A foggy, misty, sunny, breezy day by the sea. The snow peas have come and gone, and the first crop of lettuce now has just a bite of bitterness. The cauliflower have been wrapped in their leaves and the early potatoes are dying back. Out in the larger world the St. John’s Wort is in full bloom, suggesting we are at mid-summer. Last Monday the Thunder Beings came for the first time this year, a brief visit that was none the less greeted enthusiastically.
Yesterday was the Fourth of July, Independence Day in the U.S.. We generally find the day challenging, although given the chance we often join some of the less patriotic activities. Truth is, we are all to aware of the reality behind the myth of American exceptionalism and the disconnect between the holiday and history. This year the disconnect is in plain and painful view, so our sole event was diner on the patio at my mother-in-law’s, a feast worthy of a fine summer evening.
Friday evening I joined a good sized group of colleagues from across the country for an online social hour. There was a lot of early celebration and a general sense of anticipation for the holiday to come. Someone asked me what I was thinking about these days and I replied that I find the holiday immensely problematic. Asked why, I explained that the colonies had revolted at least as much to further their desire to acquire more Native territory as to shed the King’s taxes. (The Crown had imposed a freeze on westward expansion.)
Although Independence Day marks the beginning of essentially unfettered genocide, I figured there was no reason for me to say more about the subsequent history of westward expansion and Manifest Destiny as surely these well educated folks knew that history well. I also did not mention the standoff between land protectors and police and National Guard troops that was occurring on the road to the president’s hate filled event at Mount Rushmore. I guess saying something more might have been a good idea, just to put the conversation in more context. Anyway, the Black Hills are sacred to my father’s side of the family, and to the Indigenous people who live there, and my heart and thoughts were with the land protectors.
After a couple of participants laughingly spoke to not having learned the non-tax related reasons for the Independence Declaration, the group moved along to other things. Sadly, the opportunity to talk about the challenges faced by the large part of the country’s population that is less than comfortable with Independence Day was missed, although someone did note that as a nation we do not do well with interdependence. When, at the end of the hour, everyone wanted to sing “America the Beautiful”, and did, I was more than a bit stunned.
The thing is: these folks are part of a professional organization with a long history of theoretically championing diversity while systematically excluding or marginalizing systems impacted people. In the end, my experience of that social hour was a lot like that of many other events sponsored by the organization. These folks just don’t seem to care to get it.
16 thoughts on “Everyday Indifference on the Third of July”
Dare I say – maybe it’s time to move on and find social groups that support you. Personally I am going through similar stuff and am finding the energetic cost of being with people who don’t support me is just too high a price to pay anymore. These days I am turning within to self nurture and gather strength. It does mean I am most often alone but maybe that is part of the spiritual significance of these times of physical isolation. Maybe it is that when this storm clears we will emerge stronger, clearer and proud to stand in our truth. Just some thoughts… ignore them if they don’t resonate with you. ❤ Suzanne
As usual your thoughts are on point and indeed useful. I stay in the fray to support others and the generations to come, but the sad truth is that these organizations really have no desire to change. Fortunately, some of them are placing young people in positions of leadership so there is hope for change.
I hope you are right about mainstream organizations changing in the future. I feel overwhelmed by the world and its injustices right now. I think we need a fundamental paradigm shift. I no longer have the energy to prop up groups and individals who could be ok if only they changed a bit. It’s good you can still find the energy to do this but take care. Don’t let them exhaust you.
Yes, exhaustion is always a threat. I think it works best if we all take turns. I am pulling back so we shall see what happens. Still, I need to take care of myself by noting racism when I am confronted with it…..
Yes, absolutely. I agree with everything you say here.
I guess this is another of the perks of white privilege. The group can have a less nuanced understanding, a superficial commitment to their purpose or mission. It is only those who don’t have privilege who have to understand all the rules of belonging and to learn to live on the outside. I assume it was this group that had the conference that wasn’t handicap accessible and, if I remember right, had a hard time understanding how this was inconsistent with their mission.
Pat, This actually pretty much describes ALL of our professional organizations! Some try harder than others but the outcome is pretty much the same. Had I known that forty years later things would be the same, I might not have wasted so much money supporting them.For a long time I thought the problem must be me…..
And those in power will support your belief that the problem is you. You need to adapt, not them. And if you insist the problem is also theirs, you are defined as difficult. I have seen this in agencies.
Oh, gosh! Have been trying to figure out how to stay openhearted while at the same time acknowledging all that you have noted in your post. As a Franco-American in Maine who is all too familiar with discrimination, repression, and prejudice, I know it is not easy.
Laurie, having lived in Northern Vermont, I kinda get the Franco-American and Abenaki experience. I was shocked at the racism my friends had to endure for decades. It seems a bit better now, especially for Franco-Americans. I have tried always to challenge that ridiculous stuff, it still hurts and those challenges seldom go anywhere. Still we try for the future generations and ourselves. Sorry you are confronted with those prejudices.
Many thanks! Better nowadays. I was on the edge of it as a child.
You’ve been an incredible teacher and gentle reminder of facing reality through this blog. Amidst your exhaustion and the prevailing massive indifference everywhere I wanted to thank you for that.
I have held off replying to this kindest of notes. Reading it, I was left with a large lump in my throat and a tear in my eye. I truly oave no idea what to say. Thank you.
Ah, such a challenging, and often painful, role to always be the educator among people who really have a responsibility to know better. It sounds like you said what you could, what they might be able to hear. More would only engender resistance I suspect. Sending my best wishes to you.
yes, the role is thankless as you so well know. Actually, it i not really thankless. Rather, it is exhausting and too often people get angry and resentful. Still, things must be said, mostly in kindness I hope.