unfinished business

….since my last post, I have felt like a sponge that has been doused in lighter fluid — I am soaking up as much as I possibly can, and yet simultaneously feeling like everything could go up in flames at any moment. Some new thing popping up, another exponential spike in COVID, yet *ANOTHER* completely evil, unjustified piece of police brutality caught on tape that leads to zero arrests or people being held accountable for their actions…

But this time is important. So important. Yes, I feel like there were moments of complete paralysis I’ve tried to keep written record elsewhere– to note, to process, and to understand everything that is going on. And it’s taken far to long to finally get into this space– because there is a *lot* swirling around. And a lot to process.

But. It’s meaningful processing work.

This is going to be a long post, so grab a beverage.

So I’ve been thinking about it. And when I say “it”, I mean the whole movement. The movement among people (rather, the mobilization of people all over) and the gusto into the movement itself– what started as the Black Lives Matter movement 8 years ago and what it’s bubbled into now. How, the way we’re witnessing it right now, the way it’s unfolding here and now, is *long* overdue. And I’ve been unpacking a couple things.

My white privilege, for example.
How I’ve long benefitted off of a racist system. One of my clergy friends articulated it in a rather simple, yet powerful way:

“I benefit from a system of White Supremacy. And I am working to dismantle that system on an individual, community and systemic level. More times than not, I accept Whiteness as “normal ness” which is not right.

Whiteness is a racial construct as is any other racial construct. According to my Christian identity I strive to be part of a community which does not distinguish male from female, slave from free, Roman from Jew.

But according to my 20th and 21st century American Whiteness I have been granted certain privileges that are not given to my Black siblings in particular. These differences include but are not limited to:

1. Feeling that it is safe to call the police for help
2. Being able to wear my clothes, hair, jewelry or accessories in any way I see fit.
3. Being able to get adequate health care for myself and my children
4. Having the choice to send my kids to “better” schools which have more `money and less people of color
5. Having access to 5 grocery stores with in a 2 mile radius of my home – Having a job which allows me the flexibility to work from home during global pandemic

….And so many more benefits to my whiteness.”

~KR, Facebook

I can’t just put blinders on and “not see color” and pretend it doesn’t matter. First, “not seeing color” is such a privileged thing to say to begin with, and it’s harmful because it’s a blatant disregard for the fact that, YES, people are STILL discriminated against because of their skin color. This is something we need to “check in” with, within ourselves, every day, in order to consciously take steps to be anti-racist. Because in this case, being neutral is taking the side of the oppressor. In this case, it is the systems that are inherently racist.

Some of this realization for people, especially if they’re just now coming face to face with it, triggers feelings of guilt and being “under attack”.
It’s important that we sit with this discomfort.

Which brings me to the topic of white guilt. I’ll start by saying that it’s a thing. And a lot of people feel like the #BLM movement is a ploy to “make white people feel bad”. Which is….not correct. What the #BLM movement is calling for is accountability. Acknowledgements that our systems and words and actions have caused harm and that we need to do better at owning up to that harm, and then doing the best we can to repair it, with the preferences, the feelings, & the emotions of the hurt party as the primary focus.

For some, the guilt response swings another way— with these feelings of immediate need to take all of our “guilt” and unload it onto someone (I think now of the massive amounts of DMS and comments that Black educators on social media are receiving– full of the “I’m so sorry’s” and “I didn’t know racism existed this bad” and perhaps the more subtle “I never talk about politics on social media but……” along with whatever other examples I’ve seen. There’s bound to be discomfort here. But it’s our job to sit with it. In private. Deep down. Where it counts. We CERTAINLY should not be burdening the Black community with it.

There is an excellent piece of social media that was very eye-opening to me that I recommend to anyone:
How to Commit to Doing Anti-Racist Work Without Causing More Harm

And because PAYING BLACK ARTISTS, EDUCATORS, & CREATORS is PARAMOUNT, you can go to her site to figure out how you would like to financially compensate her for this work that is *not hers to do.*

And though right now it’s crucial that we work to center & amplify melanated voices, I did want to share also Alexis Rockley’s resource video on Discomfort. (Because sadly, we learn best & are more accepting of information when it’s shared with us by people who “look like us”):


Now that you’ve seen that, I want to clarify that as I’ve moved through this journey, there is some nuance to that. That being how to get involved in racial justice work & who to amplify and when and how.

