Wednesday, September 27, 2017

You Can't Be an Ally Unless You're Willing to Own Your Failures

Okay, listen up fellow white people, we need to talk.

White people seem to bounce erratically between two equally problematic ways of engaging with race: 

1. Doing Something Problematic and Refusing to Take Correction From People of Color Who Call You On It 

This is easy to recognize in non-allies. Wow, what a racist, we think when the Tami Laurens of the world plug their ears and yell "nah nah nah I can't hear you I'm not racist I just think all lives nah nah nah nah nah."

But all too often, liberal, progressive white "allies" will do the same thing. I believe in racial equality, but I think this is taking it a little too far, we say as soon as we're criticized. (Has anti-racism gone too far now that it specifically calls me out???) I can't be a racist, I have "intersectional feminist" in my Twitter bio, we say as we ignore the needs of women of color. I even donated to Black Lives Matter/have a "Coexist" bumper sticker on my car/attended a Muslim ban protest.

Guess what, white liberal? You — yes, you — will do something racist. You will be out there, trying your best to be a good ally, and you will eff. things. up. It's going to happen. And if you're lucky, some person of color will call you on it. They'll take time out of their lives and their struggle to offer you some free advice on how to be a better, less racist person.

And all too often, you'll toss that advice right in the trash and whitewash the entire cause you think you're supporting.

My American Heritage professor used this clip to illustrate the following point: no matter how good your intentions are, intentions are not outcomes. And outcomes, not intentions, are what harm people of color.

So no matter how good your intentions are, you are going to screw up and do something racist. I might even be doing it right now; I have good intentions with this blog post, but given Seinfeld's track record on race, it's totally possible that this clip might be problematic and totally tone deaf to share in a post about race and racism. (Please let me know if it is).

And here's the thing: if you ignore people of color when they call you on your shit, at least in this regard, you and Tammison Lohreyn are the same. Both of you are going to continue to do racist things, leading to problematic outcomes that affect people of color, because both of you are too d*ng proud to listen to people of color when they say things. Both of you somehow think your white ass is more qualified to judge what is and isn't racist or problematic than the people you are causing problems for.

So when you get called out, listen, learn, accept it, and move on. Do better.

2. Refusing to Do Anything Unless a Person of Color Holds Your Hand Every Step of the Way and Gives You a Magic Formula to Avoid Screwups In Every Future Interaction With Non-White People Ever


In some ways, this is the antithesis of the first problem. Whereas in the previous situation, you were overly brash and insensitive, now you're so timid and sensitive that you can't make any mistakes because you won't do anything at all.

This is problematic for a couple of reasons. The first, and most obvious, is that refusing to do anything means that you do nothing, which means that you sit back in your white privilege and make people of color do all the work to fix the system you're benefiting from.

The second issue is that in addition to leaving all the work to people of color, you're actually creating more work for them. Now they have to validate and coach you through every interaction, instead of using your common h*cking sense. You can treat people of color as humans without step-by-step instructions. You may not believe it, but I promise you, it's possible. Give it a try sometime.

Furthermore, this often leads to situations where white allies tokenize people of color. It becomes tempting, when in this mindset, to ask the nearest person of color to rule on any given issue of race and racism, which immediately puts them in the stressful position of having to give you a perfect magic formula for every situation you'll encounter for the rest of your life. Because they know that as soon as they tell you what to do, you're gonna circle right back around to position number one. (But what I just did can't be racist because my black friend said it's okay...)

White people: do not put people of color on the spot and ask them to give you magic anti-racism formulas! By all means, listen when they tell you things. Actively seek out their opinions. Find more opportunities to learn from them. Listen when they tell other people things and apply that to your own life. But don't expect people of color to be able to teach you enough to stop you from ever effing up. Nobody can teach us white people to never screw up. It's literally impossible, even for Morgan Freeman.

So even though this second situation may seem like the opposite of the first situation, they're both rooted in the same thing: a fear of failure. An unwillingness to engage the work without being called out on our racism. An unwillingness to admit to ourselves that we're racist, or put ourselves in a situation where we have to see our own racism.

Refusing to Learn From Your Racism Makes You A Worse Person Than Just Being Racist


Here's where I think this fear of failure comes from: from the time we're kids, we learn racism is bad. Only bad people are racist. And you, of course, are a good person, t h e r e f o r e, you cannot be racist. To admit that you have done a racist thing, held a racist belief, or otherwise been problematic about race is to admit that you are a bad person, and your whole worldview about yourself comes crashing down.

