Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Secret to Adulthood

This recent summer I said yes. Yes to playing club Ultimate Frisbee. Yes to shooting professional sports. Yes to more boom operator gigs. Yes to church camps. Yes to four day vacations. Yes to four different tournament weekends. I agreed to do a whole lot of things I'd categorically rank ever-so-slightly-out-of-my-league.
I climbed a steep learning curve to operate this.

I made my summer monstrously busy. When I committed to club Ultimate I committed to working out six days a week. When I committed to shooting professional sports I committed to half of my weekends prepping and shooting on cameras I've never touched before. Freelancing meant converting my weird hours into productive ones. I packed my months with plenty of moments where I felt completely overwhelmed. Why? Because that's how adulthood works.

You know that saying 'Fake it 'til you make it'? I'm finding out the older I get the more true that phrase becomes. Nobody (at least nobody my age) knows what they're doing. It's a comfort and a weight. You can blame failing education systems. You can blame a disillusioned Millennial work force. You can blame even some obscure relativistic post-post-modernist vision of meaning, as in "nobody means anything, nothing is connected, everything happens in a vacuum." Those abstractions don't change the fact that every day I get up and I accept I'll muddle my way through this day, this month, this year until eventually I know what I'm doing.

I never learned how to cope with this existential terror in college. In college I learned about white balancing cameras, color correction, economic-immigration causalities, and how to analyze comic book texts. No, I never learned how to move despite your anxieties, despite your fears, in a classroom. I learned that skill all on my own, in the Amazon.

My first trip visiting a native tribe in the Andean-Amazon felt like a total disaster. I wore my scratched glasses. No one advised me against jeans. Nobody expected the off-the-beaten-path hike after a desperate plea from a village elder, least of all me. Instead of a calm day I found myself trekking through the Amazon with nothing more than the clothes on my back, my wallet, my camera, and a pair of Greek worry beads.

1 of 2 photos from that trek.

I remember resting against a palm tree with my new coworker. The exhaustion I felt extended to the part of my brain that translates Spanish. Brain dead, exhausted, and malcontent I broke down. I cried, thinking to myself "How did I end up here?" I prayed. I tried everything I could to calm the dread creeping up on me. I failed. Eventually, through sheer force of will, I got back up and we finished the trek. Long story short it turned into this beautiful experience. I learned to love that story.

Looking back I learned something valuable: No matter how prepared you are, you rarely feel ready. That same crushing worry gnawed at me a few times this summer. I didn't despair. I learned to welcome the challenge knowing I would either fail or triumph. Why? Because it has to end. I haven't ever felt perfectly up to the challenge, but I revel in the fact that by the very nature of time, This Too Shall Pass. 

It gives me comfort. It's not the years of training, the hours of education, or the millions of pep talks that help me get over the existential hump. At the end of it all I acknowledge the impermanence of things. Nothing lasts forever. So what if I'm in over my head? Eventually I won't be and then I can say I know what I'm doing. 

I summarize this idea constantly: "It'll get done, because it has to."

No one ever gets it perfect. We're gonna make mistakes. It's important to prevent the fear of failure from impeding our efforts at growth. Whether we like it or not everything ends. Wouldn't you prefer to say you tried your best? If adulthood is one prolonged experience of feeling in over your head then what's one more challenge? Ignore the outcomes, enjoy the process. That's the secret to adulthood.

Meet the DUCs (ducks) - this year's club ultimate frisbee team.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Fatal Flaw

I'm a large group friends guy.

If I could throw a birthday party with all my closest friends their would be over fifty people present. I keep in touch with old friends from high school. Maybe three or four times a year I get back in touch with friends I lost contact with.

I'd like to say that's social media's fault for making those connections simpler than ever, but I've come to realize it's my innate desire to keep up with the friends I make. Whether it's one semester, one year, or one lifetime I don't let go of friends easily, and I want each and every one of those relationships to be impactful. You see my overwhelming desire to cling to people blends dangerously with my insatiable appetite for socializing.

desire to feel close to my friends, but I want to make everyone my friend.



