I’ve been home alone the past couple of days. Alone, but not lonely. And thinking of what’s next. For me, my blog, and well, not to sound grandiose, for the world. As for me and my blog, I have been wondering how to keep the ball in play. It’s been two weeks since George Floyd was killed. Two weeks of the world’s attention on racial inequality. Of seeing the phrase “Black Lives Matter” everywhere. And as a blogger, and as a white person in Canada, I’ve been wondering what is next for me. Danish blogger and vlogger Signe of Use Less calls it, keeping our foot on the gas.
I mention in the video that I had a long Face Time chat with my friend Frances of Materfamilias Writes yesterday. Wow… we can talk when we get going. And after we’d exhausted the hair and shopping (or not shopping) thing, we began to discuss the Black Lives Matter movement and how, as bloggers and as women, we might best participate. Let me say right off the bat, that Frances has been committed to anti-racism for way longer than I have, and I do not want to presume to be speaking for her. Not at all.
I found our discussion very comforting, and her thoughts, as usual, were considered and wise. We discussed the ubiquity of BLM posts lately. The overwhelming avalanche of resources: books to read, advice and admonition, articles to digest, petitions to sign, and organizations to support through donations. But as she said last night, “We both prefer the long read.” Meaning that change takes time and persistence. She compared how social media works to how she would teach a course to her university students, one dealing with social injustice. She’d do a ton of prepping and research, then over a number of weeks introduce students to ideas through lectures and readings and texts, and facilitate discussion and writing in the hope of positive change at the end of the semester. This approach runs so counter to the ‘post and run’ mentality that it’s laughable.
The ‘post and run’ approach achieves nothing but a congratulatory pat on the back from followers who then move on. It reminds me of a famous Robert Frost poem “Out, out-” where a young boy dies in a mill accident. The last lines of which are: “And they, since they/ Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.” These lines always angered students who would rage at the callousness of those who watch the boy die, and then turn away. Of course the title of the poem is from Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Macbeth, when he learns of the death of his wife and knows his hopes for power and honour are dashed, rants on the brevity and futility of life. “It is a tale told by an idiot, signifying nothing.”
Okay… now… in case you thought I was waxing English teacher-ish for nothing, I do have a point. I’m not 100% sure these are the best quotes to illustrate that point, I know I’m stretching their meaning, but nevertheless. My point is that if all this energy, all the protesting and posting about the protests is to “signify” anything, we can’t turn away when we get tired, and we will get tired. We have to slow down and play the long game. We can’t rant and run.
On other blogs and in Instagram posts, I’ve seen long lists of commitments made by “influencers.” Some of those lists are very ambitious. And I’ve wondered if many have bitten off more than they will end up chewing. In the Use Less post I mention above, Signe refers readers to this excellent article by Holiday Phillips about the idea of excessively public declarations of support. As Phillips says, “Activism can’t begin and end with a hashtag.” Not that I make any claim, or ever intend to make any claim to the title of activist; I just want to be more informed, and more enlightened.
So to that end, on my blog, I plan to step away from overt participation in anything political, for now. And let my blog chug along as it always has. I’ve been feeling love for the strictly narrative post lately. It seemed the best way to approach the pandemic, and our increasing isolation fatigue. I adore storytelling, as you may have noticed.
And, in the meantime, off the blog, I will commit to reading, and trying to learn more about anti-racism. Trying to finish some of the books that were recommended to me, and then digest what I’ve read. Trying in my own way to keep the ball in play, and my foot on the gas, so to speak. If you’ll excuse the mixing of metaphors. And I’ll check back in with you guys every once in a while about what I’ve read. So we can keep the conversation going.
Of course, some of the stories I’ll be telling on the blog will continue to be about clothes. I said I would show you my new ruched air blouse which I recently ordered from Everlane to wear with my Frame cropped, boot-cut white jeans. I was looking for something a bit boho, unstuctured without being overpoweringly fluffy or too girly. The blouse works perfectly with my white jeans. The puffed sleeves balance off the wider legs of the pants, I think. I sized down and ordered a size 8, and I’m glad I followed the advice in many of the customer reviews on the Everlane website. This blouse will be great in hot weather; it’s feather light. So overall, I’m pleased.
I even tried it on backwards, as you can see below. The slit in the back with the ties reminded me of an older top I once had with the tie in the front.. and you know, I almost like it better backwards. It looks really good with my problematic yellow cropped pants, too. Hurray! Unexpected bonus.
In the same order from Everlane I bought another tee shirt. In white. Yesterday I rooted around in my storage drawers, and found these old cotton drawstring pants, with enormous baggy pockets, bought back in 2014. I love them with the Everlane pocket tee, and my Theory jacket (similar) from last year. The tee is quite boxy and, when partly tucked in, is baggy and casual and perfect with these pants. And with my increasingly fluffy hair. This is what I wore grocery shopping yesterday. Except for my blue mask.
But new tops are not really what I should be talking about in this post. Let’s come back to the more important topic for the moment, I was happy to see that Prime Minister Trudeau was out in his mask at the Black Lives Matter protest last Friday, here in Ottawa. Police estimated that between 7000 and 10,000 people attended the peaceful march that wended its way through the heart of Ottawa. The turnout was amazing for a city the size of Ottawa, and heartening. I mean despite the protestations of some, we all know in our heart of hearts, that nowhere is exempt from racism. Not Canada, not Denmark, not anywhere.
The photo, below, was taken by a former student of mine, Ian Lockhart. Ian posted pictures of the protest on Instagram and he sent me this shot. I wasn’t surprised at all that he was there. Ian has been a force to be reckoned with since high school, working to mentor younger students and raise awareness about social issues. He’s currently a director of the Ottawa branch of The Knowledge Society, a company that works with young people all over North America helping them fulfill their potential, teaching them to be leaders and innovators. We bumped into each other last year, and I was so pleased to hear what he has been doing. Pleased… but as I said, not surprised.
You know, I have relished the solitude that Hubby’s canoe trip has given me this week. Time for reading and thinking, with no allowance for anyone else’s timetable. I’ve been sleeping late without guilt, still reading and drinking my morning tea in my pyjamas on the deck at 11:00, walking when I want, grocery shopping in the late afternoon, eating at 8:30, and binge watching a recent remake of Howard’s End. Despite all the “isolation” we’ve had, I had no idea how much I needed this alone time. How luxurious it has felt to be alone. How lucky and privileged I am.
So yeah. While Hubby has been away, I’ve been trying to decide how best to keep my foot on the gas, and the ball in play. And not to belabour my mixed metaphors, but I think I’ve tried to keep too many balls in the air with this post. Racism, social responsibility, and a new top? Maybe I bit off more than I can chew in one post today. Maybe I should have gone back and deleted that bit about my new tops.
Seriously, folks. What DO you think? How might we sustain all this great energy? Suggestions are always welcome. Polite conversation is welcomed, even if we disagree. 🙂
P.S. The clothing links are affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on my link I will make a commission.