The Day I Learned White Christians Hate Me

Dear White American Evangelical Christians,

It’s taken me three years to write this. Oh how I wish you could understand how hard the last few years have been for me, and millions of others. I wish you had the ability to sit with racial discomfort without lashing out at me for more than 30 seconds. I need to tell you a story, but honestly, I don’t know if you have the strength to sit with it. I need to tell you how your racial hatred has driven me away from the God you claim is love.

A mere three years ago, in what seems like a past life, I was attending Mars Hill Church. I was unhappy there but we were leading a community group and bailing wasn’t really an option. Then some tremors started.

To be clear, these rumblings had always been there, but they got pushed to the side (or “under the bus”). This year they bubbled to the surface.

This was August of 2014. My oldest son was about to turn two I was on vacation with little cell service, texting friends every time we got to a town with the newest, ugliest updates. The church was imploding under the weight of a small minded man with a massive ego enriching himself off his flock.

Everyone in my particular faith circle (Reformed Evangelical Christians) was talking about the rumblings. Everyday evangelical Christians inside and outside my faith circle were logging on to Facebook to see their pastors post the latest gossip, respond to criticisms of Driscoll, vote to remove him leadership, or to defend his actions. By their tone, it seemed they all had an opinion that was desperately needed, completely unique, and God-breathed.

And then, like a silent tectonic slip a thousand miles beneath the surface, on August 9th, 2014, at 12:01 pm local time, Darren Wilson executed the alleged petty thief Michael Brown.

Water mysteriously began to pull away from the shore.

The tension — the ugly foundation splitting under the pressure — was rising to the surface at the speed of sound. An orphan tidal wave, the Japanese called it. It appeared from nowhere, was caused by nothing. We didn’t hear a thing. And it still devastated us.

I returned home from vacation with a little tan, a happy heart, and a hyperactive baby boy in my womb. After dinner, bath time, and snuggles with my two year old I sat down with my laptop to check social media.

In the least poetic terms I have available to me, what I saw changed me forever.


The city of Ferguson, Missouri was on fire. I withheld judgment. After all, I had been the victim of police abuse for no reason. And I had enough empathy to know that Black Americans were not just “carrying on about nothing,” as everyone on the political and cultural right likes to claim.

But then I saw the white Christian responses.

The pastors, the Christians, the evangelicals, the Republicans, and the associated gawkers, turned their godly terror, their white makes right holy war, their righteous indignation, from questioning a pastor’s behavior to questioning the value of allowing black people to exist in America.

Of course he deserved it.

He was a thug.

Good riddance.

I would have shot him too.

The wages of sin is death.

It was the conservative evangelical jihad against the evil of blackness — black people, poor people, black culture, black communities — in America. Literally ALL THEY KNEW ABOUT MICHAEL BROWN WAS HIS SKIN COLOR AND HIS ZIP CODE. And yet they knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the country was better off without him.

The unmitigated flow of white racial terror in the form of verbal abuse from the hearts and minds of white Christians was staggering. The firehose of vitriol directly towards people who looked like me, with no regard for empathy, sympathy, understanding, coming directly from white congregations was like nothing I had ever seen before.

They will know we are evangelicals by our racial hatred.

Dear white evangelical Christians,

I sincerely believed you loved me because God loved me. Now I know for a fact that you do not.

I learned that night that white Christians do not love me. Oh, you claim you do. But I am a black woman in America. I am not stupid. I hear what you say. I see what you write. I observe how you behave. What you said and wrote and did in the wake of Ferguson, without a drop of empathy or compassion tells me everything I need to know about how you see me and how you value me. I know better how you feel about black Americans than you do. Your selective racial ignorance and racial “colorblindness” are nothing more than whitewashed self-deception.

How do you hate me? Let me count the ways.

I know you hate me when you jump to defend cops.

I know you hate me when you jump to defend roadside executions.

I know you hate me when you say, “He probably deserved it.”

I know you hate me when you call me a liar because my experiences are different than your own.

I know you hate me when you tell me I am exaggerating when I speak of racist encounters I have had.

I know you hate me when you have to send a white person to vouch for me before you’ll believe me.

I know you have chosen ignorance when you ask from your suburban sofas and rural pickup trucks, “Why would they destroy their own town?”

I know you hate me when you are more concerned with broken windows than black lives.

I know you hate me when you post blogs condemning black Americans’ behavior while failing to take into account anything but skin color and “culture”.

I know you hate me when you’re indifferent to my experiences.

I know you hate me when you assume my behavior coupled with my melanin count means I deserve to be shot over a broken tail light.

I know you hate me when you are indifferent to my increased health risks.

I know you hate me when you speak over me because your opinion is more valid than my experience.

