Your Black Friend

Hello. It’s me Renee, your Black friend.

One thing I liked about the sewing community and my position within, is a feeling that I could show the wider white sewing community that they had something in common with a Black person. That we could be friends, that you would see how I lived and be able to identify with me as a person. After 30 years of practice, I’m an excellent Black friend.

I speak well, I went to college, I’m not outwardly radical in my politics, I date(d) men of all races, I live in multiracial neighborhoods you can feel comfortable going to, I listen to a wide range of music, my parents are professionals, I travel, etc. I do all these things that make me more palatable. First, there is more than one way to be Black. Period. But, more importantly, while all the above things remain true, I stifle myself online and in the world.

What’s happened is, I’ve made myself “the Black friend”. I’m often put in a position to speak for the Black community because I’m THE Black person that people know. But, do I speak? Do I give truthful answers? If I’m being honest, I don’t. Because I’ve learned over the years what it takes to make people comfortable so they continue to accept me professionally and personally.

Let me start by saying some things I hold to be true. The United States of America was founded on white supremacy. The remnants of white supremacy continue to impact the daily way of life for Black people regardless of class every day. I’m lucky (and yes, it’s luck and not just hard work) that gave me the upper middle-class life that I appreciate and enjoy.

Donald J. Trump is a white supremacist. After he won the election with 53% of the white female vote, I stopped trusting random white women. Yes. If I met a new white woman, until they proved otherwise, I assumed they voted for an admitted sexual assaulter that wants to keep the status quo and relative comfort of white supremacy that has benefited his family and friends for generations.

Black Lives Matter.  Black life is not held in the same regard in this country as white lives, never mind white female lives. Every experience in my life has reinforced this.  Being a Black American, never mind of Caribbean parentage, is a balancing act of figuring out who you are and where you fit in.

The racism I experience is the kind of persistent microaggression that chips away at your being on a daily basis. Blessedly, I don’t recall exactly being called a nigger. I have some vague recollection of being called a dirty black bitch in middle school. But for the most part, it’s the small chipping away at my person that keeps me in a constant state of low key stress. Wanting to make sure I act right. That I’m good. That I keep people comfortable because my career and my life require it. And before you think I am overreacting to a life you do not live, please know that you do not get to tell me how to think or feel.

When the riots were in Baltimore in 2015, I worked at a very wealthy private equity fund. Despite being professional staff, I was not one of the many multimillionaires in my office. While the white staffers who lived in Baltimore city limits were being offered places to stay and asked where they could go to be safe, no one asked me. I also lived in Baltimore city. I lived in a transitional neighborhood that experienced crime on a regular basis. I did not live in a waterfront home with kids in private schools and weekend homes in Annapolis. But no one was worried about me because I’m Black. Either I would be safe because I was Black, or there was no need to worry about me, because I wasn’t white. Trust me when I say we slept with one eye open those nights,  our dog in the bed, a baseball bat at my side and a can of bear mace at the ready. I was no more safe than them, but no one ever checked for me.

A former white roommate was house hunting in a predominantly Black, less safe neighborhood. A mutual friend said, “She can’t’ live there as a white woman!” Oh! I didn’t realize that Black women would be safer in a dangerous neighborhood! How silly of me! When in fact most crimes committed to and by Black people are done by other Black people. Somehow her whiteness, her femininity were more at stake than my Blackness and my womanhood.

At my boarding high school, a group of us were watching an international beauty pageant. It took another classmate exclaiming, “She’s very pretty for a Black woman,” for me to understand that I was not pretty because I am Black. When I left and went back to my dorm room embarrassed and emotionally beat the fuck down, it was ME who had to accept her weeping on my floor deep in histrionics apology. When I wasn’t trying to talk to her because I needed to process my own feelings, her sister came to my room and asked why I couldn’t just accept her apology. Then it was a roomful of white women telling me “She didn’t mean it that way”. So I accepted her apology, because I had no choice. I needed to be good to get by.

I was once asked by an older colleague if I knew a family. I didn’t, I asked him why and his face went red. Turns out they were a family his children go to school with. I don’t have kids. I was not an alum of that $50k a year private school. I didn’t live in the same neighborhood as that family. So in a city of 600,000 that’s 60% Black, he thought I might know them.

A few years ago I was with my husband at his federal bar swearing in. One of the men being sworn in worked in my building, went to law school with my husband out-of-state and I knew his boss, who was there, through some charitable work we did together. We talked for several minutes because of all these coincidences. A week later, I walked into the elevator at my office building and there he was! I gave an enthusiastic “Hello!” and received a blank stare just before he turned his eyes back to his screen. I have never felt so invisible in my life. I went back to the office and shared the story with two Black women. They both slowly nodded, knowing that same feeling of being invisible. I told that story to some white women, they suggested he was having an off day, a bad memory or I should have introduced myself to him again. We can accept that women become invisible as they age, but not that Black women are regularly invisible.

This is the kind of racism I experience. It is absolutely not the same experience that Black people in poor and marginalized neighborhoods experience. I’m not over policed. I have access to fresh and healthy food. I can walk to and from my car without worries. My trash gets picked up. My zoned school is a Blue Ribbon school. I’ve always had access to good healthcare. There aren’t men on corners selling drugs or police breaking up gatherings of people talking.  For the most part, my interaction with law enforcement has been pleasant (hey, I’ve even dated a few cops). While I’ve been pulled over (not for speeding) more times that most of my white friends for being in an area known for drug activity, each stop has ended without incident. I do know if I were in a negative situation, I have many resources, contacts and a greater amount of power than most. That’s MY privilege.

No one told me to be nervous around cops. There was no sit down with my parents. Maybe because I’m a woman. Maybe because where my dad came from in Jamaica, the police were a sanctioned hit squad, so not having to directly pay a police officer money seemed like a boon. But, I remember two instances that told me what I needed to know about how to act around police.

When I was a very young child, we were driving in a van through South Carolina (we lived in August, GA at the time). My Jamaican – American father was speeding and got pulled over. The trooper asked my dad to step out of the car. He called him boy. My US Army officer mother got out of the car. The trooper told my dad to tell my mom to get back inside. My dad kept his eyes down, his voice soft. He was given a ticket and we drove off. The car was icy with silence, then later low murmurs between my mom and my dad. I wasn’t more than six or seven, but I’ve always remembered that night.

Later, in high school, my dad and I drove by a young Black man, cuffed and seated on the side of the road with a Maryland police officer talking to him. My dad circled around saying, “I just want to make sure he’s okay.” By his actions, I learned that there was something to be concerned about if you’re Black and the police pull you over.