When I left for Peru (my favorite sentence to use in this blog) it was perfect. Isolated from my friends and family, I was forced to accept solitude and embrace the time alone. Not that I hate time alone, I just never quite felt comfortable achieving nothing/seeing no one.

I used to say I'd feel better about my day if I did something which, in Peru, amounted to biking out for the day or going out with friends. But then I had those nights where I just watched a lot of tv, alone, in my room, and went to bed. What happened there? In Peru I had no choice but to learn to accept it. The guilt of "not-accomplishing" something thinned out significantly. I thought I finally learned how to sit in silence. 




Then I came home.

I've been back in Dallas for well over a year. I  slowly settled back into my life, forming new friendships and recuperating old ones. Easily within a year the number of people I interact with on a meaningful level doubled. That's counting people I play frisbee with, people I work on film gigs with, coworkers, and old friends reacquainting themselves in my life. My network has grown exponentially and I absolutely love it, but I've hit terminal velocity.

There's only so much I can do to maintain an intentional relationship with all these people. In my head I have this weird sense of obligation to someone once they call me a friend. For example: I keep my phone on when I go to sleep in case I get a late night distress call. It could be from almost anyone and I'd show up. Thankfully no one's called (or I slept through them. Whoops!) but it still demonstrates I would rather lose sleep than lose a friendship. That's pathological. Arguably, it's a pathology enhanced by my return from Peru rather than diminished.

You see, when I don't feel like I'm fulfilling my responsibility as a good friend I feel like I'm neglecting my friends. If I'm not out grabbing drinks with them or catching up with them what am I doing? Life goes by fast, I ration. Why waste it watching tv when I could be grabbing a beer? I've been known to push myself for my friends and that's what makes my brand of loyalty so great, but it's double-edged because it drains me.




Think about Todd, from Bojack Horseman. He feels pathologically obligated to fulfill all of his friends' wishes no matter how offhand or ridiculous they are. This leads to some clever hijinks, but we understand (in Season 4 Episode 3) that it exhausts him and he has to learn to cut off his friends when they're being rude or just using him. I feel like Todd sometimes.

That's where we get to the heart of it: My friends can always count on me, but if they don't reciprocate that reliability I am CUT. I mean, it hurts me deeply. Loyalty, as something I practice, is something I treasure, and when it's not taken as seriously as me I feel hurt. When I don't connect with a friend or if a friendship feels abandoned it lingers in my head haunting my dreams sometimes. It's arguably a core element of who I am as a being and I can't control it to save my life, but it's unfair to expect that from everyone around me.



I write all this not to excuse myself but to ask for a remittance. Trust me guys, I'm already feeling guilty if I skip or bail on our time together. It gives me genuine anxiety. But please be patient with me. I make a million and one commitments. I try to honor every single one, and often end up with half the quality I should've given because I'm stretched too thin. I promise if you offer a little patience then you'll be contributing to my general mental health. So, here I am with my psychosis in my hands. Please be gentle.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Easter Sunday

Easter Sundays are the days where you dress in your absolute Sunday best. 

Maybe your mom dressed you up in a bright-colored pastel button up and slacks with a tie (no jacket.) Maybe you came home from college and you'd rather be sleeping in, but you have to go to Sunday church as long as you're sleeping under your parents roof. It's the one Sunday a year where you get a ham, deep dive on the deviled eggs, potatoes au gratin, and cook up some asparagus. At least, that's what Easter is for me.

Easter, as a whole, is the big sweeping moment (the triumphant fanfare) where Jesus does the one thing that literally defines Christianity separate from other Abrahamic faiths. It's this glorious moment and it's written in the Bible to be this total plot-twist. It's the redemption of all our hard work fasting and meditating and self-reflecting during Lent. It's this total, absolute swelling in the movie where we all get excited! Finally! A release from the dread and anxiety! It's a big deal, and I showed up fifteen minutes late.