I know you hate me when you scream at black mothers heading into abortion clinics but are silent about black mothers dying in childbirth.

I know you hate me when you devote time, money, and energy to shutting down Planned Parenthood but do absolutely nothing for underfunded schools.

I know you hate me when you try to keep me from voting.

I know you hate me when you tell me I’m too loud, angry, or black.

I know you hate me when when you claim you’re entirely innocent of your grandparents’ efforts to halt desegregation.

I know you don’t love me because you’re already writing a comment to tell me about how this doesn’t apply to you and #NotAllWhiteChristians

I am a black woman in America: your white Christian hatred is as plain as the day you donned white hoods.

I tell you the truth, Whatever you did to the least of these you did to me.

Can I let you in on a little secret? However you feel about Michael Brown, alleged thief, alleged thug, alleged “Black Life Doesn’t Matter”, that’s how you feel about Jesus.

You see, Dear White Christian, your love for the Lord is permanently capped at the amount of love you have for the people in society who you like the very least.

For you, Dear White Christian? Your love for the Lord is capped at the amount of love you have for Michael Brown.

You can never love God more than you love your black brother or sister. It’s simply impossible. You can’t put two gallons of water in a one gallon bucket, and in the same way you can’t love God more than you love Michael Brown. It doesn’t work that way. The dimensions of your love for God are only as big as the dimensions of your love for Michael Brown. Alleged thief. Alleged thug. Alleged Black Life Doesn’t Matter.

When someone tells you you hurt them, you don’t get to decide that you didn’t.

Dear White evangelical Christians,

I see your sheer disdain for my existence as you force a smile across your face on Sunday morning. I am a constant reminder that that past is never fully in the past. The white-on-black wrongs of the past and the present must be corrected before America gets the right to move on. That the shame you claim you don’t feel because you’ve “never owned any slaves” is a rot in the gut of this nation that you refuse to remedy.

The hand cannot say to the foot, I don’t need you.

I hear you constantly telling me how I need to behave if I want to be allowed to exist. White mainline Christians mostly silent in the face of racism, much as you were when the police turned a blind eye to the weekly lynchings across this “great” country.

Good intentions do not negate harm caused.

Evangelical Christians, I learned this lesson from you as you scorned the poor and castigated the single mother while Democrats were (sometimes) trying (and often failing) to help. Your intentions are meaningless because they don’t negate harm caused.

If I meant to back out of your driveway safely, and I accidentally ran over your child in the process, my intentions are meaningless in the face of your suffering.

Yet this callous indifference and outright disdain is how I see white Christians respond America’s racial history. I see you attempt this every day.

“I didn’t mean to run over you child, therefore the pain you feel is irrelevant.”

Dear White Christians,

That is not how this works. The fact that you don’t know this makes me think you’re not the ones who should be driving the conversation on this topic.

They will know we are evangelicals by our racial hatred. By indifference to suffering. By our refusal to examine systemic causes. By our fragility and constant projection.

You put your ignorance on full display with your insistence that your knowledge of race relations, most of which originates from movies, oral tradition, and talk radio, and none of which originates from actual experiences with black people in black spaces away from your airtight white bubble, is more valuable than people who have lived the very experiences you condemn.

I have more to say on this topic, but for now I will stop here. If what I said makes you uncomfortable, please sit with that discomfort for a while. Do some self-examination. Ask yourself how many people who are directly affected by your opinions about race and racism in the United States have ever invited you into their homes for dinner.

Dear Michael Brown,

I’m sorry. I’m sorry we as a country are so invested in protecting the feelings and spaces of white people that we can’t even have a conversation on how to improve this country. I’m sorry that the American dream wasn’t designed for people who look like you. I’m sorry that this country says one thing and does the complete opposite to black people. This country doesn’t deserve to call itself the greatest when it treats you with disdain.


How Poverty Mocks the Witness of the American Church

I suspect American churches could do a lot to end poverty in America if they wanted to. The question is, why don’t they?

Do some math with me: Let’s say 26 million church attendees every week are able bodied and could do four hours of some kind of service work, be it helping someone with their taxes, playing with kids, building community gardens and playgrounds, repairing siding, replacing a roof, or making sandwiches, offering therapy. Job training, resume workshops, teaching computer skills classes, college essays and applications, all of these are things that the average, middle class, able-bodied, white American sitting in a pew every Sunday could do.

We will round this down to 100,000,000 hours every week. That’s a LOT of work that could go to ending poverty.

If we calculate the value of this work at $10/hour, we come up with $1,000,000,000.00. A week.

It’s fascinating to me that the very people who claim to love their neighbors refuse to serve their neighbors instead of serving themselves. When able bodied people tell me that it’s more honoring to God for them to sit on their butts for a few hours a week than to serve the poor, I have to wonder what kind of God they are serving and what his priorities are.

