Insider. Outsider.

Insider.  Outsider.  

There are words I cannot say.  And, there are words that only I can say.  I was born to be an expert in some topics and there are some topics that I will never fully understand.  That is our reality.  Our identities – the multitude of identities that define each of us, some stacked on top of one another and some intersecting in ways that are often defined by those outside of us– these identities determine who we are and how we move through this world.   Some identities are malleable and can change with our own, personal evolution.  Some are fixed, whether we want to recognize them or not.  We have identities that can be concealed and we have identities that walk into the room before our full selves have a chance to enter.  

Today, I am holding two things in my heart and head; I know that they are connected, but I cannot fully see the threads spinning and tangling through them and around them. .  

On the one hand, I have just learned that my school has an epidemic of middle school students selling N-word passes.  Yes, you read that right.  No, it is not a joke.  Yes, they are actually articulating the full word in school.  No, they are not (all) Black.  Yes, the administrators know. No, they have not figured out how to handle it. Yes, the students almost unanimously know that this is happening.  No, they do not think it is problematic.  

On the other hand, I am trying to digest the incident that occurred during last night’s awards show.  Loaded and dangerous ideas fly through my (white) head: toxic masculinity; Black women’s hair and white America’s ongoing commentaries on it; violence on display; role models falling from pedestals (or climbing higher); Black men and the LAPD.  

And I just keep thinking:  our children are watching.  How we react, what we discuss, where we stay silent, when we rise up.  Our children are always watching.  

To be honest, and clear, I could go back and hold a multitude of seemingly disparate things side by side and know that they are connected and not see how.  Whenever we have the space to pull back and look at (whatever) the big picture is, removing ourselves from inside the specificities, we have an opportunity to understand the interconnectedness.  

There is more to be said, but for tonight I just have to be silent and listen.


3 thoughts on “Insider. Outsider.

  1. Oh my! You explained so clearly what can be so difficult- trying to reconcile head and heart. I have learned that listening is better than speaking in so many ways. Yet, I don’t always remember that. Pulling back can be hard but so important.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was imagining a different topic with the title “Insider, Outsider”. It was really interesting to me to see how you took these words in a direction different than I associate with those words–but so apt. Your first sentence is so powerful: “There are words I cannot say. And, there are words that only I can say. ” It’s been said before, but the two sentences together feels like an important statement in itself. I also love the paragraph about our children watching. I hadn’t heard much about what happened last night, so have been more in information gathering mode, but what you’ve written feels like the most powerful, insightful comment I’ve heard/read so far. All my other thoughts will be filtered through that lens. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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