When I was in a college literature class, we read Barbara Kingsolver’s “Pigs in Heaven” which addresses transracial adoption of a Native American child into a white family. College was the first time there was enough Black people around for me not to be THE Black person. A Black male student said he didn’t agree with cross-racial adoption because “who was going to teach a boy how to be a Black man”. I’ll never forget that.

My very favorite thing though, is being told I’m not Black, particularly by white people. What they are saying is I don’t fit into their ideas of how Black people should be. When pressured, no one wants to admit that it’s because I speak well, or have a professional job or interests outside of hip hop music and club going. What they mean is they’ve decided how Black people should be and are happy I’m not one of them. Because I make them comfortable. You do not get to weigh in on someone’s Blackness.

But, I don’t want to go through the rest of my life making people comfortable. I want to be able to talk freely about these experiences and how they shaped who I am and inform my behavior. I want to address and call people out when I see them acting in a way that reinforces white supremacy and prejudice. I’m frequently afraid that photos of my happiness with my white husband might misconstrue the idea that everything is OK. That we’ve solved racism! We haven’t.

Trena and I both read “Warmth of Other Suns” about the Black migration from the south up north. Trena was amazed at the progress our country had made over the years. I was left with a sense of how bad things still were.

I have dozens more stories like the ones above. If you know me and have followed me over the years, I hope you know my heart and my spirit.  If you’re waiting for things to go back to normal, realize that your normal is a daily emotionally and physically draining hardship to the Black people in this country. So, what am I trying to say here?

  1. Vote Trump Out. He incites people to act on their baser instincts and protect the status quo.
  2. Diversify your social media feed and your life. Accept that people are multidimensional and make an effort to get to know people who aren’t like you. BE UNCOMFORTABLE. Sit with it. Think about why you’re uncomfortable, what it means and where it comes from.  I’ve been to 50 weddings in the last few years between helping a friend who has a photography business and all of Jordan’s friends getting married. Most of them are 99% white. That tells me a lot about the circles people keep.
  3. Your words and actions have power. If you care, please take the time to reflect on what you can do to be anti-racist.

That’s what I wanted to say. I am not okay, but I’m used to it.

— Renee, Your Black Friend

P.S. Gonna keep the comments open.  Honestly, say whatever you feel. I know I have.

P.P.S. Hey everyone, thank you for the dialogue over the past 36 hours. I’m going to close the comments now. I’m moderating another site and busy with work. I’d like to catch up with the comments here and need some time to do so. If you’d like to email me, please do at miss celies pants at Gmail dot com.

239 comments

  1. Renee,
    I’m sorry.
    Your beautifully written piece brings tears to my eyes. I could list all the ways I’m sorry for the state we live in, but you’ve said it perfectly. Thank you – Ellen

  2. Thanks for your comments, Renee. What you say is poignant and true, sad and enraging. America’s Original Sin is in full force in our country. Personally, I’m encouraged at the crowds of protestors. Long may they march! And in huge numbers may we vote for people who have the benefit of a spine and a conscience.

    • Thank you so much for speaking my thoughts, feeling, and experiences into words. It can be a tremendous responsibility to be the black friend.

  3. I’ve enjoyed reading your sewing and knitting posts for years. Thank you for writing this. I am exhausted living as a white Jewish woman in Iowa, and I can’t imagine how much more exhausted you must be.

  4. Oh, sweetie honey. My heart bleeds for you. I pray that those who try to right the many, many wrongs of the White race toward … well, toward pretty much everybody … will succeed in the end. And I pray that the end is not far away.

    And I pledge to do more than just pray. This old White woman will do what she can, here in the middle of North Carolina.

  5. Thanks for your post. I really hope we don’t go back to a “normal” where Black Americans are either dehumanized into racial stereotypes or expected to stifle themselves into a box that is more acceptable to White American audiences. As a white women, there is plenty I can do to vote, diversify my social media feed and my life, and use my words and actions to be anti-racist.

  6. Thank you for taking the time and energy to share your blog post (and post about it on IG). I am committed to all three steps you presented!

  7. I am in tears. My experience since childhood was ” to be nice to others since you do not know who they might know.” Silly, but Mom was at least trying. I grew up Poor, but didn t really know it cause everybody else in my poor neighborhood of very multi race, multi cultural people were also.
    So having said that I have alsways worked, gone to school Multi. I have not faced what you and so many others have faced. I am sorry . My very good friends are of color and I believe that they know how much I love, trust and depend on them.
    Yes Trump is the symbol of all that is wrong in this country and things need to change. Living in my little house in rural Mass. praying each day that somehow something and someone can get things back on track.
    In my sewing world I can find peace with others who just sew and love together. Too bad it can not all be so
    Shalom

  8. Back when I used to sew a lot I followed a wide range of bloggers. Years and years later, I don’t really sew any more but you’re the only sewing blogger I kept following you because I like you. Thank you for sharing – everything you wrote is something we must all grapple with. The white supremacy this country was founded on, the racist president and other political leaders, and the every day acts of racism Black people have to face. Thank you for your post and I really appreciate it and the work you have done. 💜

  9. 💝💝💝💝💝💝💝💝💝💝💖💖💖💖💖💖💖🌺🌺🌺🌺🌺🌺🌺🌺🌺🌺🌺🌺🦋🦋🦋🦋🦋🦋🦋🌸🌸🌸🌸💖💖💖🌺🌺🌺

    If the emoji don’t show up those are rows of hearts and flowers.

    I have quietly read your sewing blog for years without comment and loved it and now send you some of the support and admiration I feel.

    And to all that you have said: Amen.

    One more comment to other women like me who have followed you quietly for years. comments don’t have to be profound or original. It is enough to send hearts or a Amen or any other feeling of support. This blog is a free gift to the world and I sincerely hope the author is OVERWHELMED with expressions of support.

  10. I love that right now so many black voices and perspectives are being shared, and heard. Much of our work (as white people) is to avoid getting fatigued and continue to stay engaged. I appreciate that you wrote this and hope that you can share more of who Renee is vs the Renee that keeps everyone comfy.

    I’ll be over here diagonally across the US doing all the learning I can about how to create the change that has to come.

    With gratitude, Pam

  11. Thank you. I can never know what people of color have to go through, as a privileged white woman. Your words are very powerful and I’m glad to know you. And yes, make sure to VOTE HIM OUT in November, and vote out all those who enable him.

  12. I read this three times. There is nothing I can say that’s more important than your truth, it’s just important to me to hear it and to take every action you listed and not stop there. Thank you.