I’ve heard from many Black educators that they are tired. Tired of doing this work and educating people. That they shouldn’t have to be out here calling people out. That we should be taking initiative to teach our fellow white people how to be anti-racist. I’ve also heard from many that we should be staying in our lane. That we should be shutting up and listening for a hot second about what the community has to say. That we shouldn’t be trying to jump into work we’ve had no experience in, or to lead a movement we don’t know anything about.

All of these assessments are equally valid. There’s a lot of This is not our work to lead (as in, start from the ground up with little to zero education), but rather, our work to engage with this work with an open mind and an intentionality centered in love & compassion that does not do more harm.

I found the below to be a helpful graphic as we unpack these dichotomies & dualities:

From https://www.instagram.com/p/CBjLJ4SASEB/ @decolonizeunconference, a repost from @malefragility

Text reads: contradictions for white people in racial justice work.
White people are a particular liability in racial justice movements <-> White people have specific and critical roles in racial justice movements.
It can feel humiliating to have not participated meaningfully in racial justice work before now, and suddenly want to join <-> In order to grow stronger and win, the movement requires new people to join.
When you’re working on ending an oppression that you benefit from, people will rightly mistrust you and be hard on you <-> When you’re working on ending racism, it’s good to be nice to yourself and patient with yourself.
White activists need to listen to, defer to, and take leadership from POC <-> Because “POC” is not a monolithic identity that all believes one thing, white activists need to cultivate their own analysis and judgement over time.
One specific role for white people is being tough about holding one another accountable <-> Another key role for white people is extending compassion, care, and patience to other white people.
Racial justice work involves white people giving up or giving away their power <-> Another part of racial justice work is white people strategically using their power rather than hiding it, denying it, or pretending it doesn’t exist.


So as I’m learning about all of this, it’s made me aware of patterns. Patterns of people, patterns of words, patterns of brands, patterns of organizations in response to all of this massive shift in opinion.

I’ve looked to my IRL role models. How they’re acting. What they’re saying. Who they are standing behind, what they’re standing for, the actions they’re taking to be & do better.

But I’m also looking at their silence.


Very telling for me were a couple influencers I’ve followed on Instagram for a while. A crazy eye-opener (and an example of how so much racism is baked-in and goes on behind the scenes in the corporate world) for me was the Jenna Kutcher Case Study, made public by Toi Marie which you can read the whole exchange here. Context can be found here.

And that…. is not what we want to aspire to. We can and MUST do better in supporting our Black brothers and sisters and their communities. And because I’m not an expert on racial justice (I really am new to this work, and it’s going to be a lifelong journey of committing to it) it is not my job to lead, but to listen, to amplify, and to follow.

And with this realization, I thought (and you may be thinking now)–

Now what?

Well, first off, let’s not fall victim to performative activism and virtue signaling. A lot of this work is rooted in changed behavior which is action. So it’s important that we find opportunities that allow us to show up this way.

What was a nice example of performative activism was when millions of people flooded their instagram timelines with a black square accompanied by the caption “#blacklivesmatter”. What was suppposed to be a very visual “movement” was actually harmful– protest organizers and movement leaders relying on the availability of the hashtag #blacklivesmatter to direct them to meaningful, useful sources were bombarded by streams of blacks squares.

It was hard to watch– something that was supposed to bring awareness to the movement ended up *hurting* the movement. And this is why we have to be careful.

Another nice example of performative activism would be D.C. Mayor Bowser’s “support” of the BLM movement by painting “BLACK LIVES MATTER” on the road in Washington D.C.. But, since it was not backed with reduced police funding, it was performative. Even the painting was altered by Black street artists to include the words “DEFUND THE POLICE” right after the “MATTER”. The crazy thing?? A Conservative group is now *suing* the mayor for having painted it on the street….

