Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt. (Worcester)

I feel like at one time or another, we have all heard this quote. More than likely when we have heard it, we rolled our eyes. Hard.

When I was in high school I had a friend who was battling an eating disorder. Seventeen year old peanut didn’t know shit about fuck (I credit Ruth from Ozark for that amazing saying) at that age. Before long, my friends problem became mine. I dove in head first. And I was surely in denial about the whole thing. I had teachers in high school and then professors in college say the denial statement to me. What did they know?

Hell, what did I know?

Recently , there was a post on Instagram that sparked up a lot of conversation. If you missed it, I will recap. Harold from New Orleans (@blackorean_man) shared his sentiments on November Project saying we are inclusive and welcoming of all. We were called to the carpet because one day in May we all posted about running 2.23 miles to remember Ahmaud Arbery, and he reminded us that posting that isn’t enough… because, it isn’t. It was tough to read. My fragile white mind immediately became defensive. How could someone stomp all over something I pour so much time and energy in to like it’s nothing??? The more I read, the more upset I became. Because that’s what white people are trained to do, get defensive at any small hint that we could possibly be racist.

Harold, before I continue, if you’re reading this I want to thank you for charging my emotions like you did. I want to thank you for prompting some really uncomfortable conversations that we’ve all avoided for so long. I want to thank you for pushing me to educate myself on what inclusion and diversity really stand for. We can post on socials all day long how welcoming we are ,but do we show it?

I put in many hours of thoughts and action for November Project. Ask my wife, she will tell you how much time I put in to being creative and bringing fun things to the community. But, all along, I’ve missed the most important thing about leading a community. Educating myself what it really means to be inclusive. How are our workouts and posts seen by minorities ? Are my Taylor Swift inspired bounces inclusive? Moving forward I promise to work like hell to pay attention to my words, my posts, my actions.

I started to read White Fragility, why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism. Anyone who knows me knows I have about a 4 second attention span. As you can imagine, reading isn’t one of my favorite activities because I just get frustrated that sometimes I have to read the same line 40x before it sinks in because I saw a bird fly by, or maybe I just zoned out. But maybe reading the same line 40x in this case will do me some good. I’m 1/3 in to this book and it’s been worth every ounce of ADD I’ve had to fight off. If there is a book where you’ll benefit to read things more than once, this is it. Did you know there is color blind racism, aversive racism, and cultural racism? Did you know I found myself guilty of characteristics from each of these ? What if I educated myself sooner? Would I have been a better person, leader, friend , etc?

I want everyone to take a moment and just reflect. What we show people and the work we do behind the scenes are different things.

How many of you got that super trendy North face Denali coat with the little pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness and walked around proud like you made a difference by funding a company that gave a sliver of that jackets cost to the charity it stands for ?

How many of you buy everything rainbow in June and go to all the pride parades and party and say you support the gay community , and then once pride passes, you put all your rainbow garb away until next year. You’re partying and celebrating something you don’t even understand fully. On that same note, how many of you rock your pride tagged NP gear, but never read about what it’s like navigating the world as a member of the LGBTQ community ? I appreciate everyone who stands by me, but standing by me and supporting my sexuality doesn’t happen by wearing a rainbow shirt. You’ll never know what it’s like to have the woman at airport security say to you and your spouse “you have the same last name, same address, but don’t look alike. If you arent sisters what are you?” You’ll never know what it was like to marry a man and be someone you weren’t for 29 years of your life because that was easier than taking everyone’s opinions and hatred. Why do I care what people think? Because we all crave being accepted. You’ll never fear showing any affection in public because you might be judged. And you’ll never feel the rage when you see the publics comments on social media when the Boston Red Sox host a pride game. You likely won’t think twice about these things because they won’t ever impact your day to-day life.

Well, saying you voted for Obama, or that you see humans and not color doesn’t make you not racist.

It’s time we have these exhausting and emotional conversations with each other respectfully. It’s time we listen more and talk less. Harold probably tried to send his message in a more subtle way many times, but what do we do when our messages aren’t heard? If we give a shit about this message, we will yell louder.

Harold, you raised your voice , and you got my attention.

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One Reply to “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt. (Worcester)”

  1. Thank you for sharing this. My self-education about racism and learning to recognize personal biases has been frustrating. Sometimes I grapple with recognizing an ignorance, and sometimes I look to hard and am not sure what is the proper thing to do/say. I try to be aware, to listen, to speak up, and to support, but I’m never sure if it is really right, or nearly enough.
    There is so much here to discuss.
    When libraries reopen, I will request that book!

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