But here's the thing: plugging your ears and yelling "nah nah nah I'm a good person nah nah nah also my name is Tomi not Tami nah nah nah nah" doesn't make those racist attitudes of yours go away. In fact, it guarantees that they'll never go away, ever.

We're all a little racist. But being willing to face up to that fact is the only way we can check ourselves before we wreck ourselves and become a little less racist, one cringey mistake at a time.

So, my fellow white people, don't tokenize people of color. Don't put them on the spot and make them a de facto panelist on your conversation about race. Don't expect them to hand you a magic formula that will absolve you of all past and future racism. 

Do learn to admit when you're wrong. Do apologize and try to be better.. And do listen when people of color say things, and be sensitive to when they don't want to be saying anything at all.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Baby Protein Bowls

Hello, and welcome to the second installment of Jaclyn Dabbles In Pretentious Mommy Blogging™.

I made mjadara recently, and Zoë seemed to really enjoy the bite I gave her. Lentils are a great source of potassium, calcium, zinc, niacin, telepathy powers, vitamin K, dietary fiber, lean protein, laser vision, folate, and iron, so I thought I'd see if I could coerce my little cereal-hater into eating some more. Plus, lentils are a novel texture and taste for babies who are ready for slightly chunkier solid food, without posing a choking hazard.


1/4 cup lentils
2 cups water
3 tbsp butter
4 oz jar of vegetable baby food

  1.  In a small pot, combine the lentils and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.
  2. Drain any excess water.
  3. Add the butter and stir until melted. (Saturated fats are actually really good for babies, but if you're morally opposed to butter and happiness in general, I suppose you could substitute olive oil or something).
  4. Add a jar of your baby's favorite flavor of vegetables. (I used sweet potatoes, because
    Zoë has no sympathy for the fact that sweet potatoes smell like someone stirred brown sugar into day-old vomit).
  5. Separate into fourish portions, and store in the refrigerator or freezer until use.
Zoë kept grabbing at the spoon and insisting on feeding herself, so I'd say the recipe was a success.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Baby Berry Bites

Shortly after buying a brand-new extra large container of infant cereal for Zoë, she decided that she didn't want to eat it anymore. Fruit was fine, vegetables were fine, and all sorts of grain-based baby snacks were fine, but infant cereal was out.

The Internets told me that this was fine, because infant cereal for babies is apparently a Big Agro conspiracy and you should really be feeding your babies raw liver. (Please, for the love of all that is holy, do not feed your babies raw liver, there are like ten thousand things wrong with that and I can't believe I actually have to type this sentence). 

Meanwhile, my pediatrician told me that Zoë needed to be getting half her solid food from infant cereal every day, or else. My pediatrician intimidates me a little bit, so I didn't feel like asking "or else what?".

And Zoë kept telling me that infant cereal was only good for spitting out in order to make high chair fingerpaint art.

I decided to let Zoë eat whatever healthy foods she wanted, so while I would occasionally mix cereal in with her fruit or yogurt, I still had this huge box of infant cereal sitting on my counter that wasn't going anywhere anytime soon. So, based on the popularity of "energy bites" for adults and recent guidelines suggesting that babies should be eating peanut butter as early as four to six months old, I went full Pinterest mom and made a trendy homemade baby food recipe.


1/2 cup infant cereal (I used Gerber Multigrain)
1/2 cup berries (I used a ~medley of raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries, because they had been in my freezer for over a year and I thought I should use them up)
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup Puffs baby snacks, or similar product

  1.  Puree the fruit until smooth
  2. Add the infant cereal and peanut butter; mix until evenly combined
  3. In a Ziploc bag, crush the Puffs into fine crumbs
  4. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper
  5. Roll the dough into small bites (no larger than 1 cm in diameter to minimize the risk of choking)
  6. Coat the dough in the Puffs crumbs, and place on the cookie sheet

  7. Freeze for an hour to set
  8. Store for up to two weeks in the fridge or four months in the freezer. (I made these numbers up. Just, like, don't leave them in your car for a month and decide they're still good to eat. Okay? Okay.) 
They were a little soft, so I'd recommend using a bib for younger or messier eaters. Keep in mind that unlike storebought baby snacks, these aren't designed to dissolve quickly, so make sure your baby is seated and supervised while eating.

Zoë absolutely loved these snacks, and I loved that they're full of iron-fortified grains, healthy fats, and antioxidants. 11/10 would make again.