And the virtue signaling can’t just be us, going on Instagram and Facebook and sharing things to prove how “woke” we are. Unless we’re backing that activity with petitions, phone calls, deep-seated change, and commitment to do better…. it’s performative. We can do better. We also don’t get “cookies” for this stuff. Just now waking up and coming to the “antiracism party” doesn’t get us gold stars. We need to do this work because well, we need to do this work. And it’s the “bare-minimum” to be just “not racist”. We need to work to be anti-racist, to fight against those systems that are steeped in white supremacy. And because it’s these systems built by white supremacy, it’s going to take white privilege to help dismantle them.

Part of the proposed ways to do this is by de-funding the police. Some even advocate for abolishing the police. Many people can’t seem to grasp this idea because “the police” as we know them just seem to have just…existed. But I encourage you to read Are Prisons Obsolete by life-long activist Angela Davis to get some perspective. One of the main arguments (besides police showing their abuse of power over and over) is that we ask our police force to handle too much. Too many things that they’re not specialized in. If we were to re-direct funds (even just a fraction!) toward more community minded funds, think of the impact that could be taking place. Minneapolis is one of the front-runners here, experimenting with defunding the police and more community-minded systems. I’m hopeful. I’m hopeful that, if this works, it can be implemented across the country. Exploring how we can better revise/abolish prison systems, make more room for meaningful funding of community based procedures for safety and public health as a result of the redirection of funds could be monumental. The conversation has started– and it’s up to us to contact our *LOCAL* legislatures and bug them about these concerns if we’re going to see ANY change come of this whatsoever.

Speaking of monuments & starting the conversation… this carries over to our monuments. The things we make shrines of to “remember” the past and “honor” those who were “important”. The thing is, what if who you’re “remembering” and “honoring” was part of a crafted history by a dominant race? There’s a thing I read somewhere that I thought was very true:

“All history should be remembered, but not all history should be honored.”

The deep dark, black stain on Germany’s past that is White Supremacy and Nazi ideology is in history books. This is something that Germany has made clear must never happen again. Their monuments are not those of Nazi “heroes”. Rather, they are monuments to the persecuted Jews, the masses of those slaughtered by Nazis.

A lot of people disagree with the toppling of monuments of “Confederate heroes”. And as we engage with those conversations, it’s important to remember that echo chambers are no good. Simply surrounding ourselves with the same ideas and opinions, while comfortable, is not where the growth happens. We have to remind ourselves that listening to the opposing sides & conflicting opinions is part of the work, too– no matter how frustrating it may be.

One of my professors always would say to us: “We force you to sit in classrooms and listen to the folx and people you don’t agree with, so you can reinforce or improve your beliefs.”

This is important. So very important.

So when Aunt Karen starts spouting off racist comments and logical fallacies at the Thanksgiving table, you can sit there and *listen* to her actively, ask her questions to gain understanding, all while corroborating what she’s saying with what you believe and weighing it all against each other to finally arrive at your conclusion.

True democracy has to have space for this discourse. That doesn’t mean, however, that that space needs to be hostile. I agree with the fact that some morals, are, at their base, fact and necessary. Caring for Black lives, for example, is non-negotiable for me. Basic human rights are non-negotiable for me.

To all the people screaming “All lives matter!” at the top of their lungs– yes. All lives *do* matter. No one said they didn’t. But that’s not the point.

One of my fave analogies I’ve seen circulating around the internet is that from Luke 15, the Parable of the Lost Sheep:

15 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

It was illustrated as:

“Jesus in Luke 15:
100 Sheep, but one goes missing.
Jesus leaves the 99, and goes after the one.
The 99: “But…what about us? Don’t we matter?”
Of course the 99 still matter, but they are not the ones in danger.
The one is.”

Which brings me to the point about religion & how it very much informs our beliefs & votes.

I can’t call myself a follower of Jesus if I don’t follow his most urgent, basic, commandment– and that is “to love one another as I have loved you”, and do “for the least of you that which you’ve done for me”.