You wanna know why I showed up fifteen minutes late? Full confession: I watched one extra episode of the new season of Jessica Jones. I knew full well, even told myself, that I shouldn't watch it. It was only gonna make me late for church on the one Sunday I literally can't be late for. Something about the sheer obligation of showing up on time provoked my guilt complex and in order to distract myself from feeling guilty I watched the episode.

It's not like I intended to show up late. I was actually hoping to show up fifteen minutes early. That way I can say hi to my friends (friends I don't see all that often) and get a good seat. Just, something in me didn't say no when Netflix counted down to the next episode. Five. Four. Three. Two. One.

Rationally I felt that if I showed up too early to church I would be the only Young Adult there. Which is no fun. When you're the only Young Adult it gets kinda weird.

You're not a married couple so you can't talk about mortgages or housing markets or school board policies. You're the only one from your generation so you're very unlikely to talk to somebody about It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia or the latest Wes Anderson movie or the best brunch spots in Church.

Then there's this weird fawning effect that happens every so often. Young Adults know what I'm talking about. It's this weird effect where, when you show up church members start acting like you're the saviors of the Church. Which, from their perspective you're the lifeblood to keep the church going and maybe they don't consciously think that but they definitely project that. SO many of my friends echo my thoughts when we talk about going to church: "I just don't like how they treat me so differently."

So I didn't show up on time. I didn't get in trouble or anything, but I definitely felt guilty. Which is another unintended consequence of missing a service or Sunday school. I call it Church-shaming.

On a qualitative level I know that faith is a habit you practice and so I need to go to church to practice it. But, like any habit, it's hard to establish and the early days of establishing a habit are the most fragile.

It's not like I hate church or anything. Quite the opposite, in fact. I grew up in a loving church family that raised me to be a (generally) moral and decent human being. Maybe I would've grown up the same without Church but I'm kind of glad I didn't have to find out. I was born and raised in a church and they helped me grow into an intelligent, responsible young man. So why don't I go on Sundays?

Well the ACTUAL excuse is: I work out on Sundays. I work out in a frisbee group Sunday mornings from 10-11. THEN! I workout Sunday afternoon at 3 in a frisbee league where we play a couple games.

The psychological reason: I can't tell you.

Do I feel a little pressured by my church family and thus put off to the whole event? Sure! Do I feel guilty for not attending church and thus want to avoid the guilt by never going in the first place? Without a doubt. Do I hate showing up to church and being voluntold to participate? I'm a total softie. I say yes to everything.

All of these are valid reasons but they are only part of the puzzle. It's also completely unfair to say Church is the reason I don't go to church. I share some of the blame too.

In the end I don't know exactly why I'd rather go to frisbee practices then to Church. For some reason I like frisbee practices more than a service. Would I go to church if it wasn't during frisbee? Absolutely. But I'm not gonna ask my Church to change itself according to my needs.

I wish I had more answers for you. Maybe I'll explore each of these thoughts in depth. If you agree with me let me know! If you disagree with me let me know! I'm always open to hearing your thoughts. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

'Tis the Lenten Season

Is anyone else exhausted? 

Just a show of hands please. I know I am. It's the kind of busy where instead of coming home after a long day of work and resting I've come home, rested for an hour, and then left to go do something. Several friends came in town for one weekend only so for four nights straight I went out. A feature film I wrote is shooting. I'm applying for a position on the Dallas Ultimate Board. I try to workout three times a week (and three times on the weekend.) A short film I directed, Pillow Talk, made it into the Portland Comedy Film Festival! That's a huge deal! I wrote my first freelance travel writer's piece
Cydney Cox's graduate thesis film - my producing partner Ryan's head featured most prominently in photo

I say all this, not to stunt on anyone but to demonstrate: I keep busy. Too busy, in point of fact. It's all my fault really. 
I helped do some promotion work for this Festival so now I may be going to it!