The automatic response within evangelical thinking (of course) is, “But Jesus said, ‘the poor you will always have with you’ so that means that there is no way to eliminate poverty!”

Yes, Jesus did ostensibly say those words or some equivalent to them. But just because a problem won’t ever entirely go away doesn’t mean you ignore the problem. Jesus could have just as easily said, “Disease you will always have with you until the kingdom of heaven.” In fact, he basically did say that. That doesn’t mean you don’t buy health insurance. That doesn’t mean you don’t take your child to the doctor when she gets ill. To the contrary, it is because sickness is a reality of life on this planet that we in the western world take advantage of modern medicine.

So I must ask: How is poverty any different?

It’s quite odd to me that many of the individuals about whom I am speaking are happy to go to East Africa for missions, but they disparage Chicago for “not caring about black on black crime”

[Helpful hint: Do not — EVER — use the term “black on black crime.” Do NOT. We don’t need your concern trolling and black people have been organizing to fight violence within black communities for decades. Now put your self-selected ignorance away, it’s not a good look. Just because you don’t know about something doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.]

This specific group of ignorant white people could absolutely go to Chicago to serve and alleviate suffering. They could be the ones helping black kids get to school consistently and apply to college. But they don’t. Instead they use Chicago’s tragic violence as a way to silence those who would dare speak out about systemic abuses within the justice system.

So you’ll go to Africa, but you won’t go to the hood? Tell me, what is that about? Because it’s almost like you’ve decided those on the other side of the planet are worth you time, energy, and effort, but those in your own city are somehow unworthy.

This glaring hypocrisy is one of the many things that white Christians could rectify, especially if they are concerned about their dwindling numbers.

(I threw in some links on how many Americans really attend church every Sunday.)

Part of Evangelicalism’s opposition to helping the poor is that most feel being poor is a result of laziness and deserves to be punished. When you attempt to provide data that shows punishment makes it harder for most people to succeed, your personal wealth accumulation is very strongly correlated to your skin color and zip code, Evangelicals will balk. They will say that they don’t agree with those numbers, or they don’t agree with the research method, or “restorative justice is not how they did it in ancient Israel” so it’s off the table.

Modern day Evangelicalism originally rallied around opposing desegregation. It’s very clear where the roots of that tree were planted, and it’s no wonder the fruit is poisoned. But it doesn’t have to be this way!

I would challenge any and all evangelicals to get off your bottoms and get into the city. (Don’t move there. For the love of God, don’t move anywhere.) For 3-4 hours a week, devote yourself to serving your neighbors. Not because you feel sorry for them. But because God gave you the time, the talent, the ability, and the resources. Set aside your prejudiced thinking and your Hollywood-fueled anti-black narratives. Turn off Fox News and have a conversation with someone who doesn’t share your skin color, tax bracket, or political party.

It’s shocking but you might just learn something.

Like, yanno, humility.

Destroying American Mythology, Part I

Ok so I can’t stop listening to Hamilton as I noted previously. I am obsessed. The thing that really chaps my hide this week is the song The Reynolds Pamphlet, which features a refrain with Thomas Jefferson gloating “he ain’t never gonna be president now” because of Hamilton’s affair with James Reynolds’ wife. 
So let’s be clear: Thomas Jefferson was a RAPIST and literally owned, beat, abused, and tortured human beings. (A woman who is owned by a man cannot consent to a sexual relationship. Any sexual encounter when one party has all or most of the power is sexual assault or rape. This is why you cannot have sex with a child. How do so many people so often ignore or deny the existence of power disparities?) If anyone should have been precluded from the presidency on the grounds of sexual impropriety it was Jefferson. Because, rape. 
This country’s founding fathers were hardly people to emulate. The constitution is not an inherently moral or noble document. It was written by evil men. Let’s rid ourselves of the American mythology that excludes the evils and abuses we have committed as a nation and as individuals. Let us view our history with a clear lens. When certain people are legally viewed as “less than” our country cannot make any claims of moral superiority or Christianity. To do so would be to deny reality, to deny history, to deny the facts, to deny the truth. 

And certainly, we can all agree that denying the truth is what got us into the mess that America finds itself in currently.

Before you begin to lecture me about how I should venerate the founders, because without them, I, black woman, would not be here to disassemble this wrongheaded and ignorant notion of American moral superiority, I would remind you that it was black people who forced this nation to live up to its own ideals as listed in the constitution. It was black people who demanded that “all men were created” include ALL men AND women, not just wealthy, landowning, white men. I would remind you that the dream of America was withheld from 60% of those born on its shores for CENTURIES. I would remind you that just because you claim to secure the blessings of liberty doesn’t mean that you feel compelled to see them equally applied.