I witnessed a sermon a few weeks ago that talked about how this world is on its own trajectory. Of though, of ideals, of priorities… Jesus’ priorities don’t often “fit” into our pre-packaged, neat, divided, fast-lane ideals. Jesus’ priorities are “radically compassionate: and seemingly non-conventional– but we’re called to UPHOLD those high standards for ourselves & other HUMAN BEINGS with DIGNITY.

from https://www.instagram.com/p/CCBOyTDJVr_/

And this means showing up, best we can, for our brothers and sisters, of all creeds and colors, and diligently denouncing, with grace, fervor, & compassion, the systems that are faulty, broken & racist in this country.

And once we’ve stood up, learned, and educated ourselves and attempted to educate otheres, we have to act.

Because this moment demands accountability.
This movement demands passion.
This movement demands attention & dedication beyond a shingle news cycle. (Your timelines & feeds may have gone back to “normal”, but we CANNOT STOP HERE.)
This movement demands intentionality, sincerity, honesty, introspection, deliberation, discernment, and joyful, earnest, relentless momentum.

Take note of who is quiet right now. Actions speak louder than words.

And while it’s not our place to judge or condemn or shame, it is our job to lead by example, to amplify what is right, to educate others, and pull others in with compassion & understanding. “Collect our Cousins” , if you will. And engage in bold conversations with our family, friends, & co-workers.

And then we have to rest.

Because we won’t be any good to anyone if we don’t look out for each other & cherish each other in our periods of rest– we have to take care of ourselves, in order to keep the joy, keep the passion, keep the momentum, to do this work correctly & meaningfully, to carry our weight in every part of our lives, every day.

I’ll end on this note of hope, leaving with you a series of resources, links & accounts to follow so that you can start on this journey as well.

ANTI-RACISM READING LIST:

ACCOUNTS TO FOLLOW:

Color of Change  @colorofchange
Black Lives Matter @blklivesmatter
NAACP @naacp
Equal Justice Initiative
@eji_org
Move to End Violence @movetoendviolence
Center for Black Equity @ctr4blackequity
The Okra Project @theokraproject
Embrace Race @embracerace
Rachel Cargle @rachel.cargle
Ijeoma Oluo @ijeomaoluo
Monique Melton @moemotivate
Michaela Angela Davis @michaelaangelad

OTHER RESOURCES:

– White Allyship [Co-Conspirating!] 101: Resources to Get to Work https://www.dismantlecollective.org/resources/
@dismantlewsc


g r a d u a t e d. 🎓✨

So 6 days ago I graduated from The Undergrad Experience™.

Today marks the 60-something day I’ve spent in my smol apartment quarantine.

I was blessed with clear skies and a friend with great artistry to help me document the moment in my grad regalia on a barren campus in 49 degree weather. She captured what felt like an hour of “normalcy” — normal grad pics, normal “culminating hoorah”. The bursting forth of joy for all of the love for the people, places, and experiences I’ve been so lucky to have for the past 4 years.

As I watch us all having our own celebrations… at home, with family, virtually… it’s hard not to be filled with a gratitude that extends beyond the normal huzzah hurray pomp n circumstance that comes with this rite-of-passage kind of ceremonial time.

My youngest brother is also graduating high school and I can’t imagine how hard this is. For people in these shoes who had planned for things to go a certain way, only to have the red carpet kind of yanked out from under them. But the joy and resilience and comfort and closeness that this time has brought us… I think, is, in a way, a grad gift of its own.

Not many will be able to tell their future offspring that, during a worldwide pandemic, they graduated anyway. Not many will be able to say that, despite this mass migration to online learning in classrooms over Zoom and WebEx that feel so foreign and cold and exhausting [esp. when you have one after the other!] but yet oddly comforting as you see the faces of others going through it like you… that you did it anyways.

The days feel like mini rollercoasters, blending together in a rush that feels like a lifetime but also a few minutes– some days are better than others, more creative than others, more positive than others.