I've started saying 'yes' to everything that comes my way. Part of me likes going this speed. Going 1,000 miles an hour makes me feel like I'm productive all the time, but every thing comes at a price.




Friday night/Saturday/Sunday a stomach bug gripped my entrails and ransomed my stomach to me. I survived, but only after a healthy day of doing absolutely nothing. No writing. No filming. No working out. No nothing. Just a whole lot of napping and watching tv. I didn't know how badly I needed it until it came crashing down upon me.

Click to Check Out this work I did for Medieval Times!

Where was Lent during all this? Why didn't I do something for Lent? The obvious answer: I was gonna, but then I got busy. Don't get me wrong! I like Lent. It's a good reason to practice healthier life habits and stronger faithfulness. I like challenging myself for Lent with physical changes and spiritual ones. Last Lent I focused on praying every night. This Lent.... I.... worked through five out of the seven days and slept the other two.

So what are my Lenten commitments? Well, if there's anything I've learned recently it's the sheer pleasure of silence. My house rings with the noises of tv shows aired, video games played, and a myriad of other sounds. It's nice to not watch tv, not stare at my phone, and not stress about whatever's coming next. Instead I'm committing myself to just sitting and reading during my time off. I've found it to be more refreshing than an episode of tv. This Lent I'm going to cut down on literal noise.

My second commitment? Pray more intentionally. You know how people say they're praying for you? You ever think about it and then forget they ever said anything? I do. Days pass by. I slave over a keyboard. Life moves on. I see the person again and they're still praying for me. I didn't even ask for that. I just thought it was a one time deal. Well, I want that to be me. Or at least I want to focus more on what I pray for, who I pray about, and how I pray.

I feel a bit like a bad Christian not preparing for Lent.
 In the months leading up to this season I worked myself into an excited frenzy thinking of all the changes I was going to make. I could give up swearing, or alcohol, or coffee. I could write daily. I could write weekly. I could compliment people more. I'm too caught up in my daily living to hone in on my spiritual needs. I shouldn't neglect that. The good news is things ease up eventually. The light at the end of my tunnel sits roughly two weeks away. There's hope! Until then... Sorry if I disappear again. I've got my hands full!



Movie Reviews:
Gintama
Day of the Dead: Bloodline
15:17 to Paris
The Cloverfield Paradox

Essay everyone should read:
Ryan Coogler's Black Masculinity (in films like Fruitvale Station and Creed.)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Common Tongue

So, last week was a beating. My lovely girlfriend can tell you the theme of last week was: Daniel picks a fight and loses. I can't go into detail on some of these "fights" since they're still recent, but I can use a few examples to demonstrate how utterly crazy I felt last week. Fair warning: this blog post doesn't have an inspiring message or resolution. I'm in as much confusion as I was last week. The only thing I've gotten since last week is extra sleep, some food, and a workout or two (or three or four.)

Last week I went up to bat over a comment a friend made that felt particularly reductive. A photo of me holding my friend's hands and staring longingly into his eyes sparked this whole conversation. The comment came as a joke. All that matters is I FELT it was reductive so I tried to eschew the comedy and widen the perspective a bit. I'll admit I might have gone on the offensive a little too quickly (it had been a crappy day.)

Still, one thing led to another - our back-and-forth turned to a gender discussion. You can imagine a conversation about gender between two white, straight, cis-gendered males failed epically to encompass non-cis perspectives well. We went from that to the standard "Why did you have to react so sharply? Can't you take a joke." Rhetoric. The conversation did not move very far past that point.

I understand perfectly my friend's annoyance. His comment wasn't intended to hurt anyone's feelings. It wasn't particularly insulting or mean-spirited. Here he was getting accosted by my know-it-all self staring down the bridge of my nose to correct him. What did he do to deserve this? He's a perfectly well-behaved ally to non-cis gendered people. Our conversation was a private conversation between three friends. What's all the hubbub about?

