Posts tagged ‘social justice’
friend sixty-one, “beth prentiss,” is hard to write about. she’s someone i’ve always thought is really awesome and smart, but who i’ve also been pretty intimidated by. we went to new college together and she was a very vocal and fierce feminist, and as a shy, awkward, uncertain feminist, i was afraid of doing or saying things that were somehow unfeminist around her, especially because she was really pretty and i could barely handle myself around pretty peers.
one of the themes of many of these posts is how much i’d like to interact with the people i used to be somewhat intimidated by because i think i’d do a better job of actually talking to them, because i finally regard myself as equally human. friend sixty-one doesn’t live too far from me, so that makes it more possible than with some other people, i think. but then there’s also this weird fear that i’m just going to blab out all of the ways i’ve ever felt awkward and how glad i am to not feel that awkward, and what kind of conversation is that.
my dream conversation with friend sixty-one would be less about me or how relatively awkward or confident i feel, and more about big global issues as well as our grown-up perspectives on the weird reality that was new college. it also looks like she studied a subject that is currently dear to me, so that could be a good start, too.
a big part of the reason i’d like to be real friends with friend sixty-one is because even though she has an intimidating exterior, sometimes these expressions of sheer delight cross her face and that looks like fun.
friend forty-one, who i will refer to here as “anne brodzky,” is probably one of the sweetest and most thoughtful people on the planet. she’s the quaker woman who runs meridian art gallery with her husband. the art gallery has had amazing exhibits of social justice-related art and also offers internships for low income teens. the building is stunning and when i was trying to work up the motivation to run the young adult quaker group, she offered the space for some of our events. the space is gorgeous, with cozy spots for conversation.
friend forty-one and i met for a conversation at the gallery one morning, to discuss social justice, diversity within quakerism, racism, and all the other big things. i was struck by her energy, passion, and the amount of thought she’s put into all of these big topics. that was 3 or 4 years ago and most of our other conversations have involved me whizzing past her through the meetinghouse, too “busy” to talk again. but i’d like that to change.
quaker meetings in the u.s. tend to be mostly white. there are lots of ideas about why that might be, and i’ve written about it a little bit at my other blog, and mean to write more about it… always. when i first started going to the sf meeting, i really noticed the whiteness. traditionally i’ve not been very good at noticing the whiteness of places, because i’m white and it’s easy for me not to notice. my college was mostly white and it took me years to figure that out. but i moved to the bay area fresh from attempts at trying to raise consciousness around diversity in another primarily white environment, olympia. so when i got to the bay area, which is much less white than olympia or my college, and my faith community was so white, i was aware.
and concerned. and confused. and guilty. and with very few answers.
when i’m new somewhere, i spend a lot of time scoping out the lay of the land. i talk and i listen but i don’t act. sometimes i never act.
but then came friend twenty-two. as a young trans-racial adoptee, friend twenty-two had lots to say about the whiteness of the quaker meeting. she made a lot of us uncomfortable with her seeking questions, but in general, i found her perseverance refreshing. okay, sometimes i was annoyed because my comfort was being disrupted and my new chosen community was being looked at with a very critical eye. but it felt like what was needed, because i didn’t feel well-informed (about race or quakerism) or brave enough to be so vocal.
also, as a young person, friend twenty-two was figuring out a lot of things about herself, as we all are, and eventually she stopped coming to meeting. she was going to move away but if i’m correct, then there was a boy… and now, excitingly, there is a baby, too! i’m so excited about the baby and friend twenty-two and i speak about getting together. but this whole being a grown-up business makes it hard.
today is friend eleven’s birthday! that wasn’t intentional for this post, but i like it. (i found out from facebook.)
friend eleven, who i will refer to here as alex, has a big-eyed thoughtful sense of wonder. this is not to say that she is naive at all. a world traveler and social justice activist, she does impressive things like volunteers to teach one language at san quentin while at the same time learning another. with kids, she’s patient and silly, and she’s not a bit self-righteous, with a warm smile and a fantastic laugh of true delight which both come out in most conversations.
the arc of our friendship has been somewhat choppy. we met working at a summer camp together, attempting to lead a conversation about social justice at my apartment, but no one came. we had lots of thoughtful things to say to each other in preparation and we made grand plans to keep talking about important things. and, in the way of life, there were facebook messages, a year passed, she went to egypt, and then we ran into each other shortly after she got back. “we should hang out!” “yes!” “yes!” ages later, right around last christmas, we got together at a coffeehouse, chattering like mad, sharing desserty breakfasts. five short months later, she came to my birthday, and then only 2 months later, we got together again, at the same coffeehouse as before (it’s right by where she lives, so i think of it as “the great place where we hang out,” while to her it’s “the coffeehouse by my house that i hope you don’t mind we go to.”).
i was super happy when she came to my birthday party. when she said she was actually coming, i excitedly told trisha, saying, “you’ll really like her, too, i think.” she’s one of those people who i’d love to be bff’s with because she has such positive energy and she gets me talking and thinking about really important things. the bay area though has this thing where it can seem like an epic journey to cross the bay, and her life in sf seems so far from my east bay life. our coffeehouse chats will probably always be few and far between. but i think we might be on a little bit of a roll here and might actually see each other a few times a year. that’ll be nice.