And some are days where you just want to roll up in a ball and not do anything but binge watch your favorite series on Netflix for all 8 hours you’re awake.

Taking time to write down and document the present moment helps. Taking time to look around at all the *new* things, the new concepts and ways of life, the habits that you’ve come to cultivate, the practice you’ve had at giving yourself the time and space to actually heal with good habits, with a focus towards turning in & tuning in to what’s really going on.

This time has been a gift, and continues to be so— even as people throw around talk of “returning to normal” or “re-opening”– we’ve spent so much time re-doing, re-learning, re-imagining… I don’t think it will ever truly go “back to normal”. Which is a blessing, I think. So much of all this has transformed the way we think about public health, about the Internet [as a FRICKING UTLITY!], about our work-life balance, about how we treat eachother, how we “show up” for one another even if we can’t do it physically.

I think all of us graduated this year.
We’ve graduated from our old lives.

We’re walking across a stage that’s intimidating and scary with the fear of stumbling.

But we’re walking towards something greater than ourselves.

xx

we did it (:

the quarantine diaries: day 38 // the tassle hassle

So my cap n gown arrived in the mail today.

There’s only 17 days left til “g r a d u a t i o n” |-,: There’s so much left to do and the day seems to be shrinking instead of getting longer and this time by myself really E X P L O I T s my time management weaknesses (((-:

But alas. Patience. Patience with myself. I need to be reminded to have patience with myself.

I basically worked all day today but landed a summer job (????) with a good starting salary all things considering??? Thank the Lord [literally, it’s a church job.]

Annnd not a single ice cream sandwich was had
Until now [I’ve been trying to restrain myself– they’re now a staple of my every day life, along with Gilmore Girls and it’s associated late 2000’s revamp.]

What a time to be alive.

the quarantine diaries: day 22 // a palm sunday

“therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

MARK 10:9


Palm Sunday.

It’s wild to think about perhaps the “Lent-iest Lent” we’ve ever had…

Government mandates that we stay home, stay inside.For many (myself included), it’s been a refreshing opportunity to slow down…to reflect, to turn inward… which has been…difficult, revealing, frustrating, revolutionary, rejuvenating, and eye-opening…

And as I think about all the pockets of joy that exist in the liturgy before holy week, a rollercoaster of grief, change, transformation & ultimately resurrection, I think about this verse, and where we are. Where we physically are.

We’re separated from family and friends.Easter is not cancelled, but the “normal” day, which we’ve come to expect and anticipate through the years, the day of joy and brass band, triumphant hymns, glowing pastels, flowers, flowing dresses and kids running around after eggs on a lawn will (fortunately, for the health and sake of others) not be as it was in past years.

But this is a lovely reminder, a bold statement of solidarity— that the Church, (with a capital C), the nation of fierce love and faith and joy embodied by a people that can’t be fit (6ft apart or otherwise) simply into walls or defined by the physical presence of altars, pews, & kneelers, c a n n o t be broken by physical distance.Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate, worldwide pandemic or otherwise.

Watching a sermon from my home church’s online service today, this bit stood out to me: “Life isn’t happening to us. It’s happening FOR us.”
The lens through which we view everything is so important. Using this time as opportunities to be and share love with others, to grow & connect with others is something I feel like we don’t have enough of.

What time like the present?

There’s a palm on my door today, an open spot in my DMs, and a virtual hug here for you.

Stay safe friends ♥️🌿♥️


the quarantine diaries: day 18 // whipped joy

In between the hiding behind my computer screen lectures and assignments, work and projects… It feels like all the days blend together and it is up to *me* to make them interesting! Which is both an amazing and…interesting concept.

So. I saw this recipe for Dalgona coffee (or whipped coffee) on the Internet and put it in the back of my mind to try out the next time I was making my daily coffee.

It was super easy and super fun to make. I only needed:

– 2 tbsp instant coffee
– 2 tbsp HOT water
– 2 tbsp of white granulated sugar or brown sugar [I liked using 1 tbsp of each]

And then?