The dreams and ideals of the founders were espoused but never implemented. They were dangled far out of reach of poor white men. They were completely unavailable to women, black people, and Natives. In fact, the ideals of freedom were the cruelest form of mockery and hypocrisy: a freedom set aside exclusively for those equipped with a low melanin count, a large bank account, and a questionable sperm count.

I will leave you with a quote that is especially applicable. 

I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually. 

– James A. Baldwin

Trump’s Great White America

I want to be perfectly clear that none of these words are mine. They all came from professor Crystal Fleming’s Twitter account @alwaystheself on October 16, 2016. I made two minor edits so that it makes a little more sense for my audience and added some punctuation. But it was such a spectacular explanation that I felt compelled to transcribe it for my readers. Thank you for understanding. 
From Professor Crystal Fleming
Trump’s candidacy has helped me better understand his… supporters’ critique of (and anger about) “political correctness.”

The other day, I heard an NPR podcast about politics where a white woman broke down in tears of joy and relief listening to Trump. She said she was crying because Trump was speaking out about political correctness – something she’s been angry about for decades. I was stupefied to head an adult woman crying tears of joy for an avowed misogynist but she is a white woman in post civil rights America. What I understood more deeply is the reality of what it means to be a racist in the US after the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement.

The reality is that white-male supremacy was the literal law of the land for centuries. It’s foundational to the [America Experiment.] The result is that we have generations of white people who were socialized to believe that what we now call racism is just “the way it is.” These people, and their parents, and their grandparents before them were taught by all of the nation’s major institutions that whites are superior. Further, they inherited a culture that openly and proudly tortured and denigrated black for centuries. The word “openly” is important here. For centuries, the political and economic leadership of the U.S. was openly and explicitly and officially white-male supremacist. And while they were disadvantaged by certain aspects of white-male supremacy, white women also participated in the oppression of non-whites. Except they weren’t taught that slavery, or lynching, Jim Crow or discrimination were oppression. The nation framed these things as moral.

The end of the Civil War highlighted the contrast between the nation’s superficial racial liberation and its ongoing white supremacy. The southern states that supported slavery were told – by the same nation that legalized slavery – their “way of life” was now “immoral.” Meanwhile the same nation that claimed to be racially liberal by “ending” slavery actually perpetuated it through prisons.

So you have this deeply hypocritical situation, in which the racist values of the nation were superficially disavowed but maintained in fact. As all this unfolds, white racial attitudes liberalize somewhat, but not drastically. And the power structure remains white supremacist. Social norms have shifted such being “openly” racist is increasingly stigmatized but the nation remains systemically racist

So let’s return to the white female Trump supporter who broke out in tears listening to him rage against “political correctness.” She’s emotionally reacting to a sense of betrayal by her country. A country that officially and proudly oppressed non-whites for centuries. She’s reacting to the hypocrisy of a nation that pretends to be liberal when “everyone knows” white supremacist values are still dominate. She’s reacting to the hypocrisy of white supremacist Democrats and liberal elites who blame poor and working class whites for racism. She’s crying because someone (finally!) is once against telling the truth about this country — about its values and her values.

While she probably couldn’t articulate it in these terms, she’s crying because deep down she knows Trump really does represent this country.She’s tired of hearing politicians pretend to not be the racists that they actually are. She’s relieved to hear someone “tell it like it is.” Political correctness is the trope that allows white elites (liberal and conservative) to pretend to not oppress the people they oppress. While the woman surely has no critique of oppression, she knows intuitively that the language of political correctness doesn’t match reality.

The political reality that Trump has so brazenly and successfully tapped into is that this country 1) is racist and 2) belongs to white people. Not to mention the associated truths — that the nation is also fundamentally sexist and that it especially belongs to white men.

In any case, millions of white people are crying and raging because their country lied about itself when it pretended to liberalize. They feel betrayed by a nation that built its economy and culture on anti-black white supremacy but then progressively said “Never mind.” The reality is you can’t build a nation on white-supremacist ideology and violence for centuries, then turn around and say, “Well, actually…”

This contrast between political correctness and political reality will continue to enrage — not only racists but also victims of racism.

Dr. Crystal Fleming

October 16, 2016

Please Stop Talking Sh*t About Millennials


Dear everyone,

Pardon the cuss but I’m tired. Tired of being told how lazy, entitled, and fragile I am. But it seems like some of you cannot get enough of talking about how terrible my generation is. So maybe you need a reality check. I’m happy to provide one.

