Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My Under-Qualified Perspective on Race: Me. [Part I of a Series]

-So, this is me, being super honest and putting myself out there. Comments are encouraged, and please know that this is part one of a series. I have a lot to say about this, but not enough room/time to do it all in one post! Let me know your thoughts!-

As I mentioned in my first post, I'm adopted! (YAY!). I don't know, however, if I mentioned that my family is white. And by white I mean, we live in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania. On a farm. (We don't have cows or horses, or chickens...but my dad is a veterinarian.) So, the town I live in is a rural farming community with more cows than people (or so we say...I don't actually think that's true), and according to Wikipedia (citing the 2000 census), it's 98.02% White. I kid you not. 6.49% of the total population at that time was African American. Pause: I wonder If I get counted in the 6.49% or the 98.02% since our household is "white"...? I digress, my view of the world is very biased and slanted.
*DISCLAIMER: My parents did an excellent job at teaching me and talking to me about black culture. I have shelves of books about Black History, Black Literature, the Civil Rights Movement, etc... Additionally, my oldest sister lives in Camden, NJ and works with inner-city youth. They are the LEAST prejudiced people on the planet. So, what I'm going to say is in no way a reflection of my family's influence. They're awesome.*
Ever since I can remember, I've had white friends. Every single person I've ever referred to as a "best friend" has been white. It wasn't a racist thing...It was a demographics thing. I think the numbers speak for themselves. Sure, I had a smattering of black friends in high school.  The majority of them were (and still are!) nice, but hanging out with them was rare. The confusing part was when I would see black guys in the hallway at school doing their swagger walk with their pants around their thighs and bandannas around their heads. Not only did they look RIDICULOUS, but they were trying to create a culture that they would feel comfortable in. And if you know my town, you would know that this is not impossible, but you just end up looking silly. The way they talked was slang-ridden and, quite honestly, they made me uncomfortable. In fact, you could probably say that I might have been a little bit racist. *GASP* If you're shocked at this admission...I'd encourage you to stick with me. 
High school is the kingdom of Political Correctness. I had teachers glance at me and gulp during lectures for fear I'd be offended. My response (occasionally out loud): "I'm offended that you think I will be offended during the slavery/civil rights unit." Overcompensation is what offends me, not historical happenings being discussed in front of me. I've been in rooms where white people have cried over how terribly their ancestors have treated black people. My response: "OH MY WORD, move on. I don't hate you. Stop hating yourself, it's so not worth it." Maybe I'm misguided in that thinking...but come on. Don't cry over something you had no control over. Instead, focus that energy on rescuing the 27 million people who are in slavery today! I've also been in a room where a white girl said she knew her black friends had to work harder in school to understand the material and "get to her level." THAT offended me. But I didn't say anything because we were in a Judaism class...not exactly a great battleground.

Moving on, let me tell you about my experience hanging out with the black kids in college. I'm not going to mince words: they made me feel inferior. (Oh, the irony.) I was raised to be nice to everyone. But, if you're going to parade around acting super-privileged and super "I'm a better black person than you because I'm actually urban-ly cultured," then we're gonna have a problem. There have been many black girls who I've tried to be friends with and it exhausted me. We had nothing in common, and I was clueless about a lot of the things they were discussing. That sounds like an exaggeration, but it's not. I hate BET. I like over 100 things on the "Stuff White People Like" list. I'm not into super-urban gospel music, I didn't attend a black church, and grits scare me. Oh, and let's not talk about my hair. If you only knew how much money, fuel to drive me across state lines, and emotional trauma my white family has spent on this head of hair...you would be more gracious.

I remember when my college started the Black Student Union. I like to keep an open mind about these things, so I went to the first meeting, and never went back. I couldn't stand it. A room full of people discussing things that I, quite frankly, didn't care about. I stared at my hands the entire time. I just wanted to cry and leave. And no one knew, because I'm an expert at hiding my feelings. (That's a whole different topic).
I didn't understand why black kids felt the need to unify. The white people on campus were SUPER nice, not going to shun them! The black kids were also nice! But, they were segregating themselves, it seemed, the very thing that our ancestors were against. I felt offended; probably because I'm so assimilated into white culture. It felt like every Pro-Black activity was Anti-Star in some round about way. I was always ready to defend my whiteness and my white family/friends. But I didn't, because I hate conflict and already felt on the outside. So, I continued to hang out with my white friends, because God forbid I step outside of my comfort zone.

It's amazing to me how comfortable I was with not associating with people of my own skin color. I am THE exception to basically every "African American Rule" minus my hair texture. And my nose. And the fact that my skin gets ashy all the time! But that's just it. Those exceptions are superficial. Underneath that, I'm just a 20-something girl with a fantastic family, crazy dynamic mood swings, fabulous friends, and a great boyfriend. To see me as "white" only defines the culture I grew up in. And really, I'm more than that: I still love my fried chicken and collard greens.
[End Part I]

Sunday, February 24, 2013

When You're Done Waiting...Keep Waiting.

Tonight has been weird/good/hard/redeeming. My whole family was together for my sister's birthday celebration, and that was crazy and loud and fun as usual. And the kids are spending the night too! But as the evening wound down, I felt myself slipping into this familiar pool of self-pity and wallowing. I'm currently in a long-distance relationship with a great guy I met over the summer. We've been together for almost 7 months, and It has been a whirlwind. We're two hours apart, but we've been fortunate enough to spend a lot of time together. (This weekend, for example). We're polar opposites: I bring him out of his shell (at least I like to think so), and he's literally the glue that holds me together on the nights that I want to give up. We once described our relationship to someone as a roller coaster. She replied, "well, roller coasters, are fun, so..." To which he and I both responded, practically in unison, "I hate roller coasters." And honestly, I've hated so many aspects of this relationship. But after tonight, I've come to embrace the unpredictability even more. 