  13. I am not going to say I understand your situation, because there is no way I could. I am enraged daily by the entire Trump administration as a feminist woman with a moral center, and if we don’t vote him out, we deserve what we get. Maybe the only good thing about this situation is that people everywhere will realize they must vote if they want to have reasonable government. No decision is a decision; no vote is a vote for the other side. And I have never thought of you as my black internet friend. I think of you as a very accomplished sewing blogger that I have followed for quite some time who has graciously shared her life and talents with me. I know it is probably impossible for you to see it after your lifetime of experiences, but all of us are just people, individual people. And I know white people probably deserve it, but I am weary of being classified as representing all white people, including white supremacists. I beg for the forgiveness of people of color everywhere based on my ancestors’s sins, but as an individual, I never get it. All of us must continue to do whatever it takes to get past this. I wish I was there with you so that I could ask you for a hug, Renee. I think I would be very lucky to personally know you.

  14. Renee, you have a way of writing that encourages readers to feel they know you as a friend. The first few times I spoke to you, I probably sounded crazy because I was under the spell of thinking I actually knew you, as opposed to being a reader of your blog! (sorry lol) You know, you have done a lot of good Renee. Between you and my brother-in-law and my therapist and maybe a few other people, I have learned. I mean to be fair, people like me are all starting from a place of good intentions.Then we find out that we actually don’t understand, and then we just try to keep going and reaching new levels of understanding. I feel like this has been going on for years, not just the last few days.

    It was a positive idea that ran its course when you got hurt too many times. I don’t blame you for losing trust in white women, either.

    My profound hope is that our nation is ready to rise and meet the challenge of cleaning up law enforcement and corruption. It feels different this time. We’ll see.

  15. Brava! As long as you want to speak, I’ll listen. Meanwhile, as a white lady of a certain age, I recognize that I need to keep learning, reading, listening, and putting my votes and my dollars in the right place.

  16. You don’t know me. I may have commented a time or two over the years. When the Baltimore riots happened I did think of you, even writing to an online friend how odd it felt to be worried about someone I didn’t know and how I checked your blog multiple times a day until you posted again.

    I feel completely unequipped and inadequate to comment on the current state of our world.

    Your post was heart-wrenching 😞

    I’m sorry ….for everything

  17. I can’t explain how raw and transparent this is. You’ve found the words to express how I feel. Thanks for sharing. Q

  18. Thank you for taking the time to write to your followers and friends. I think you have always been truthful about what you have written: it’s your story to tell. I have followed you for years (blog and IG) and I was drawn in by your name: Miss Celie’s pants. That alone spoke volumes to me. As someone wiser than I said, “I cannot understand your experience, but I can stand with you.”

  19. Thank you for writing all this down and for being so eloquent doing so. It seems this is just the tip of the iceberg of your negative experiences which is incredibly unfair and must have been hard to recount. It means a lot that you did. I really hope we get to meet one day as I’m a long standing fan of you, your humour and your sewing.

  20. Thank you for writing this down and being so eloquent doing so. It seems like this is the tip of the iceberg of negative experiences you’ve faced and must have been hard to recount. I do hope we get to meet one day. I’m a long standing fan of your humour and creativity. And love that you let us glimpse into your busy lovely life on social media

  21. Profoundly said. As an older white woman, who had never met a black person or many people of other cultures, creeds, colours until my mid twenties, I have spent the last 40 years trying my best to learn about others and to understand as best I can their trials and tribulations. My wonderful son in law is black and an amazing person all round, but I was still shocked to hear his stories of racism and discrimination. I naively thought we were better than this in Canada. I am sorry to say it is not so. We have lots of work to do, it seems.
    As your neighbour, we would like to see Trump out as well. It has been incredible stressful to witness his disregard for humanity.
    I enjoy reading about your sewing .
    Take care
    Barb

  22. I’ve followed your blog for years now, although I rarely comment. I’m near tears, as I read this. Your post is one of the most poignant things I’ve read in a long time. I’m Asian Indian. My parents immigrated to the US when I was 7. I was young enough when we moved that I speak accent-less standard American English. So, I’m brown too, but I’m fascinated as to how my ethnicity grants me a pass that it doesn’t grant others more or less brown than I am. I’ve had my moments of experiencing racism, but they’ve been few & far between, fortunately.

    I’ve also had people make racist comments in my presence & then turn around & tell me that they don’t mean me. I guess I also meet their expectations of what a brown immigrant should look like, but I’ve always been aware that I don’t like most of my social group. My parents were physicians & I’m a college educated professional, which probably makes me a safe immigrant. I married a white guy, so that helps whitewash me too, I guess.

    I sincerely hope that the GOP gets booted, but I can’t convince myself that their mindset & views are going way anytime soon. And that breaks my heart.

  23. Well said Renee. On many levels I understand what you are saying; my experiences as a white woman married to a Filipino and a part of a mixed Filipino-Native Alaska community it is the little things and conversations stopping among white folks when I enter a room. But at the same time our experiences are very different and that makes us unique and valued members of society or at least I hope so.
    Bye the way tRump is not my president. I remind people to vote it is our right.

  24. I love how you have clearly articulated your experiences and your expectations from friends! We have a very similar life experience, and I’ve often found myself “explaining” the Black experience. And I’m tired. I consider friendship a sacred thing, and my friends don’t need these explanations. But some of these acquaintances/coworkers need to find someone else to be their safe Black friend. I’m done. Am I open to conversations about race? Absolutely! But it is not my job to educate you as there are plenty of widely accessible resources that provide that service.

  25. Thank you for writing and posting this, Renee. I really appreciate you sharing your experiences and extending your hand of friendship to me over the years. I promise to vote, to listen to as many black voices as I can, and to examine my own racism and privledge and take the initiative to learn as much as I can to be better.

  26. Hey Renee!

    I think that the perversion and massive crime of slavery and genocide were like the seed huge tree of bitter fruit that we all still eat. The white supremacists say it’s sweet.

    I know I’ve benefited from the racist system and still do, but also it robs me of Black friends and colleagues and supports injustice everywhere, making me a part of its immorality. It must be torn apart.

    Thanks for writing.

  27. I get it. I so get it. Thank you for your honesty and your courage to post (not to mention allowing comments!). I’m from the Caribbean, but living in Texas for 20 years with much of the advantages you mentioned and circles of friends and coworkers that really don’t know me. It’s hard to express to someone who hasn’t gone through it, the energy it takes to constantly sanitize your words for white consumption. All the while allowing others to do nothing of the sort (ah yes, another story about racist grandma/dad/in-laws – how terribly original). It is stories like yours that help remind me that I’m not crazy, that these countless, thoughtless (or deliberate) micro aggressions are real, even if they are not the same or as severe as others’ experiences. They have a name, can be acknowledged and are really not ok.