The longer our debate went on the more I felt like I was falling into some trap. I didn't want to police anybody's speech. I'm all for freedom of speech, but couldn't he see the error of his ways? The debate raged on. I was just as guilty for saying offensive and reductive comments as my friend. Maybe even more so. I lacked the perspective of a non-cis gendered person. Who was I to speak up on anyone's behalf? He's not wrong about those points either. Try as I might I'm no Person of the Year. Instead here I was policing my friend's speech like the liberal snowflake Tomi Lahren wants me to be. How'd I get to this spot?

Well for one, I've been where my friend was. I knew all those rhetorical points all too well. They've failed me before so I no longer trust them. They're red flags to me and maybe that's what drove me leap so quickly to conclusions.

Secondly, I wrote about this phenomenon previously. Or, rather, a particularly good film critic wrote about it. His thesis boils down to: t

  • he privileged people have the luxury of acting indignant or shameful when they get called out. 
  • Neither are productive responses. 
  • Listening is the appropriate response.


I wrote previously about the necessity for privileged people to walk alongside oppressed people.

My exact words:
"we can't be silent, neither can we scream harshly. Our words matter more than we give them credit for." 
So, did I do the wrong thing? My dad seems to think it was an entirely unnecessary debate. 

  • Are we really beholden to calling out our friends when POC, non-cis gendered people, or any oppressed minority aren't there? 
  • Are we obligated to say something over our private conversations? 
  • Would I want all of my reductive moments exposed to me? 
  • Would I be able to communicate if I couldn't say offensive or reductive things? 

My general theory is that evicting even the simplest reductive comments from our language requires less energy than we consider. It shouldn't be that hard to just not say something. Right? 

It felt like a micro-aggression. I just kept thinking "if we can say this kind of stuff in private what's to prevent us from saying it in public?" I wrote previously that there's a nuanced approach. 

  • Did I pick the right fight?
  •  Or should I have saved my energy and rhetoric for "the real fight"?

Well, in this metaphor the real fight is everywhere. It starts at home, in our personal lives. It starts with us drawing attention to those reductive comments. I don't like when someone makes assumptions about me based off of my religion or skin color or gender or what-have-you so I shouldn't reduce anyone either. That seems right to me. So why do I feel so crappy when I tried to do what I thought was the right thing?

I don't want you to think this is a self-deprecating "I'm an idiot" blog post. Instead my sweet lady friend sent me advice I once wrote that I think sums up my experience perfectly:


(EXCUSE THE SOLIPSISM PLEASE!!!)


"those of us privileged enough to remain silent are obligated to speak up. But in a helpful, healthy way.

Look, I know it's a tall order. You have to speak, but if you do it wrong you'll get thrown under the bus. It's a thin line to tread, but we're obligated to tread it. It's saddening to see we operate in less and less morally grey areas,  but it's been my biggest lesson this summer: if it feels a little crazy to you (the privileged person) then it's probably righteous to the oppressed (those not so privileged.) I'm working to tread that line every day. Sometimes I fail and I'm lucky enough to catch myself. Sometimes I succeed in accompanying oppressed people. Occasionally I get it right."

This past week might've been a week of me failing to advocate properly. Still, I'm better for trying and failing than for never trying at all. Right?

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Restraint, or as most like to call it: Adulting

It's been quite some time since the last blog post. I should write more, that way I don't have to keep reminding people it's been a long time. To that effect I do want to say I believe you should save your words when it comes to the internet. In fact, I don't want to write if I don't have something to say and lately I've been so busy I haven't found a message. Nothing anybody hasn't already heard by now.

Mostly I want to relate to all my fellow Young Adults out there. It's funny to me how my generation has taken the idea of performing like a grown adult and turned it into a singular verb: Adulting. Adulting comes in many forms so it's hard to distinguish between Adulting and your everyday life. I like to think of Adulting as: all those things your parents did that you took for granted.