So, here I am, 10pm, and I'm sinking. Feeling sorry for myself, I went on a twitter rampage (which I hated myself for), and even took to Facebook to express my feelings. All the while, I was talking to my boyfriend who was trying to work ahead on some articles he's writing. I was telling him how I was feeling, and asking him how his work was going, and I was feeling so-so. He tells me he's been working for 3 hours straight, is almost finished, and is exhausted. He then disappears offline...which isn't all that rare. I figured he was getting a snack or watching basketball. So now that I'm not talking to him, I'm feeling even worse. I was just waiting. I was waiting for him to come back to say goodnight. I was waiting for him to text me to say he was waiting in the car and we were going to Sheetz for donuts; I was waiting for a Divine sign that I should just stay in this house for the rest of the week and be 15 minutes from the guy that I'm crazy about. After that thought, I was done waiting. I didn't need a sign from God, I didn't need anything but to sign out of social media, and sleep. But I didn't. I didn't give up...(well, I did sign out of twitter. It was getting cray)...I kept waiting. My sister came into my room and was chowing down on dessert, and I shot him a text message asking him what his morning plans were. Immediately I got a response: come outside. 
YOU GUYS. I couldn't believe it. I have never bolted from a room so fast in my life. I don't even know how I managed to grab my jacket without plowing over my sister (who was whisper-yelling "where are you going??"). I put on my boots, fumbled with the lock, and opened the front door. I stepped onto the porch and he hands me a plastic bag "Chocolate." I started to laugh, because at this point, what are you gonna do? He smiled and said, "And flowers." and then handed me a bunch of mini yellow carnations from behind his back. "I can't...I just can't..." was all I could manage before I started to cry. I hugged him, cried and just kept repeating "I'm so done. I can't do this anymore." And various versions of "You're the best." I finally let go, and we talked for awhile, and he reassured me that everything would be okay. It was one of those unreal times that you can't believe is actually happening.

It was one of those moments that just solidified everything...from an earthly perspective it confirmed that not only am I extremely blessed to be with this man, but he's also someone who is willing to put his own needs (read: sleep) after others' (read: my mental instability). *(In the interest of full disclosure, on the way to my house after the store, he got called in for a gig [singing], so he would have had to leave his house anyway. But you get my point.)* From a God-to-me perspective, it was another lesson on patience. (See also: the last 7 months of my life), and a lesson that He doesn't give up on us, even if we try to give up relying on Him. 

Friends, I'm not going to sit here and tell you that waiting is a perfect position to be in. Sometimes, it really really sucks. And when you reach that low point of waiting, what else is there to do? Sometimes, you just have to keep waiting. The result might be perfect, or it might not work in your favor; remember, things are going to happen however God has laid them out to happen. Sometimes that means more waiting... and sometimes that means a 10:38 PM rendezvous on your front porch. But whatever you do, don't give up. 
Shine Bright 

(So pretty! And I regretted brushing my teeth right after dinner...no candy until the morning!) 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Is this thing on?

Hey everyone!
I just wanted to make a fun little test post. I'm totally stealing from Liesl (who's blog can be read here), and just doing an intro post.

Here are a few fun facts about me!

Firstly, and most importantly, I love Jesus! I'm still trying to figure out what God is doing in my life...it's a day-by-day journey, which I hope to share with you all here! If you'll have me, of course.

I love sports. (I feel that this is important to have here. Why? I have no idea.)  College basketball (GO DUKE!), College footabll (WE ARE!), and I love soccer. It's easily my favorite sport to watch. I guess that happens when you attend Messiah College (One of the most winning-est college soccer programs in all of the land). Seriously though...I played for 7 years, and I'm currently wearing the TAYSO hoodie I acquired when I was 9. (No joke. It still fits.) Sports are a great way to bond with about...90% of the human population! (and 45.8% of all statistics are made up on the spot.). I'm sure I'll talk more about sports in the future...

I love my family! I'm adopted, and I wouldn't trade my adoptive family for all of the birth-families in the world. There's 10 of us (praying for another little one eventually. NO pressure, L+J), And I just love hanging out with the fam, and having fun with the Kiddos (7,5, and almost 4). My parents are great, and my sisters are great and my brother-in-law is great, and everyone is just great! For real, come spend a day with us sometime. It's crazy-fun.

I love my friends. I can't even even explain to you what my life would be like without my family and friends..and family of friends. They mean the world to me, and It's so nice to have several support systems to fall back on. I have a boyfriend, and through him I'm meeting people who I probably would have never been friends with. (That's a slight exaggeration...) And I'm so thankful for him being so patient when I repetitively ask "Wait...have I met so-and-so before...? I can't remember...?" And I'm so glad to be making new friends!

I'm an ESFP: Extroverted Sensing Feeling Perceiving. Aka: The Performer. If you know me, none of this will be surprising. If you're just getting to know me, consider this your loose, general, yet accurate road map of my personality. You can read more about ESFPs and find your own personality type here.

Okay. I think that's good for now.
Comments are ALWAYS welcome and super encouraged! (one of the reasons I switched from tumblr to Blogspot!) So please let me know what you think!

shine bright!