  28. I don’t comment a lot because you already know I’m a fan, but I HAD to say THANK YOU! The chipping away at your soul is exhausting and people don’t seem to understand it. My Jamaican parents did have “The Talk” with me and at the time I thought is ridiculous, but little chip by little chip made me understand it was necessary. Then I felt I needed to have the talk with my own daughter and what no one talks about is how much of a failure you feel in that moment. I kept it together, stressed the importance and then threw up and sobbed on my bathroom floor for an hour. I called my mom after that and told her that I was sorry she needed to do that twice and I’m pretty sure I’m going to have that talk with my grandson so that my daughter doesn’t have to. I too am college educated, “well spoken”, have a professional job, etc, etc. And trying to live while trying to make sure everyone is comfortable all the time, yeah it’s a lot! So, I hear you Sis. Your not alright, I’m not either but I got you!
    ~Renae

  29. I appreciate all your comments and your blog. I will be voting to keep Trump in office. Biden is a lot worse than Trump. Trump has done more to help the Black community than any Democrat has ever done.

    • Brenda, I can’t even imagine what you think Trump has done for Black people. It might have been interesting if you had given an example. He hasn’t done anything for anyone that isn’t white, wealthy, and supporting him in some fashion. Jean

    • I know you are entitled to your vote, I am not trying to change your mind. I’m African American , could you please tell me what you think Trump has done to help the Black community?

      • Education:

        – He increased funding for Historically Black Colleges & Universities by more than 14%, as well as signing legislation forgiving Hurricane Katrina debt for colleges in that area. He also created an executive position in his administration to carry out the initiative. (He also received the Bipartisan Justice Award at Benedict College in South Carolina)
        – He signed legislation that increased funding for school choice by $42 million. Has called on Congress to pass school choice legislation so no child is trapped in a failing school because of their zip code. The tax cut act allows 529 college savings accounts to be used also for elementary and secondary education

        Jobs:

        – As of September 2019, about 85% of the nearly 6 million (at that time) jobs created went to minorities
        – His tax cut legislation included Opportunity Zone Incentives to promote investment in economically distressed communities. 8.764 Opportunity Zones have been created, and are expected to spur $100 billion in long-term private capital investment in these communities
        – Just an FYI – income earners on the bottom 25% have shown a 4.5% increase in income (Nov 2019), compared to a 2.9% increase on higher-paid workers
        – Signed an executive order to expand apprenticeship opportunities for students and existing workers
        (The media will tell you today that Black Americans did not gain jobs, but… https://twitter.com/cvpayne/status/1268945694267711492 )

        Family:

        – He signed the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act that provided money to states for at-risk mothers, specifically focusing on reducing higher infant mortality rates for Black Americans
        – The Tax Cuts & Jobs Act doubled the maximum amount of the child tax credits available to parents. He signed into law a $2.4 billion increase for the Child Care & Development Fund going to states to fund child care for low income families
        – The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit signed into law provides tax credits for child care expenses, and allowed flexible spending accounts to be established for child care
        – Median family income has gone up more for Black households than it has for White and non-Hispanic White households in the past 3 years

        The First Step Act:

        – This criminal justice bill set in place reforms that make our justice system fairer, and help former inmates successfully return to society
        – It addresses inequities in sentencing laws that dis-proportionally harm Black Americans, and reformed mandatory minimums that created unfair outcomes
        – It expanded judicial discretion in sentencing of non-violent crimes
        – Over 90% of those benefiting from the retroactive sentencing reductions in the First Step act are Black Americans
        – It increased rehabilitative programs available to inmates, helping them successfully rejoin society and not return to crime

        This is only a handful of good, productive things he has done as president, but they are hard to find on Google. This short list refers to help that Black Americans have been asking for for decades. Many promises have been made, but we’ve seldom/ever seen results – for the same decades…

        My heart hurts for Renee – I don’t know what it feels like. I’ve done much praying and soul-searching in the past week, and I’ll do my God’s-honest best to make the world better for everyone in the future.

        • Hi Cindy,

          Thank you for your thought out comment with facts and some insight. Since I don’t have an “everything Donald Trump does is bad” mindset, I can read and appreciate the points you’ve made and from my cursory Google, I see they are correct.

          Unfortunately, I don’t exactly blame the media for a lack of the information getting out. From my perspective, this president manages to cloud/ obfuscate actual policy because of his wildly un-presidential unfiltered statements and tweets. Sometimes I try and remember what happened with different ideas he’s lobbed — and I just can’t remember if it went anywhere! (that exclamation point is more for me to show bafflement and whiplash) The other stuff (conflating kneeling flag football protests with troops. Calling them son’s of bitches. Saying dogs are at the ready for protesters. Not shaking Angela Merkel’s hand that one time, calling other world leader’s names. Belittling other elected officials, etc) is just too good to not report, and it becomes what we remember. Members of his own party have said as much, those who actively support him. They spend a lot of time distancing themselves from those kind of comments. That doesn’t negate what his administration has done, but it overshadows it instead. It’s hard to get through the noise, so you just figure: there isn’t anything else there.

          While I admittedly don’t watch non mainstream media news sites and don’t venture into any one else’s cable news, I actively read comments on Facebook and on news sites. I honestly do like hearing varying perspectives. I can’t say they change my mind or my politics. But, it does let me see where people are coming from and understand why they made the they make.

          Did I get off topic? It’s been a day, lol.

          On Fri, Jun 5, 2020 at 4:18 PM Miss Celie's Pants wrote:

          >

    • It makes me physically ill that there are people who actively refuse to look at reality and would impose a fascist racist sexist dictator wannabe with no redeemable qualities on this country.

    • Brenda, why announce here you still want to vote for someone who has made it very clear that he would be glad to see Renee and her entire family in an early grave? You choose to drink the Kool Aid of Faux News, at this point there is not much chance you could see reason, and frankly I don’t care enough to even bring up the many points that will hurt you just as much.
      But you could at least have the decency to leave. Sewing is not enough of a common ground when someone is indifferent to your very life. Why are you even reading this blog at all? You are not welcome, even to other white people. And your post is sooo inappropriate as a response to a gut-wrenching essay that is precisely about the pain caused by people like you… It’s disgusting.