1. I whisked vigorously by hand 🙋‍♀️[i did it with a rubber whisk, you could use a mixer if you had one] until light brown & frothy— when you dip your whisk/mixing blades in, it should form stiff peaks.]

2. I poured the mixture over an *aesthetic* glass of cold milk [almond milk / coconut milk works too!] and the whipped coffee, if whipped thoroughly, should float delicately on top.

3. I stirred it together and it was lovely, and slightly diluted & not as strong.

o o o h pretty

And I noticed something.

By bringing forth this lil cup of frothy caffeine into existence, something I’d never done before, it was just a little slice of joy for me. A tiny joyful distraction from the pressures and unknowing of this time.

A small reminder that creating joy daily is possible, that it’s more important than ever, and that this time, while complicated and busy in weird ways, is using us. It’s using me. And we’re using it. We *get* to use it.

To move, to breathe, create, to rest, to recharge, to connect.

xx

the quarantine diaries: day 15 // birthday edition

Years from now I’ll be able to tell my kids or the kids of my friends about this…weird time.

The time I wrapped a string of green christmas lights around a one of our living room lamps and cut out palm tree leaves to tape around the lampshade.

The time I baked my own cake to look like a sunset, dressed with “sunflowers” of pineapple and maraschino cherries, adorned with black script proclaiming my aging.

The time my roomies and I sat 6ft apart from eachother in our pitifully tiny “backyard” and “patio”, with the speakers blaring, enjoying tropical drinks within our #doomsdayluau themed festivities.

The time we recreated a picture of ourselves for three semesters in a row because we’re cheesy and dig continuity.

The time we made jello shots in a baking pan, and proceeded to cut them up like brownies and serve in individual bowls to make sure that nothing & and no one was unnecessarily touching each other.

The time we turned the aggressive news cycle off to live, breathe, and laugh in the same space– to temporarily shift the collective sadness at a senior year pulled out from under our feet, to the back of our minds as we smashed each other in continuous games of Quiplash

The time we connected creatively, separate yet together.

the quarantine diaries: day 7 re-framing "social distancing"

Ever since COVID-19 hijacked the news cycle, our lives, and our daily conversations (is it novelty? Is it a giant, shared relief that we all have this collective, deeply felt human struggle now…?), the words “social distancing” , “self-isolation”, and “self-quarantine” (chiefly “social distance” and “quarantine”) have been thrown about, splattered among headlines, and prescribed by the experts. It was a very real concern, the way to flatten the curve, the surest way to a quick return to normalcy.

And so we throw the words around in our Instagram posts, our daily fitness live-streams, our virtual family reunions, perhaps unaware of the weight they carry. I saw some others point this out, though, and wanted to look at it myself.

“Social-ness”, is intrinsic to being human.
Merriam Webster has the word tied to our institutions, our society, and our ability to be in relationship with others:

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There is scant, if at all, mention of space. Of distance.
Rather, it’s about welfare, relationship, organization… mutual benefit, even. In times like these, as we watch the workforce crumble, our institutions come to a screeching halt, our lives uprooted, and our capacity for solitude stretched and tested– it’s these things that remain paramount: welfare, relationship, organization, & mutual benefit.

I came across 3 alternatives, 3 suggested replacements for the term “social distancing” (which has, seemingly invaded our cultural lexicon and shot to the top of Google searches overnight), and hope that we can use them to more accurately label our situation and what we hope to achieve; that is, to cling to that relationship and caring and interaction and mutual benefit that is so distinctly human, if only from a distance:

Physical distancing: Straightforward and literal. Physical knocks out the societal ramification and narrows it down to your kinetic sphere– your body, where it’s placed, in comparison to others. The CDC recommends six feet of distance between you and someone else.

Holy space: Encroaching into theological soothing territory. My campus minister held a virtual service today, where she talked about how it’s wild that this pandemic and all of its massive changes are happening during the season of Lent…how it’s a time of “holy pause”, and that “…if you haven’t chosen a lenten discipline, that’s okay because maybe it’s been thrust upon you” [lol]. How it’s a time of “fasting from being strong… at time of vulnerability and tenderness” and a time of “softness for the soul” as we “fast from anxiety…with radical trust in Jesus Christ, with abundance of the heart rather than the scarcity of the things.”

