February 26, 2021
Damn, it has been a while since last I wrote a blog post. And now, I’ve started my own podcast. Look me up and you’ll find me! You’ll find links on this website.
Spring is in the air! It feels wonderful after what feels like a forever winter living during this pandemic. I want to burn my mask! Yesterday, I took off my flannel sheets and put on lovely cotton sheets. I opened my windows to let in some fresh air, though it’s not totally warm yet in Minneapolis. I had to close my windows today! And the weather people are saying we might still have some snow. I hope not.
I live in Becketwood, a senior cooperative here in Minneapolis. I’m on a committee, the “diversity” committee. Most senior living places are VERY white, because of who inherits wealth in this country (mostly white peeps), so as we age, there’s more white people who can afford to live in senior places. Becketwood sees “diversity” as something for the marketing people to work on, and I’ve tried to explain that diversity isn’t about “add and stir.” You can’t just advertise in places where people of color live or hang out. You don’t just add people of color to your community or your workplace and “stir.” Us white people need to build relationships with people of color, and that takes time. And I don’t know a ton of people of color who want to hang out and hook up with us white people so we can count them as our friends. We (white peeps) get nervous around people of color if we haven’t had them in our lives. We have micro-aggressions. Look that up. I don’t want to go into that in this blog. Us white folks aren’t so smart, and we don’t realize that POC (people of color) can “read” our discomfort immediately.
A side note which is related…I’m working on my life story – a memoir. Memoir feels like such a fancy word. But, I’m turning 70 on April 3rd…and that’s a big threshold, and it’s coming up soon. I never imagined myself as an elder, or a person turning 70. I don’t think I’m being ageist. It just still feels like a HUGE threshold to be crossing. My book is called, Are We ‘There’ Yet?: Social Justice Journeys in My Lifetime. I have a literary agent! Look up Grace Freedson. I was a bridesmaid in her wedding when I was 20 years old! We did not keep up with each other. But we re-connected a few years ago through Facebook (thank you Zuckerberg). Grace worked for publishers earlier in her life, but she is brilliant and started her own literary network. Her job? I’ve given her a bunch of information about my book and she tries to “sell” my book to a publisher. When she succeeds, she will claim a percentage of any royalties I might earn. And I’m not planning on having my book appear on the New York Times best seller list. So Grace won’t get rich and neither will I. She’s wonderful and I’m incredibly lucky.
Now…Back to “diversifying” our lives as white people. There’s no formula, I’m afraid. My journey has meant taking back roads, side streets, roads with lots of potholes and roads where you hit a dead end. No super-highways. I don’t have magic answers. In fact, I’m not sure what else I can say right now. In my book, I tell lots of stories about all these back roads. I’m going to read a chapter from my book on a zoom link here at Becketwood in a few weeks. I’m really curious how people will respond. At Becketwood, as I noted, we want to live in a diverse community but it has not happened and our committee is attempting to change who we are.
When I think about change (in the context of talking about diversity), I think about what happened in Washington DC on January 6th, and the trauma of watching the insurrection happen. I think about when Mr. Floyd was murdered by a police officer in Minneapolis in May. The trial of the police officer will be starting in the next few weeks. Our governor has allocated a huge sum of money to “protect” people from any violence that might happen. But are people of color “protected” from the police in this country? NO. When the violent insurrection happened in Washington, DC, the folks of color in my life immediately knew their lives were at risk, and one friend said to me, “I’ve got to go food shopping, because I don’t want to be out on the streets…”
There is nothing easy about creating a world where people of different racial backgrounds can live together harmoniously. Certainly not here in the United States in 2021. I’m going to go back to my now and work on another chapter. Don’t know if this has been very inciteful. So be it for now.