I am a 31-year-old wife and mom of two. My husband works two jobs so that I can go to school. (I couldn’t afford college a decade ago.) We are very modestly middle class. Currently, no one pays our bills for us, but if someone did I’d be grateful. We rent a house from a family member. We have a small savings account and try to live within our means. We will barely scrape into the 50th percentile this year, despite the fact that my husband spent most of the year working 80 hours a week. Forty hours Monday through Thursday, 40 hours Friday through Saturday.

When I was in my early 20s, I worked 50 hours a week and could barely afford gas to get to my workplace. When I lost my job in 2010, my credit cratered. No one bailed me out or paid my bills. I got by on the generosity of a few friends and couch surfed until I was employed again.

Did I ruin the economy by creating worthless “investments”? No. Did I drive the cost of housing up by engaging in predatory lending? Wasn’t me. Did I protest war and then complain when my kids protest police brutality? Nah.

Newsflash. There are entitled Millennials. There are also self-absorbed Gen X-ers and, *gasp*, greedy Baby Boomers. But Millennials weren’t raised by wolves. Most of us were raised by Baby Boomers. The same Baby Boomers who set up automatic monthly deposits into their adult children’s checking accounts.

At least 40% of Millennials get help from their parents for every day expenses. That’s great for them. I’d love help paying down debt. Having someone pay for my college when I was actually college age would have been even better. But that wasn’t my reality.

So next time you want to complain about how entitled and fragile we Millennials are, why don’t you get out of your elitist bubble and talk to some of us working class Millennials. Talk to minority Millennials who work extra hours to bail their parents out rather than being bailed out themselves.

Working class Millennials exist. And the fact you don’t see us says more about you than it does about Millennials.

photo credit — wsj

Anxiety & My Real Life

I see the whole world as a big puzzle. And I am always busy putting the pieces together. This, I suspect, is why I am doing well in biology despite never having been encouraged toward any science in my life. It is also why I suspect that the conflict between my personality and my environment growing up might play a role in my anxiety.

In the last 24 hours, I finally found the courage to admit that I don’t make the rules in my life. My anxiety makes the rules. I can only physically do what my anxiety allows. This is usually the bare minimum. My anxiety turns my thought processes into white noise mid-sentence. It obliterates my productivity and then castigates me for being lazy.

Despite my sincerest, most well-intentioned efforts, I cannot take it anymore. I’m waving the white flag. I made an appointment with my doctor. We’re going to discuss options. Options that have, until now, been completely off the table. I went out and spent hundreds of dollars on a double stroller so I could go outside and get exercise. You know, beat my anxiety the natural way. I LOVE walking, running, just being outside. But I’m too anxious and overwhelmed to pack the dang thing up and carry it out the door. Never mind load up two kids.

I get so anxious that my mind shuts down and forces me to forget things. Like the fact that I have a luxury stroller getting ZERO use. I walk right past the stupid thing every day and I don’t even think about it. It’s a survival mechanism. Likely something I picked up from before I was even old enough for school.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been anxious. The first time I had a panic attack wasn’t until I was an adult, most likely because my childhood was largely uneventful. But my normal tic is to pull out my hair. I know, it’s disgusting. I’ve been working on it but I still do it way too often. I’ll probably be pulling my hair out until I don’t have anymore. That makes me sad.

I first remember feeling anxiety when I left for college at 18. Thanks in large part to being taught exclusively at home, I’d rarely been allowed to do much of anything outside church. The freedom of being at college was overwhelming. Needless to say, I didn’t exactly thrive in an environment where what I needed was discipline but what I had was limitless choices. When I was cleaning up my dorm to move out, I pulled almost a plastic shopping bag full of hair out from under my desk. It’s ok if that makes you cringe. It’s gross. It’s also my reality. It’s something I have never addressed.

Then yesterday, someone told me about postpartum anxiety and I thought to myself, “That’s a thing?” Followed immediately by, “Obviously that’s a thing because I HAVE IT.” Maybe I don’t clinically have PPA but I know myself well enough to know that this is escalated anxiety. It’s been nine months, and I can’t do it anymore. So maybe we will find a solution for this. Maybe we won’t. I’m old enough to know there are no solutions. Only trade offs. That is to say, I am not getting my hopes up that there is some magic bullet out there. But things cannot stay the way they are.



Everyone smiling! When does that even happen?


Love this little man. He had a tough time being away from home for so many day but eventually he adjusted.


Jack Jack meeting Grandma Jean’s dog, Moose, again. He was terrified at first, but he warmed up pretty quickly.


We got to go to Seattle for Bobbie’s baby shower! So much fun.


Taylor and Jack at the shower.


Souvonnah and Jack.


Getting any pics of D can be difficult. He’s like his daddy-guy. No pictures, please.