    • @Brenda. You will be voting to keep trump in office, will you? Well, that’s your right. But just be aware. Those peaceful protestors that he sicced the military on the other day…June 1, 2020…weren’t all black. donald trump does not care about YOU. he does not care about anyone other than himself. Grab ’em by the pussy. Shithole countries. Fire those sons of bitches. That’s who you think should remain president. E. Jean Carroll said that he raped her in a department store changing room. That’s who you want to remain president. donald trump hasn’t done ANYTHING for ANYONE that isn’t in as high or higher tax bracket than he. Wake up.

      • K I am curious why you are offended and saddened by me being offended and saddened? I am, however, sure that Brenda was perfectly aware of her voting rights and that she was awake and not sleep typing. Are you equally aware that you were somewhat rude towards her?

        • Somewhat rude towards….who? You are offended and saddened by what, exactly? That a racist says that they are, in fact, racist, and someone takes exception to it? You are asserting that it’s Brenda’s right to vote for trump. Yes, It is. It’s M-C’s right to say why she objects to it. She’s saying that she objects to trump, what he’s doing to rip this country apart, and those that get in line behind those policies.

          Who exactly, made you the arbiter of what is and isn’t, rude? I think it’s rude that you took exception to what M-C said. Just like you’re being rude to me. So, now what?

          Sure, Brenda can feel any which way about trump. he isn’t, and hasn’t done ANYTHING for ANYONE, including black people, in this country. he only cares about himself and those in his tax bracket. That’s all. IF. He cared about his base…then he wouldn’t be trying to pile them all up in an arena, MASKLESS, during a pandemic. Would he?

    • Brenda, sorry it’s taken me a minute to get to your comment. I’ve been trying to respond to folks when I can. It is absolutely your right to vote for President Trump. But, I am deeply curious as to what you think he has done for the Black community or what policies he’s put in place that has done more for them. I’d like to refresh your memory, if I may, that it was the Democrat president (JFK) who first tried to pass the Civil Rights Ammendment and later LBJ who went on to implement what ended legal segregation in America. To say the current president has done more than that is honestly baffling. So I truly look forward to your reply.

      • I would also be interested in hearing Brenda’s thoughts about that.

    • K Are you angry and if so toward whom and at what?

      It was you who was rude to Brenda of course by telling her to “wake up”. Brenda merely stated that she will be voting for trump. You now compound that rudeness by calling her a disgusting name, namely “a racist” when there was nothing racist at all in her post and it is not actually a fact, as you have wrongly stated, that she has said that she is racist. She has not.

      It is clear that you responded to my comment about being saddened etc without bothering to find out what saddened and offended me. Only now do you ask, after your knee jerk response. You obviously replied even though you had no idea what I was talking about and before you had given any thought to what I posted. So no, my response also had nothing to do with racism as you seem to assume.

      I did not, as you said, “assert Brenda’s right to vote” it was you who wrote that. As you now assert it is M-C’s right to say what she objects to even though I have not disputed anyone’s right to free speech.

      You are mistaken in thinking I am an arbiter of this blog. I simply recognise rudeness which is always unnecessary and demeans the person being rude.

      You may think it rude that I took exception to what M-C said but it actually was not. Just me stating my feelings about what they posted. We seem to already have established that I am not out of order to do that would you not agree?

      As for being rude to you, please tell me how this is so, bearing in mind your comments about “rights”.

      So now we have come full circle back to the original post I made about feeling saddened and offended by what M-C posted. If you really wish to know my feelings on that issue, please say so here and I will attempt to enlighten you.

      I am not responding to any comments about trump as he is not part of my posts at all other than I have noted that Brenda feels differently towards him than you.

      Finally I have found that it is always wise to read carefully before responding, in writing.

      • What exactly is it that you’re “saddened by” then Kathryn? Go ahead. Enlighten me. That she objected to what Brenda said? Or that she had the temerity to state it? I didn’t say that you were an arbiter of this blog. Get your facts straight, hon. I asked who made you the arbiter of what is and isn’t rude.

  30. Thank you for writing this post! I’ve followed you for a number of years (I remember when you posted about dating a police officer, and when you broke up with him). Even though your posts were about sewing or knitting, you had quite a bit of your “self” included so I feel like I know you. I’m saddened you have felt the need to censor yourself to be “the Black friend.” I feel like I know you well enough that we could be friends (except we’ve never met and are 1/2 a continent apart and you don’t know anything about me). Deciding to stop the self-censoring is scary, but it’s essential to do. I remember how freeing it was when I decided at age 40 to quit acting how I thought people wanted me to act, so they would like me.
    Please show us YOU in your blog and on IG because I’m betting a lot us will only appreciate you more than ever. And anyone who can’t handle your authentic self wasn’t going to be a good friend anyway.
    P.S. our President is why I had to change my party affiliation to Independent. The Dems are too far left for me and the Reps are too far right. So just because I’m a white woman from a state that is very rural, white, and Republican, please don’t think I fall lockstep in with them.

  31. Oh my friend, Renee. You’ve left me in tears. (And not just because it’s Wednesday.) Thank you for sharing your experiences. I can’t fathom the wear and tear on your heart and your soul by having to endure so many injustices and indignities on a daily basis. It is intolerable. I truly, truly hope that this time period will be remembered years from now as the start of significant change and progress. I’m so grateful for your friendship. And please know you never need to make me feel comfy. Be true to you. (Goodness knows you embraced my true self when I figured myself out.) And I love you just as you are.

  32. This makes me so sad. I appreciate your openness about your experiences and would like to hear more of the concrete examples. I know I live in a bubble and like to think I’m a compassionate liberal but I can’t understand and know what you live through every day. I and every other white person need to hear that you – a sewing goddess in my book! – aren’t received with open arms wherever you go. It’s unimaginable to me but I need to be reminded that it’s true.
    Thank you.
    And I do know this much – VOTE!!!

  33. Thank you for the specificity of this post, and the reminders that racism is a whole lot bigger than overt actions, or “I don’t see color”. Your descriptions of the contortions you’ve found necessary are shocking and appalling, and painful to read.

    Maybe Trena wasn’t exactly wrong, but it’s very clear that we are nowhere near where we need to be, as a country, and as people. Thank you for this raw post, and the power of your voice reminding us, especially your white, privileged, readers (like me), that it’s not enough to believe that we are “not racist”, and that it’s critical to BE actively anti-racist.

  34. Thanks for sharing your experience! It is only by listening openly to the lived experience of others that we can change our thoughts and feelings. I am a white female who DID NOT vote for Trump in the last election. I am also a social worker and we are taught in social work school to acknowledge and root out as much unconscious racism in our selves as possible while humbly admitting that fully ridding ourselves of it is not possible. It is an ongoing, life-long process.