And then, there’s my personal favorite as of now:

Distant socializing: Again, emphasis on physical distance. We. Are. So. Fortunate to have all of this technology that enables us to get face time with our friends and relatives. I was on a FaceTime not so long ago with one of my friends and…I could just feel my mood improve, and my anxiety kind of dull to a low hum. ^___^

Staying connected is everything right now, and I hope these alternatives are something we can sub out for what the media has fed us ✌️



the quarantine diaries: day 6: COVID-19 and online learning.

The day is boneless. No bones, no structure. I have to fill it in myself. I oscillate between my to-do list and talking to my refrigerator (…I wish I were kidding. We’ll skip the part about filming embarrassing short film dry erase stop-motion animation on the smooth fridge surface).

I didn’t realize just how many emails landed in my inbox until I was not distracted all day enough to notice them all come rolling in. Half of them, it seems, are university emails, asking for student input (which is great), updating us with revised schedules, or simply words of consolation as the semester seems to be singlehandedly imploding.

Professors (some of them who hate touching computers) are scrambling around feeling helpless not knowing how to best help their students, and trying to wrangle their courses into a neat, digestible package for online use.

This is wild to me, partially because now that “online learning” is thrust upon it, it doesn’t have this glowing, golden halo that a lot of people says it does. Is properly curated online learning a great way to have content without walls? Absolutely. Does it give people who are unable to travel a way to participate and learn and discuss? By all means. But it feels like, as of now, there are holes– gaps, which leave out the nuances of face to face instruction. I just saw an instagram account: @dontwasteyourcollegetuition (haHAA too late) that put out a post re: “how to stay focused in online classes”. There are a lot of vaguely good tips in there, (“create a structured schedule, be clear about deadlines, keep in contact with peers and professors on a chat/video platform”), but nothing really related to our attention spans, blotting out actual distractions, plus the effects on mental health and social relationship building.

It’s crazy to me that so many people are making this transition practically overnight…including those who don’t learn that well in an online learning environment. I am personally frustrated about this change, and while I wish it could be different, I know that this is how it has to be for a bit, and so I’m seeking a way to make peace with it. In a way, part of this process is taking it apart, looking at it and its implementation, and treating it like a learning experience, like an experiment.

And when our university (and subsequent universities) made their big announcement the decision to do this, it hit me. And since I’m trapped inside with much time to stew and speculate, I can write about this realization: this move to Online Learning relies on 2 bold assumptions:

  1. That students have access to a reliable, fast (enough) internet source while they are self-quarantining.
  2. That those in quarantine have devices capable of handling online class environments

I remember how THRILLED I was at the dawn of 2020, knowing my fam had *just* made the switch from DSL to Fios, and the upgraded speed being so much faster than it had been before… I can only imagine, had we not made the switch… relying on 1 modem to handle the bandwidth usage of the entire family, who also need to be online for school. Our system definitely would not have been able to swing that. But I know in my county back home there are those who definitely benefitted from the school’s internet connection, from the library’s internet connection, who will most likely be struggling through this time of online conversion.

Last semester, in one of the most fascinating classes I’ve ever taken, we spoke about the digital divide and the ideological battle for a free, (perhaps mildly regulated) internet. There are so many posts about how this pandemic is, in a way good, because it’s forcing us to reckon with the institutions we’ve built, the outdated systems we have in place, and “the way we’ve always done things!” And part of this is exposing the issue of people’s ability to access the Internet in a way that doesn’t make them bankrupt, or break their backs and sell their souls to tech giants and broadband moguls.