Changes and Updates

There are so many things that I want to remember from this time in our family. I feel like this year has been a blur. I don’t remember much of anything from the spring or early summer and that bothers me. So here I am.

I don’t worship busyness. In fact, I hate being busy. My dream is to be not busy with my not busy friends and my not busy husband so that we can go out for yoga or drinks or a run every evening and be in bed by 9:30. I don’t say I’m so busy to brag. Busyness is not a goal with pursuing.

But I AM SO BUSY. And tired. So tired that I don’t even recognize not tired anymore. Tired is my normal. Getting up before 6 is my normal. Nursing eight times a night is my normal! It’s just a busy season and that’s ok.

School started the last week of September. At first I was seriously questioning my decision to go back full time. I felt overwhelmed with assignments all over the place, due all different days of the week, running around trying to get the boys to daycare so I could study (I should be studying now!) and their anxiety about being away from home so much when we spent the whole summer doing nothing and seeing almost no one. It was a hard transition for all of us.

But I feel so much personal fulfillment going back to school. I’m back at it, pursing my undergrad work that I should have completed a decade ago. I should have gone back sooner. I love my kids. I sincerely thought I’d be a homeschooling mom of 4-6 kids for basically my entire adult life. Now I don’t know what I was thinking or why I wanted that. There’s definitely a part of me that still wants it, honestly, but I am not cut out for it. At all. It’s been a long time since I felt like I was thriving and growing and being challenged all at once and school does that for me.

My faith is in a really rocky place right now. I don’t know what I believe anymore. I understand Jesus was a historical figure and he claimed to be God and I don’t take that lightly. But I struggle with the concept of hell. I’m reminded of that verse where Jesus says about feeding your kids, “If you being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more does your Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” A good father would never take a blowtorch to his child for breaking a rule. But God, who is a good Father, is going to burn people at the stake – even those who never got a copy of the rule book – FOREVER, for breaking the rules? I can’t handle that right now. #sorrynotsorry

We quit going to church. Nano works on Sundays. He has all year. I took the boys by myself all year. But now I can’t swing it. Dillinger (3) has a hard time being away from home. The kid is a serious introvert. He loves nothing more than to play in his room with the door shut all day long. (Well, he might love snacks more. But nothing else.) Trying to work up the emotional energy to get him out of the house every day of the week is too much for me right now. And I also I love him and give a shit about his emotional state. So church is off limits for us right now. Maybe we will go again in the near future. Maybe it will be a while. I don’t know. I still believe church is important, despite all my struggles.

Jack is almost nine months. He’s such a joy. Like I said, the first part of this year was a blur. He was born in February. The first month was decent but by March everything sort of descended into darkness and chaos and survival. The only thing I remember all spring is sobbing on the kitchen floor at 1 am because I was so tired it felt like I was going to die and I had the worst case of insomnia ever. I have no idea when this happened but it is literally my only conscious memory from the first half of the year and it was horrific.

I’m currently working on seeing if I have ADHD. The symptoms of adult ADHD for women sound like every moment of my life so I am seeing a doctor about potentially getting diagnosed. She’s hesitant to diagnose me right now simply because I am nine months postpartum and getting very little sleep and generally on edge about everything all the time. Probably wise on her part to not just to medical conclusions when my entire life is tumultuous and that can’t be sorted out from my complete inability to focus.

I beat myself up for everything all the time. My inner voice is a verbal slave driver. Making dinner sounds completely overwhelming so I usually don’t do it. Of course, I intend to, so I pull out meat and then leave it in the fridge with the best of intentions until it goes bad. I’m not ok with being this way if I don’t have to be. There are no ADHD medications that are safe for breastfeeding so it could be another year before I can actually try one. I’m ok with that. As long as I have a time frame, I can power through. I’ve made it this far, haven’t I?

xo, Tor


Got to model for a friend on Sauvie Island at the end of September!



Bought a jogging stroller. I know running helps my sanity. I’m out of shape so I definitely don’t run right now, but I have found an hour long walk with the boys works too.




Took the boys to Fir Point Farms to get pumpkins. Dillinger ran around quoting Curious George Halloween Boo Fest from memory and we basically had to drag him away. (Well, we bribed him with a donut.)




This is one of the few things I can remember this year. Lots of bath time. The boys both love the water just like their dad.


Pro tip: do not try to buy a house when you’re studying for midterms. Hashtag mom bod 🙂
Ok, now I have to get back to homework. For real.

Dr. Carson, It’s Time To Have A Talk

Oh my, Ben Carson. Where to begin?


I’ll start with what I believe is his take.


Yes, Dr. Carson. Our brains absolutely make us who we are. You know that better than any of us but it’s also scientific fact that the rest of us can agree with.


That doesn’t change the fact that science proves we unconsciously group each other according to appearance and behavior and make decisions based on those biases.


