Wednesday, January 27, 2010


My last post got more hits than I've ever had since I began this blog. I'm thinking that, as hard and painful as the topic of race is in this country, people really want to talk about it--or at least watch others talk about it. It's an old wound, it's a festering wound, but maybe more and more people are okay with peeking at it after so long of either denying it or pretending it didn't exist--or didn't affect them.

I had to hurry off that last post because of urgent cuddling time with my sick munchkin. But I'm kind of glad I had to hurry off. It's exhausting, all this race and representation talk. When the discourse is among like-minded folks, it can be energizing, inspiring, revitalizing. But when you're constantly having to search for the right words--the words LEAST likely to be misinterpreted, LEAST likely to be taken in offense...sometimes you just want to say, "Okay, forget it. I'm gonna go fold laundry."

But me--sometimes I can't help myself. Sometimes I see people saying the most effed up stuff and I look at who they're saying it to: often those who don't have the words to defend themselves, or those who are (in Ms. Zetta's words) "the most vulnerable members of my community." And I'm reminded of my parents--intelligent adults who were reduced to stuttering fools when they couldn't find the right English words to deal with police officers, bank officials, school principals. And I have to say something. Because I do have the words. I CAN put sentences together in ways that make sense, and because of that I have the responsibility to speak up. And while I reallyreallyreally want to use wordsmithing to tell stories, to heal and transform myself (and, if possible, others), to write new worlds into existence, I can't just walk away when I know that what takes me a few minutes to articulate might never make it out of the mouths of those who need the words most.

So, I'm striving to find a balance between my two passions: working for social change* and working on my own creative pursuits. Some days I do a great job at the balance thing and allow myself to indulge in some back-patting. Other days, I watch myself get ground up and have to scrape the remnants up off the floor, as I tsk-tsk and bombard myself with I-told-you-sos.

But always...always there is laundry. And thank goodness for that.

*Though I often wonder if, given the current state of the world, any of us really have the luxury to NOT work toward social change...

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