What institutions need to realize is that they are putting the spotlight on the digital divide — the gaping hole between those who have ready and ubiquitous access to the Internet, and those who don’t. This isn’t new. People’s access to the rapidly expansive internet relies, unfortunately, on education, & income, and even race & gender (a product of socioeconomic status), and even attitude concerning technological adaptation. It’s just wild to me how, every day there seems to be a part of the machine that has fallen apart, or broken in front of our eyes. It makes me wonder why we’re not building our own Internet infrastructures, being self-reliant to avoid these system-imposed boundaries and just doing it ourselves, like many successful communities have done.

Some are saying that once this is all over, everything will just go back to the way it was like nothing happened…but I hope for my life that that’s not true.
We’ve learned so much. There’s too much been unearthed now for us to turn back.

covid-19.

I’m sort of at a loss.

And this is WEIRD.

5 days ago I was leaving spring break in South Carolina in a big white van with my mission trip members with so much in my mind, so much unknown, and so much weighing on my shoulders.

…I’m now Day 4 in COVID-19 quarantine, unable & not allowed to return home, and the gravity of everything is settling in. A week ago, I don’t think we really knew what was going on, the scope of this whole thing, how important the distancing was…

Classes have been cancelled. They’re moving courses online. Graduation has been postponed until further notice (which I know has hit hard in the hearts of the ones I know who’ve spend the past 4 years looking so forward to this.

So we take time, and we process it all). Family, friends and I are having to create our own routines, avoid going crazy, fighting boredom with ingenuity, and we are still trying to wrap our minds around everything.

Professors, some of whom hate touching computers, are running around in a frenzy wondering how the heck they can help us from a distance. And everyone is just out here, doing the best they can with what they have. (Including myself. Let me know if you want my Saltine-Cheddar nacho recipe…)

I had a work call a day ago with my boss and the first 30 mins felt like a friggin therapy session, talking about how nothing is certain, that yes, I will graduate, commencement ceremony or not, and that the accomplishment is not something they can take away from you. This is all true. And she is very wise and I know that the cloud of feelings I felt during that time d e f i n i t e l y impact how I feel.

Point is, I don’t think any of us pictured it like this. My heart breaks for family and friends, medical workers, patients, & The Helpers across the nation—for their health, for their isolation, for the feeling of having closure and perhaps your “lasts” & culminating evidence of your accomplishments pulled out from under you…

But this…is our reality now. Our eyes are open. To ourselves, to others, & our society. And we get to trail-blaze, slow down, invent, laugh, make messes, and try new things…and hold on to hope in the meantime.

Some fave words I’ve seen around recently:
Faith is not cancelled.
Hope is not cancelled.
Joy is not cancelled.
Love is not cancelled.

Amidst trying to flatten the curve, this pandemic has uprooted the lives of so many.
We’re called to rest, to slowing down, to creatively problem-solve, to be with ourselves, to sit with ourselves…

And that’s not to say that we have to immediately jump into positivity or optimism right away.
I, among many, am heartbroken for those infected, for those suffering, for those who are out of work or isolated or having a tough time. We need time to process, and that is okay.

But there is freedom, I think, in this time, and in knowing that with this uncertainty comes all this space, an open door of possibilities, even if we don’t see it right away.

We have an opportunity to open up, to relax, re-examine, re-prioritize, and reevaluate the way we do things, to pray, to go within, to break free of routine, to reinvent ourselves, clean, create, and care in novel ways. I’m so thankful for all who are doing their best, helping with all that’s going on, even at the risk of their own health (stellar healthcare workers we’re looking at you!)

Some things I keep seeing and reading and trying to internalize for this time apart:
• Check in on your friends & support em!! (DM me on social media because my phone # be broken!)
• Tell them they’re loved
• Know that *you’re* loved, if even from a distance by people or your Creator
• Get creative & weird & annoying!
• Make things unabashedly & fearlessly (screw perfectionism!!)
• Be smart! Wash ur damn hands!
• Take it easy on yourself!
…Because this rollercoaster of feelings of uprootedness & isolation can be pervasive & massive, but *VALID*.

I hope everyone’s staying safe and healthy… and know I’m sending good vibes your way.

When nothing is certain, anything’s possible.
This too shall pass.🌿

♥️ much love