Carson got a roaring cheer when he said it was time to move past race. In a way, he is right. We should have moved past race in 1865. But we didn’t. Those in power dug their feet in, and made everything about race for black and Native Americans, specifically. (And all minorities in some way or another.) So Dr. Carson’s arguments were seemingly addressed to the wrong people. White supremacy made this about race. Black Americans did not have the collective power as an oppressed and marginalized people to make race an issue.


Of the cheering conservatives in the crowd, clapping for Dr. Carson, there were surely several camps which I will attempt to roughly outline here.


The first group was comprised of people who legitimately believe that individual humans should be judged on their character and merit, nothing more. They don’t judge those who do not look like them based on any other factor like dress, appearance, success or lack thereof, name, past encounters with people of that particular race or similarity of lifestyle. All that matters is character. They may slow down or wait if they see a police officer has pulled over a black person. Even if they don’t necessarily see a larger, systemic problem, they believe their individual black friends when they speak about experiencing discrimination.


Group one cheered because they value people for their minds and don’t see skin color as a horoscope for predicting behavior.


The second, likely much larger, group was comprised of people who strongly believe that people should be judged on their character and merit. Yet they conflate character and merit with dress, appearance, success or lack thereof, name, past encounters with people of that particular race and dissimilarity of lifestyle with merit and character. They do not differentiate between character and stereotype, past experiences, racially biased news stories. Their belief in their own non-racism is sincere. They’ve simply boiled race down to a list of attributes and then make race-wide judgments based on their disapproval of those attributes.


Group two cheered because they [believe they] judge people on merit and that means we don’t need to ever mention race. Also, a black guy said it was so.


Maybe the largest group was people who believe it’s time to move past the topic of race because there isn’t a reason to bring it up. It doesn’t affect their lives, so why should they want to talk about it? The system works for them, and complainers need to get over it and get a job. It should be noted that said complainers won’t be employed by anyone in this group because a resume that reads D’Shawn Jones isn’t going to get a call back for an interview. D’Shawn should get a job SOMEWHERE. They don’t care where. Nor do they care if D’Shawn can afford to make ends meet. It’s not their problem.


While they don’t believe race should be brought up, they can quote black crime statistics from memory to win an argument while rejecting the premise that we have a correctional system that all but requires recidivism just to feed yourself. They don’t believe black individuals who tell of being discriminated against because black people can’t be trusted to give an accurate accounting of their own experiences.


Group three cheered because they never saw the need to be talking about race to begin with and now a black guy is telling other black people to shut up. Win-win.


(It should be said that this group overlaps so much with white supremacy that I don’t feel the need to break out a fourth group.)


Unfortunately, the first group doesn’t often call out those in the second and third groups. I assume this is because they believe everyone is in their group. This is troublesome because the first group is the only group that can make any headway with the others on the topic of race. They won’t listen to black people, not because of racism because “stereotype exist for a reason” and or negative experiences. Groups two and three also won’t listen to progressives, because progressives are trying to destroy the country. (Their words, not mine.)


So while I get what Dr. Carson was trying to say, it’s entirely out of touch. His statement made me sick to my stomach. However, as someone who has devoted his life to a singular and noble cause, I understand that he hasn’t had the time to research the societal, historical, and unconscious biases that reinforce racism every day. However, I do not forgive his statement saying that we should not let black people “divide” and “destroy” the country. It’s obscene and vile to conflate anyone who shows up for a protest with rioters and looters, some of whom faced higher bail than the officers who allegedly killed Freddy Gray.


And while I understand why people of varying perspectives cheered for his point, it allows us to dodge an issue that the majority of black Americans feel needs to be addressed. That issue being the fact that systems of power, local government, policing and corrections were designed to oppress black and brown humans and those systems need to be dismantled and entirely reengineered. If you truly believe that individuals should be judged on their merit, then you would take them at their word when they say we need to talk before we can move on.

Privilege, power & my sons

I wish I could record every word that this little boy says to me. All of it. I want to remember all the cute little ways that he mispronounces thing and how he uses words that are just way too big for anyone his age to even be thinking about  let alone repeating. I want to remember all of the good times. I want to remember all the times that I was up for two or three hours trying to get both of the boys to sleep in the middle of the night. I want to remember the times that I didn’t hug him fiercely enough. I want to remember the times when I was annoyed that he got hurt again. I want to remember how I raised my voice when I didn’t need to. I want to remember how I made him cry because I couldn’t manage my own frustration.

Photo on 7-10-15 at 8.55 PM

I want to remember the good and the bad and the ugly. I want to remember it because this is the story of us and I need to own it. It’s the story of his childhood and of my redemption. I want to be able to track the healing and the growth and the movement and I never want to forget any of it.