Adulting can be anything from buying your own groceries to paying your own bills. Adulting can be opening a credit line or doing your own taxes. Adulting can also encompass fixing up your house, visiting your doctor to get something checked out, or organizing your best friend's bachelor(ette) party. It's a whole lot of mundane and milquetoast things that daunt and intimidate us. 

The number one complaint I hear about my generation, the Millennials, is: we don't know how to function in basic life because our noses are always on our phones. I'm sure Baby Boomers thought Gen X'ers were crazy for Gangster Rap or artists like Marilyn Manson. Still, there's two parts to this complaint and I only want to address one today.

Millennials both fear and enjoy Adulting. Paying your own taxes for the first time feels rewarding (even if you gave more money than you got.) Not being able to change your own tire, that's embarrassing. I know it sounds implausible, but there are people who can't do their own laundry in the world I live in. Nuts right? Why didn't we learn these skills? How did people before us learn them? When I think about it the answer is: their parents taught them/they had to learn it.

I'll be the first to admit I don't understand how my car works. Even simple things like changing my own oil I can't do. That's embarrassing. So why aren't we learning these things? I think the answer feels uncomfortably simple: we would just pay somebody to do it. I'm not talking about a maid or a cook. I'm talking about a Plumber, an Electrician, an auto Mechanic. It's fair to say that these jobs are irreplaceable and nobody is capable of this kind of work unless they're well trained.

But basic jobs that don't require professionals still give my generation pause. We never learned these tricks or nobody taught us. As much as I'd like to blame the Baby Boomers for these nuisances I think the blame's to share. We live in a country based on an economy of services now so it's important to employ those services. It's just- the things that constitute being a mature adult feels so disembodied from my generation that it has it's own word. Adulting.

I don't offer many solutions. You can learn all the skills you need if you apply some study, a little critical thinking, and the internet. I just want to offer this memo: if you're going to criticize the generation for being particularly useless you might consider where that comes from.

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Writing On The Wall

\So, I have to apologize before I begin. It's taken me quite some time to parse through the past couple month's worth of events. I've been studying and reading and trying to answer a question my generation has. Two things happened really prompted the following words:
1. Charlottesville and
2. My favorite film critic wrote an incredible essay.


This post is for the silent liberals who tell themselves they want to do the right thing but don't know what to do or say.


So, words matter. I've never doubted the validity of that idea. We share ideas with words. When we want to tell someone we love them we use our words (more often than not.) When we speak up against injustice we do so with words. We sing and chant and yell and cheer and pray and talk our way through all the things in the world that challenge us. Yet we don't seem to value them.

In the last couple months they've been used and manipulated. Fox News can put words in our President's mouth. Our President's words can be used by leaders of the Ku Klux Klan. Kim Jong-Un's words can threaten wars. When we discover the words shared between Russian diplomats and the American Presidency, investigations open up. The complete misuse and poor evaluation of the quality of our words shows me we've forgotten several things.

The first thing is: We have to use our words. We don't have a choice. 

In a world where words are treated cheaply it seems defeating to put our own voice out there and join the chorus of like-minded people. What's the point of all those Facebook statuses? Since when has calling out the President on Twitter ever changed the world? Everyone else already said what you wanted to. Why even bother writing?

Charlottesville demonstrated there's a lot of angry men who think minorities and women and non-cis gendered people are policing their speech. Enough people, in fact, to gather as a mob and put fear into the heart of Americans. What shocked me the most was our President's response to an unequivocally simple use of words. What should have been a simple "I condemn Nazis" statement turned into a fumble at the five yard line and subsequent turn over.

Thanks to President Trump I realized there is no such thing as a neutral silence*. There's no positive way to just say nothing. I'm happy to excuse the naive and the young minded (to a certain extent) but the only people who get the luxury of silence are White-Upper-Middle-Class-Cis-Gendered-Men. I thought I'd spoken enough during my YAV year that people know what I stand for. Yet, here I am and I have to say with a singular and definitive voice:

I condemn Nazis. 
I condemn the oppression of minorities, of women, of people in the LGBTQ community, of refugees, of other religions.
I want to improve the living standards for all of god's creation.
I whole heartedly believe that the privileged class need to pick and choose their words more carefully to reflect a mindfulness previously neglected.
Basically: we need to be mindful of what we say, even as allies.