    I enjoy your blog and look forward to more offerings as well as any sharing of your experience. Thank you.

  35. Miss Celie I have always admired you and for so many reasons. You have a spirit for living life fully and for being so generous with all your gifts. Thank you so much for taking the time to write out all the reasons so clearly that make it so hard for black people to live in this world. I’m a realist and I know the world is not going to change overnight. But I am hopeful that change will come and you and people like you who speak the truth to tyranny will be the engine of that change.

  36. I was waiting to hear your thoughts, and thank you for sharing them and for setting up a safe space for us to share ours. I’ve faced microaggressions throughout my life – some similar, some different than what you’ve described. I’ve tried really hard not to be “Your Asian Friend” in what often feels like pure-white Minnesota. I refuse to play culinary tour guide at the Asian grocery store (unless you’re my kid, DO NOT ASK ME what is in this jar or how do you eat this vegetable!!!). I’ve insisted multiple times that I was born and raised in the US, speak only English, and don’t actually know the lady who sells boba tea. I’ve been mistaken for other Asians multiple times. I have been called a banana, a Twinkie. I’ve listened to my (also white, Jewish) husband mansplain (ugh) that certain racial zings are just benign and I’m overreacting, I’ve been rendered invisible (let me tell you, motherhood gives you another layer of invisibility), so much that one time, I was standing in a lobby with my three daughters when a white man literally bumped into me in this wide-open area, I was so invisible. It doesn’t stop, never stops. I could go on for 2,000 words, too.

  37. I hear you and I respect what you’re saying. Thank you for sharing this. We can all aim to open our hearts more and listen to our better angels.

  38. I was waiting to hear your thoughts, and thank you for sharing them and for setting up a safe space for us to share ours. I’ve faced microaggressions throughout my life – some similar, some different than what you’ve described. I’ve tried really hard not to be “Your Asian Friend” in what often feels like pure-white Minnesota. I refuse to play culinary tour guide at the Asian grocery store (unless you’re my kid, DO NOT ASK ME what is in this jar or how do you eat this vegetable!!!). I’ve insisted multiple times that I was born and raised in the US, speak only English, and don’t actually know the lady who sells boba tea. I’ve been mistaken for other Asians multiple times. I have been called a banana, a Twinkie. I’ve listened to my (also white, Jewish) husband mansplain (ugh) that certain racial zings are just benign and I’m overreacting, I’ve been rendered invisible (let me tell you, motherhood gives you another layer of invisibility), so much that one time, I was standing in a lobby with my three daughters when a white man literally bumped into me in this wide-open area, I was so invisible. It doesn’t stop, never stops. I could go on for 2,000 words, too.(I tried posting this before and wasn’t sure if it went through. Sorry if this is a repeat.)

  39. Thank you. (I’m trying to just shut up and listen but hi! I’ve lurked for years after I found you from all the fab cape you made.)

  40. Thank you for sharing your articulate response. I don’t know how to share who I am without rambling too much. I feel uncomfortable any time I have to spend much time without diversity – racial, socioeconomic, age, national origin. I have been fortunate to have been taught a few tips for standing up to discrimination and how I was the only one, as the nice white girl from the uppercrust family, in a position to do so. I hadn’t really noticed until a couple of times when people told me. My funniest success stories are my favorite school memories, but they’re too few and too long ago. As a nice ol’ lady not in a position of power I have to relearn what I can do. Tips are always welcome, as are reminders like your story.

  41. Thank you for this, I understand your feeling of trying to fit in. I grew up in a black neighbourhood in Tanzania. I went to the local school and all my friends were black, I was always welcome and happy in my friend’s homes and colour was never an issue for me. When I was 16 I came to live in UK (in the mid 80s) and I felt like an alien… I am white but I feel that my culture is black. Sorry if that is offensive ..I am out spoken, can be very direct in what I say, like loud music, dancing, I laugh loudly and love expansively. This does not fit with the expectation of white middle class behaviour in UK, I feel that my skin is the wrong colour for my culture and now I don’t belong on either ‘side’. I know that this is so small and insignificant to what black people in US have to deal with. I’m sure that many people will find what I say offensive… but you said “say what you like” so I have.. and I stand with you and everyone who feels like you do.

  42. This is my story. Obviously with a few differences but the same. I feel I’m going to need to do some writing. Thank you for giving me the words. I’m exhausted.

  43. Thank you for this and I’m really glad to see the supportive and courteous comments. I was raised white (and am successful and educated) but am brown. You’ve made me think about how both my husband and I project/portray ourselves to make others comfortable. But I teach many, many young black people in an inner city high school. I worry for them so much.

  44. I am proud of you, Renee. Thank you for saying so artfully what so many can not.

  45. Renee, I am sorry for all the bullshit. It’s not (all) my bullshit but I am a white woman and I recognize that I get to live my life without the layers of stress and anxiety you’ve described here. I have long admired you online and secretly hoped that if I ever went to Baltimore one day that we might meet and be friends. I am completely on board with your advice to vote Trump out. He is a monster. If I could fast-forward to November to vote my feelings right Now, I would. Although, even without the emotional heat of this moment, I’m all about voting him out. He is a vortex of great evil, in my opinion.

    A few years ago you and I exchanged comments about how both our grandmothers wore “house dresses” in the summer and how we continue that tradition because they’re damn comfortable. Since then, I think of you almost every single time I get out my own house dress on a hot day. I’m thinking of you now and doing my best to be part of the change we all need. Thanks for your honesty.

  46. R: I going to have to read this about 10 more times to truly understand it and to give it its rightful consideration. Thank you so much for sharing your stories and your perspectives. Your 3 recommendations are so right-on, IMO. Persistent microagression is something I’ve never had to manage but I can’t even imagine how horrible, exhausting and demoralizing it is. To say nothing of the overt danger that Black people face daily. Fact is, just cuz I don’t have to manage it, doesn’t mean I don’t have to think about it and figure out ways to make the world better for and with others. I have a zillion other thoughts that I’m still arranging in my brain but this post has given me additional direction. xoxo K

  47. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us, Renee. It is so sad that white supremacy keeps black people from being seen as individuals and 3D human beings, and white people from doing much more than projecting their weird and dumb expectations onto black folks. It took me way too long to realize that segregation is still going on full blast, and that breaking it down can lead us to rich relationships instead of interactions that humiliate black and brown people and deny them of their full humanity. Thank you for sharing your words and yourself.