They say breaking occurs in a moment but healing can take a lifetime. I am in it for the long haul. I don’t know if I will ever feel whole and that’s ok. The ugly places, the scars make us stronger… if we are willing to own them.


I want to remember the beauty of a little boy who felt no fear with his parents. Who wasn’t afraid to raise his voice for what he wanted, even when it put us out or required us to create even firmer boundaries. The time when he was wholly himself — uninhibited and unafraid.

My son may grow up fairly privileged. It’s hard to say. But the world is still a largely cruel place for those who aren’t in positions of power, and especially for children. I don’t know where he will land as an adult. I don’t know if he will climb over the powerless in a desperate attempt to claw his way to the top or if he will reach down and help others secure their footing and maintain some semblance of hope.


I cannot control his outcomes but I hope he reaches down.


I am going to tell him to value voices different than his own. to value the voices that are often considered unheard. I’m going to tell him to be a listener and not to assume that he knows what someone else’s experiences just because he seen a whitewashed vision of it on television.

I am going to tell him that if a black mother runs frantically into the ER with her baby and a raised voice, that he should not assume she’s overreacting when the child looks fine. I’m going to tell him that the mother who once slipped past a border fence cares just as much or more about her child’s education as the woman on the Upper East Side to put down a $20,000 deposit for her child’s preschool program three years ahead of time.

I am going to tell him when his gay friend is being bullied, he shouldn’t have to think about whose side to take. And that he sure the hell should not stay silent.


I’m going to tell him that the people this country keeps locked up in cages are just as valuable as those whose lives they sought to destroy. I’m going to tell him that young men of the Islamic State plotting heinous executions are no different than his countrymen who posed for pictures beside the charred bodies of “niggers who had it coming.”

I am going there will always been men in power who torture and oppress because the oppressed were a threat to their identity and their way of life. Because they are afraid. And that many of these oppressed and tortured people are hidden away in factories on the other side of the planet making his shoes and gaming systems but not a living or a life.

I’m going to tell him that when someone with all of the money and all the guns declares certain people to be “bad”, he should be inclined to listen – truly listen – to those without any power. That those who get to write the entire narrative without anyone correcting them have no motivation to give an evenhanded account.

But because I am planning on telling him all of this I have to model it — I have to listen to him. I have to remember every single word that he says. I cannot expect him to listen to the voices of oppressed people if I don’t even listen to his voice when he is two years old and completely powerless.

So I want to remember every single word that he says. How he excitedly mispronounces delicious as “bah-WISH-us!” How he says “afraiding” instead of “scaring.” How he is convinced that he isn’t tired at 10:30 at night when I still have an hour’s worth of homework.

If we want our children to listen to those in the margins, I am convinced we have start at home.


Yesterday was the first time I had been to church in… a while. Probably since July. The whole church thing is up in the air for us and we don’t know where we are going to land. Plus church hunting is freaking exhausting, never mind throwing a toddler into the mix.

As I sat my pregnant tailbone on the wooden pew, I have to admit I was not expecting much. Which, of course, is when God slaps you upside the head. With the truth. In love. But still… That’s when he so often gets your attention!


The pastor told a story about his daughters growing up. I will try to recount it as best I can.

“When my daughters were little we didn’t have a ton of rules. But we did have one rule — we made Mother’s Day a big deal… Because they were too young to drive, I would take my girls to the store.They would go and select items for their mom and then we would get to the check out. Since they didn’t have bank accounts or credit cards yet my daughters had no way to pay these items they wanted to buy. But I asked them to buy things for their mom, so I would pay.

What I required of my children I also provided for them. That’s how God is with us.

What God requires of us he also provides for us.

God’s motivation is not external.
He works primarily – sometimes almost exclusively! – on our hearts.
(Extrinsic motivation usually only works until the reward or punishment is taken away.)
He does not require immediate obedience with a happy heart.
For years and years and years while we struggle and grow.
In his grace, he even allows us to skip out on even natural consequences.
Our JOY is found IN HIM.

This was incredibly eye opening for me as I sat and related it to parenting.

This is what I want to model my parenting after.
To provide my son everything he needs in order to do what I ask.
To call upon patience when my requests aren’t answered quickly or at all.
To be more concerned with his heart than his behavior.
To represent joy. Not a to-do list. Not consequences. Not punishment. Not boredom. Not a chore.

Right now this feels scattered. I’m not sure how exactly it will apply to real life toddler scenarios of “No! No! No!” and two-hour long bedtime battles. But I’m sure together we will figure it out.

Have you ever realized that you hadn’t provided what your child needed in order to do what you asked? I’d love to hear about it! Feel free to leave a comment 🙂