#15 Born a Crime
15 January 2017 // Eugene, Oregon
“In any society built on institutionalized racism, race mixing doesn’t merely challenge the system as unjust, it reveals the system as unsustainable and incoherent. Race mixing proves that races can mix, and in a lot of cases want to mix. Because a mixed person embodies that rebuke to the logic of the system, race mixing becomes a crime worse than treason.”
I was probably in the minority when I found out Trevor Noah would be the successor to Jon Stewart. I had kept tabs on Noah’s standup and mostly liked his multicultural stuff. When he was named to the Daily Show gig, I figured it would be a nice change to get the perspective of an outsider to the U.S. who is also wildly familiar with things like apartheid and racial tension. As it turns out, that hunch ended up coming true.
Noah’s autobiography was even better than I expected it to be. It’s deeply personal and also features some brilliant essays and commentary on growing up in the time of apartheid and throughout it’s collapse. It examines the poverty he grew up in, his relationship with his comically religious mom, and the last chapter of this book… it was completely unexpected and something else. I enjoyed it totally.
#16 Pisgah on MLK
16 January 2017 // Eugene, Oregon
Nine times out of ten, you’ll notice that whenever something controversial happens that divides people in sides, I default to reminding everyone to try and get along. To avoid trying to take sides, and to find some sort of common goal. Most of the time, I like this approach and I like that I have some sort of built-in avoidance for wanting to take sides.
That said, this isn’t always the right approach.
In an instance where people are being oppressed, when one set of ideas contributes to people being harmed, being put at risk, being separated from family, being vulnerable to hate crimes, being talked about as if they were not entitled to the same treatment as any other human, or being excluded, it is impossible not to choose sides.
To choose to do nothing, to say nothing, or to act like it isn’t happening contributes to the status quo. It allows the oppression to last a little longer, for that many more lives to be ruined. There is no real neutrality in oppression. Yeah, speaking up may result in a few difficult conversations, but there is no improvement without sacrifice.
I think there are ways to do this that are respectful of people while still challenging harmful ideas. And it’s difficult to get it exactly right. But one sure-fire way to not get it right is to let my non-confrontational nature to be an excuse for not showing my Muslim friends, my black friends, my LGBT friends, and all others in my life that I care.
#17 Morning Mugs
17 January 2017 // Eugene, Oregon
I believe that most people want what’s best for their families, their neighbors, their communities, and each other. I believe that in divisive times, attacking each other only makes the division worse. I believe that we must not lose sight of kindness and civility.
I believe to do nothing during times of oppression is to contribute to it. I believe there are times that we’re called to speak truth against hate, that history is full of examples of the beautiful things that happen when people are bold in standing up for right and the awful things that happen when people ignore problems.
How do both these beliefs coexist these days?
Love people. Evaluate and critique and investigate ideas. Love people. Know that most of the time, our ideas require nuance, but there still is truth. Love people. Attack ideas that do harm to people. Love people. Even the ones who hold espouse those ideas. Love people, and remember that hate harms both its target and the one who hates. Love people to bring freedom to both.
#18 Tsunami Books
18 January 2017 // Eugene, Oregon
As of the end of January, I’ve completely finished four books and have three others that I’m within pages of finishing. As I’ve suspected, the end of grad school is leading to what will probably be my most well-read year so far.
Here are a few hopes for what I’d like to read this year.
1) Some graphic novels. I’ve never been a big graphic novel guy but there have been enough I’ve heard good things about. I’ve already got Boxers & Saints on its way and I’m hoping to read John Lewis’ graphic memoirs soon.
2) Some of the books on racial justice that have been on my radar forever. The New Jim Crow, Between the World and Me, and Just Mercy. I want to be better educated on some of the things many of my friends have to deal with that I’m unfortunately not aware of like I should be. And for that matter, Hillbilly Elegy and The Righteous Mind have come highly recommended as titles to understand differences in political thought from a sociological standpoint.
3) Thomas Merton. I think this is the year I finally read The Seven Storey Mountain, instead of just taking screenshots of quotes from it.
#19 Thai Tea Donuts
19 January 2017 // Eugene, Oregon
The mission: Try to create homemade donuts that remind me of the taste of creamy thai iced tea.
The results: Yes! So the texture wasn’t quite what I was hoping for. I ended up unwittingly creating some old-fashioned donuts with a crispy exterior and a crumbly inside, when I was going for a little bit more of a puffy brioche dough. When it comes to the icing, though, I think I nailed that thai iced tea taste.
#20 What To Do Now
20 January 2017 // Eugene, Oregon
I can’t recall a time in my life that’s been as filled with tension, anger, and outrage as the past several weeks. Political drama trickles down and it’s made so many people quite unpleasant. A lot of the anger has been righteous anger- there really is a lot to be upset about. It often feels like that part of the movie where one thing after another has gone wrong, and it seems like the heroes are screwed.
But this is no movie. What do you do when this is the world around you? Can it still be one tension building scene in a great movie?
It’s a season like this one that makes me look all the more forward to having a job with an organization doing work that makes life better for people and to know where my long term home will be so I can begin pouring heavy into that community. I want to channel all of that uncertainty into action- even if it’s just trying to make sure I can do for 20 people what I wish I could do for the world.
In the meantime, it’s a bit of a waiting game. It hasn’t been a passive waiting game, though. I’ve been discovering in random moments a strange sense of calm that doesn’t make much sense.
I think it’s faith. It’s faith that the next chapter will begin exactly when it’s supposed to. It’s a faith that it’s coming, that I’ll have a role to play in taking care of other people, and that I’ll be ready and willing.
#21 Women’s March of Eugene
21 January 2017 // Eugene, Oregon
I’m the product of being Loved well and having strong, positive, encouraging influences in my life, and when I think of who those faces actually are, they are overwhelmingly female! Like… by a long shot!
There’s Deanna, who has to fight every day to have some of the things most of us take for granted, but she doesn’t just settle there. She gives hers to lift kids out of some really dark places.
There’s my mom, who managed to totally put everything she had into raising me after losing my dad and her dad almost within a year of each other without ever using that as an excuse for giving me anything less than the best she could.
Then there are my Aunts, Ella and Fely. Auntie Ella hopped on a plane in the fifties to be one of the first in the family to move to the US and practice medicine. She then basically turned into Mother Teresa, using most of her earnings to support the rest of her siblings and donating her skills on medical missions. These two helped me get a car and a college education and are the most generous people you could ever meet.
Oh, and my Lola, who passed last year. She had the original heart for orphans, the love of hooking people up with a good meal, and the willingness to cross borders for loved ones.
If you think people who treat women like objects are fit to lead, you need to change that. If your vision for the future, the country, the planet, or the Kingdom of Heaven in any way inhibits women from full and equal opportunity, I want nothing to do with it because it’ll always be weaker than it could be with women empowered.