we will not tell you who to vote for. However, we will suggest one thing: When casting your vote, stop thinking only about yourself. Consider the common good. The good of many over the good for you.
That is all we’ll say on the matter.

Our more step – though again, no worries if you missed it – we were advocating an end to modern day segregation.

You want me to sell my house and move?

No, we’re not saying sell your house. Unless you want to, in which case you should consult an agent and start packing.

Got it.

Here’s an idea: how about every other time you catch a movie or eat at a restaurant, you try one in a completely different neighborhood?
Also, broaden your outlook with the books you read, websites you visit, blogs you follow, and movies you see.
Even if you feel properly progressive and have an extra-crunchy liberal core, if all the media you consume is white-based, then you’re not getting enough seasoning.
The point is, get out of your comfort zone.

Honestly, that doesn’t sound like much.

Maybe not, but it’s an excellent way of broadening your perspective. Especially if where you live limits how much you can interact with people of color. In any case,  it certainly can’t hurt.

I suppose not. But I’m just one person and the problem is so vast!

Hey, listen up: You are not one person! There are loads of other people who think the same way you do (or very nearly) and are doing their part too. Don’t lose hope! Never lose hope!
You are not alone.
Okay?

Okay. Thanks.

You’re welcome.
Tune in next week when we’ll probably be talking about chickadees. Unless something comes up to divert us and then who knows?

In the meantime: Be good, be brave, and always choose love.

Word.

MLK quote

19 thoughts on “No chickadees this week. Instead, let’s talk more about racism

  1. Oh yeah, I’ve been watching for the follow up. I admit that when I share on Facebook, it also shows up on my Twitter feed. So some of the Twitterites may have come through my share on Facebook.

    Your encouragement to get out of one’s familiar territory reminded me of when we lived in Grand Rapids MI. My husband was attending Reformed Bible College. I decided to go to a student’s wives Bible study. They were talking about how expensive the laundromats were getting. I told them I paid about half that cost at the one I went to. Well, I’m sure you can figure out where this is going. I discovered I was going to the “bad side” of town and should have been scared I would get raped, robbed or have my baby snatched from my arms. Needless to say, I didn’t click with that group so did not go back to that study.

    But I did continue using that laundromat.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m new to your blog, having been directed here by one of those reblogs. I’ll read whatever you have to write whether its about chickadees or racism. You are good.

    That said, your work is also compelling in the “doomed to repeat it” kind of way. I’ve recently delved into the life of a former Indiana state senator who crossed paths with my main subject – an unscrupulous stockbroker from the early 1900s here in northern Ontario. The more I researched the politician, the more troubled I became.

    This guy would have been a disciple of the US’ current leader. Or maybe the other way around. It chills me to think that the senator’s lobbying and racism and antisemitism taught people nothing.

    I don’t know what to make of it. Maybe I’ll learn something here.

    But I understand the need to take a break to recharge, watch the birds, step back from the nasty business in many of us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. First up: I want to thank you for commenting and the most generous compliment I can remember! 🙂

      Secondly: Your work sounds fascinating. It is indeed troubling how we don’t seem to learn from our past, or maybe we just have extremely short memories. Coupled with that is how often I hear people spout off opinions that are terribly ignorant, and then seem proud of their ignorance? Of course, it’s what our leader does so…

      Thirdly: as for taking a break to recharge, it’s what I’m known for. 😉

      Like

  3. I still think the nuns are missing the point. Focusing on racism, white or otherwise is like focusing on a nasty rash and ignoring the underlying virus. You almost hit on it the other day when you mentioned institutionalized prejudice. The thing is, the institution(s) are not just race, they’re also nationality, religion, political parties, sports teams, almost any “tribe” that has competing tribes. Lack of tolerance, fear, inherited hate, badmouthing the “other” just on principle, close-mindedness – these are underlying issues across the board. While it’s a worthy goal to look at racism because it’s the most visible target, the nuns could just as easily look at the Catholic/Protestant issue (yes, it still exists and still has simmering violence under the surface in places, despite the open-mindedness of a certain blogger and her employers).

    What we don’t need is leaders who model or support divisiveness. It’s clear how harmful that is, regardless of the context. Do the nuns want a target? Start there.

    You sure have gotten serious since you started hanging out with the nuns. Maybe they need to pay more attention to their chickadees.

    Like

        1. I believe it’s important to speak up. It may not gain you any popularity awards, but we have a responsibility to dig deeper. I admire the nuns “seriousness” about a very serious problem that destroys people’s lives. The nuns may not be able to do anything personally about the catholic vs protestant issue, but they can change lives by speaking out against racism and looking beyond the outer skin.

          I really believe it’s not about being entertained – I would much rather be challenged. Of course that’s why I play French Horn.

          Peace to all.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. You know, I admit I was taken back at first. But then I thought, hey, it’s Dave, the guy who take snazzy pictures of sheep and castles and made sure I pronounced Smithwicks correctly!
          So yeah, no worries — we’re all good! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Glad to hear it. Hopefully that’s a benefit of following each other for so long – a little latitude for stronger comments. Perhaps I was taken aback as well, the topic is much more serious than your usual breezy humor.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. Okay, lot’s to cover here, so we’ll see how much I actually accomplish.

    I’m glad the previous post got exposure. It’s a great piece. There were multiple people who shared it on Twitter (myself included, not looking for praise, just saying) and there were reblogs on WordPress. (Donna at “A Year of Living Kindly” comes to mind.) Celebrate this, as you have a light that shines brightly.

    My fave lines from this latest bit:

    “It shows up in our laws, our institutions, our media, and embeds itself into our psyche whether we like it or not.”

    “Guilt is an useless emotion unless it is followed by real change.”

    “When casting your vote, stop thinking only about yourself.”

    “Get out of your comfort zone.”

    “Be good, be brave, and always choose love.”

    And, yeah, I was going to say more, but to do so would take away from your own words, and that’s not my intention. But I’m so glad you’re stretching your boundaries. We all benefit…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your comment came at just the right time, Brian. I was beginning to doubt myself. (Hate to admit how sensitive I can be. Really need to get a thicker skin and all that.)
      And while you weren’t seeking praise for the share, praise you shall get: Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hey Christi, Thank you for continuing to talk about inherent human bias and its ugly manifestations such as racism. I appreciate you leading this discussion while maintaining your cherished sense of humor. I know that I benefit from the reminders to identify my own personal biases and the implied call to keep my mind open, tolerant, and nonjudgemental.

    Liked by 1 person

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