  48. Thank you. One of the reasons, aside from your sewing, that I have followed your for years is how well you write and this piece is no exception. I love the honesty and deep thoughtfulness. It’s always a good thing for white people to read and listen and to hopefully learn what it is to be a Black person in America. I don’t blame you for not accepting white women at face value. I meet new people and I always manage to let them know that I am Jewish. I am lucky, I’ve only had small micro aggression’s but no where near what a Black woman experiences. It would say that it helps to have mostly liberal friends, but you probably do too and it doesn’t always make a difference. I read something interesting in Paul Kurgman’s letter yesterday about why we don’t have universal health care in this country and we could have had it in 1947 but white southern Democrats in Congress blocked it because Black people would be better off. Because of racism.

    • Nancy Karpen your remarks about the US universal health care are rather skewed. The legislation was not blocked because it made black people better off. It was actually the American Medical Association that first opposed the proposal for a national health system followed by the dental association and others in 1945. The plan, which became the Wagner-Murray-Dingell Bill, was never hashed out because it never even made it to a vote. Southern democrats in congress voted conservatively and this was a very progressive plan and it was not specifically white democrats who were involved. At that time in the US there was a rising fear of socialism and the American Medical Association (AMA) campaigned against the plan, concerned about doctors losing autonomy to government and nothing to do with black people being better off.

      Paul Kruger gave 3 possible solutions for the US health care problem. One of which is Socialized medicine in which the government provided health care directly under “socialized medicine.” In this case, all hospitals would be owned by the government and all doctors and nurses would be government employees. Both doctors and patients would have less choice in the range of treatments and procedures that are available to them in this scenario. Kruger said that the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, or NHS, is an example of this type of system but he is not completely correct.

      As well as the NHS the UK also have countless privately owned hospitals which directly employ doctors and nurses and all staff and are not under government control but are completely independent. In the private sector doctors are not constrained by government budgets and so there is ultimate control of treatments by patients and doctors and wide ranging choice of cutting edge treatments. British people can choose to make use of the private system and the patients pay for everything. They can choose to take out private health care insurance if they wish to cover costs that way. They have the choice to use the NHS for some procedures and the private system for others as and when they choose. They are not tied in to one system exclusively at any time.

      • Are you Welsh?? I ask because I just watched “Gavin and Stacey” for the second time and have been walking around with a fairly lame Welsh accent for a few weeks.

        From what I’ve read, your recounting of why America is one of the few industrialized western countries without universal/ socialized healthcare is correct. To lay my cards on the table, I wish we did for everyone. I’ve watched friends and family financially devastated from an illness. I myself have put off doctor visits because I just don’t want to deal with the hassle or worries about what my bill might be. Jordan and I currently pay $1,000 a month for our *share* of healthcare and it blows my mind!

        I admit to now knowing too much about the UK health system outside of anecdotal stories from a few friends and family in England and a couple of physicians who work for the system that I’ve met through sewing. So I appreciate your recap of how it works.

        On Fri, Jun 5, 2020 at 12:45 PM Miss Celie's Pants wrote:

        >

  49. Thank you so much, Renee. I have been thinking a lot about how I need to somehow widen my social media and my actual life to include more Black voices. I’ve been thinking a lot about how I have good relationships with the Black women I work with, but I also wonder if they are holding back from being real with me. I don’t think I inherently deserve anything, including trust, from my Black friends (and patients) because I know how white women have betrayed the black community. When the 2016 election happened, something broke in me, and my heart broke for the Black community, the LGBT community, and the immigrant community in this country. I knew without a doubt that this was going to be one of the most difficult periods in American history, and it has exceeded even my dire expectations. I can’t imagine what it has been like for you or for anyone else in these communities. I hope that we can do better by you. I know for my part, I will continue to do my best, calling out microaggressions and racism when I see and hear it, educating myself, being present, and listening.

  50. Although I’m going to make this very brief, please know how deeply this has affected me. Your story is important,so thank you for your words and sharing your experience. I’m going to just sit quietly with what you’ve said and I’ll probably come back to it again. I’ll strive to be better and do better in this world.

  51. Renee, I am really glad that you wrote this entry today. You have been my inspiration with your stories and experiences about life, sewing, and knitting. Your blog is about sharing the passions of your life.

    I wanted to mention that I have lived a very different experience than many people I know. Having an incredibly open minded father, who would talk to me about a variety of things has made a huge difference! Since he worked for a rather large oil company, my family and I moved all over the US. We had the opportunity to live in Texas for five years. It was the early seventies, which was a tumultuous time. Imagine my anger and frustration to see people being treated badly due to racism. From the ages of ten through fifteen, we lived in the burbs of Houston.

    After returning back to California, I was stunned to see the same racism in the San Francisco Bay area!! It was actually worse in some respects.(It was more insidious and devisive!) I was still incensed that I was seeing this in high school as well as at college. It drove me crazy!

    I agree with you on all of the points that you have made. I am going to think more of how I can do better to make the changes that are needed in the world, especially in the US!

  52. Powerful testimony that I will remember always and use it to inform my life. I hope others will as well.

  53. Dear Renee, Thank you so much for your candid, heartfelt comments. My experiences have been much the same as your own and I’m as tired as you are of the status quo. I will be voting in Nov. and certainly not for the incumbent. Much love to you and Jordan.

  54. Thank you for having the courage to be yourself and express yourself so eloquently. I really hope that this post gets through to many people, and I feel that it will.

  55. Rene, you have shaken me to my core. I have never felt I was racist. Most of my life, I have known few black people. Why would i? Your lives have had nothing to do with mine. It is only in the past few years that I have begun to see differently, to not turn my head. I have been grateful for my privileged white life. And now, with your honest, raw, unedited story, you have shown me another level of my blindness. Please forgive me. Please forgive all of us.

    I can only say, in Oprah’s wise words, “When we know better, we do better.” Thank you for helping us to know better.

    Linda

  56. As a sheltered white woman, all I can say is I’m sorry and I will do better.

    P.S. I did NOT vote for the monstrosity currently in office nor for ANY of his enablers. Not that that justifies any bubble I live in.

  57. I have been following your sewing blog for many years. Thank you from one black sister to another. So elegantly written.