There is no such thing as a neutral silence. I can't believe I didn't learn that during my YAV year. But just as there is no neutral silence we cannot go screaming into the void. That's the whole heart of the issue.

"It's just two sides screaming at each other. Nobody willing to listen." - Everyone these days

Screaming gets us nowhere. I sound like your mom, but she was right. Even when we're on the right side of history our shouting and yelling doesn't help. In fact it often hurts the people we're protecting. It's one of the points Film Crit Hulk writes about: being an effective ally means sometimes not talking over your ally.

We try to speak on behalf of oppressed folks and that's about the dumbest thing you can do. Then someone calls you out. They say "You cut me off. That's mean." Suddenly you're the aggressor. There's only two responses, both are rather ugly.

1. You flip the script. You say "I can't be an aggressor. Didn't you hear me before? I'm on your side. You're the one making me out to be some villain." That's the uglier kind. It redirects the pure shock back at the person calling you out. It's backpedaling at it's worst.

2. You acknowledge it. Immediately you feel shame. Your atonement becomes serving your friend hand and foot, begging to be let off the proverbial hook. This is also ugly, because it distracts from the issue. Instead of acknowledging oppression it becomes about how you can be forgiven.

Film Crit Hulk acknowledges both as two sides of the same coin. They're really just about the ego. You're making the issue about yourself. The best way to address such an event is with few words:

"Thank you for telling me. I did not see that but you have made me think about it in a new way and I plan on thinking about this some more."

I'm glad you feel like sharing, but you need to be strategic about how and when you share a message. I learned this lesson the hard way, and as much as it hurt I'm incredibly glad I learned it. It gave me the opportunity to see that, even though I consider myself an ally to all that people like me have hated, I was still contributing to oppression.

You see we can't be silent, neither can we scream harshly. Our words matter more than we give them credit for. I'm a huge fan of nuance. Even though I'm no master of subtlety, nuance in our language gives us the opportunity to demonstrate complex emotions/ideas.

We have to be careful in constructing our sentences. There is no room for silence. There never was. I made the mistake of thinking so. It wasn't until Charlottesville happened that I realized: not saying something is just as powerful as saying something. Pick whatever Nazi-Germany-American-South metaphor suits you. My point is simple: those of us privileged enough to remain silent are obligated to speak up. But in a helpful, healthy way.

Look, I know it's a tall order. You have to speak, but if you do it wrong you'll get thrown under the bus. It's a thin line to tread, but we're obligated to tread it. It's saddening to see we operate in less and less morally grey areas,  but it's been my biggest lesson this summer: if it feels a little crazy to you (the privileged person) then it's probably righteous to the oppressed (those not so privileged.) I'm working to tread that line every day. Sometimes I fail and I'm lucky enough to catch myself. Sometimes I succeed in accompanying oppressed people. Occasionally I get it right.

I went to an anti-Racism rally here in Dallas. It was my first ever rally. I didn't know what to expect. I didn't go alone. In fact, I brought a potential future YAV with me. The rally itself excited me. Of course I was scared. We learned after Charlottesville, bad things can happen at rallies. I probably spent more time being vigilant amongst my fellow protesters than actually protesting. I got some good chanting in. I didn't make a sign, but next time I'll do better. My goal for attending this rally wasn't to loudly chant into the aftermath of violence. I just knew I HAD to be there to physically accompany all the people who felt oppressed. I was required to be there.

That was the time for action. This is the time for words. I urge you, please, speak up and be particularly thoughtful when you do.


*I'm not saying President Trump's a racist. He doesn't see himself as a racist. He just fails to understand that by cont condemning racism you condone racism. There are only two sides to this issue and he ~unintentionally~ picked one.