  58. Thank you! This was painful and exhausting to read so I can’t imagine how much more painful and exhausting it was to write and to live. I truly despair of our country.

    ceci

  59. Thank you for sharing this. These conversations are painful but we white people need to hear them and understand what we have been allowing to continue. And we need to vote him and his enablers (are you listening Kentucky?) out this fall. Jean

  60. Thank you, Renee. Your writing has drawn me in for many years, as one of the first blogs I read. Your post was a phenomenal piece. It’s Wednesday afternoon, I just listened to President Obama call out the “sins of America” and tell everyone to make “those in power uncomfortable”. So well stated! I live in Arizona but come from the “white” part of Minnesota, and as another commenter said, didn’t meet any non-white people and those of other religions until college.
    As a science-oriented person, the last few months I’ve been sending emails to lots of elected people to “do” what should have been done by the leader of the free world about Covid 19, and to vote him out. (I don’t allow the name in my house.)
    I found out recently that a friend, with an upbringing similar to mine, was a devout Republican, and CNN wasn’t allowed in her house. But she asked me if we could still be “garden” friends, our common interest. Well, thank you, but no! We do not share the same morals. I was taught different.
    My mother was a nurse, and my father fought in WWII in the South Pacific with the Bushmasters, mostly men from Arizona and of Hispanic descent. My memories go so far back, when I was only 2 I remember my parents being horrified by the attacks on the new Jewish state of Israel, and cheering on the airlift. Though I remember the event, I did not know the “why’s” until High School. I was horrified then, and am horrified now, by the injustices in and out of our country. If I could have afforded it, I probably would have been a feminist marcher!
    Bless your “before self”, and bless you now. I’ve always felt you were a sister in sewing. I have a difficult body to fit, and your blog explaining fitting solutions was so helpful, I saw it wasn’t just my problem! Thank you for that also!
    Cherie

  61. Thank you. I’m a 60-something middle class white woman on the west coast of Canada—that’s about as insulated and privileged as it’s possible to be. I really appreciate your insight.

  62. Your words are a gift for all. I hope you know how many lives you have touched and potentially changed.

    Thank you.

  63. Thankyou for this post, Renee. I am half a world away, but racism impacts the lives of my fellow Australians. I will do as you suggest in steps 2 & 3.

  64. Thank you. I imagine this was a challenging to write and post. I found it extremely valuable and appreciate your honesty and bravery to do so. And your sewing is amazing!

  65. Thank you for your words. Wish I had something insightful to add. Had to go in to DC today and all I could do was cry.

    Please keep writing, sewing, sharing your knowledge.

  66. Thank you for your words. You have reminded me that I don’t know what I don’t know, that I am clueless to my ignorance. I look forward to hearing from your authentic self. Your words can teach others and knowledge brings change.

    • Well, thanks, Ann. I’ve been saying for the last few years that I wished I was a better storyteller. I’m a pretty decent writer of facts, but I’ve kind of struggled to write about experiences and drawing fleshed on conclusions. Thanks for reading and seeing what I was trying to get at.

  67. Thank you for the dialogue you started with your post. I have seen a lot of things suggested on social media as ways to help. However most seem so temporary. No politician In history has done anything to ease the racial tensions and therefore I believe we are being naive to think all of a sudden one will-especially since our choices are the current one and one that has been a career politician, has an unimpressive record and has already shown he likes divisiveness. For long term solutions 1) why aren’t all these famous people giving money to minority business owners that have had their businesses destroyed or looted instead of bailing out those that did the looting 2) has NAACP, BLM or any organization worked with the police unions to improve their policies so that it is possible to fire a police officer after a couple of complaints-it is almost impossible to fire a bad federal employee and a bad policeman 3) how much effort have the famous people and these organizations put forth in trying to get corporations to have more diversity on their boards and in their management 4) our sewing community is very diverse and we give large pattern, craft, and fabric companies our money and support-is our diversity represented in these companies? I doubt it. I assume it is the same in other companies. They have diverse “ambassadors” that could play a larger role in the companies. I believe that a critical piece is exactly what you said “ accept that people are multidimensional and make an effort to get to know people who aren’t like you.

    • Oh, yes. I’m afraid that my point on Trump may have missed the larger point you make. These things were happening before he came along. I can’t speak on point #1. Regarding #2, I think it would be impossible for those groups to help improve police unions. My off the top of my head thinking is that those groups tend to support unions because they can help ensure minority employees aren’t fired. By going after police unions, they risk having to tackle all unions. Going after unions really doesn’t work for Dems, because “we” are pro-Union — despite their issues. I say “we” because I am a registered democrat and have worked for multiple Democratic administrations. I used to think I was pretty conservative Dem, but the last three years have made me feel like a very liberal Democrat. 4) This is a really good question about the diversity in the companies. I do think the major indie designers have caught up with Big 4 in showing diversity in their retweets and models. I think the companies looking for sponsorships have made an effort too. I have learned from white sewing celebrities that they are paid for posts (actual money) and I don’t know of any minority sewing women who have received more than a temporary sewing machine. That is an unscientific poll limited by who I can have those conversations with. I do recognize there are minority pattern designers out there who aren’t getting the same level of attention as other designers. But, I think I’m not the target audience for entry level patterns anyway, so I haven’t had much interaction or feedback on what I can do to better support them. I need to think about that more. And maybe get my random YouTube channel of sewing gadget reviews going!

    • @DSharp. I’m going to take a stab at a few of the questions you’ve posed. First, if I may, I’m not sure that I’m understanding what you meant by this:
      :…our choices are the current one and one that has been a career politician, has an unimpressive record and has already shown he likes divisiveness.”

      So. You’re saying that we have two choices (I’m guessing that you mean for President) 1. The Current One. trump. 2. The one that has been a career politician. Biden. Is that correct, so far? But then, you put a comma after your designation about Biden and went on to say “has an unimpressive record….”. So, are you saying that Joe Biden has the unimpressive record and has already shown he likes divisiveness? Or trump likes divisiveness?

      Because, if it’s Biden you’re talking about, what divisiveness has he shown? Not trying to be facetious, I really do want to know.

      Ok. As to your questions, the first one being:
      “For long term solutions 1) why aren’t all these famous people giving money to minority business owners that have had their businesses destroyed or looted instead of bailing out those that did the looting”

      Now, I have heard news reports that some celebrities were providing monies for bail for those that were arrested. But I thought that it was for the protesters. Why would anyone (other than their family members) provide bail money for people who loot stores? Besides it being a bad idea, and antithetical to what this protest movement is all about, it’s bad PR. Why would celebrities want bad press? Might I also suggest here, that it’s been reported that people outside of communities infiltrate peaceful protests with backpacks full of bricks (for smashing windows) and walkie talkies in order to co-ordinate their activities towards instigating vandalizing and looting. That’s not to say that crowds of peaceful protestors AREN’T looting, just saying that it’s not only them.

      Also you ask…why don’t they give the money to the shop owners instead? Well. I think that would be a question for them. I did see that Halle Berry started a Go-Fund-Me page for a shop owner in California. Is that ok? Or, should she have given her own money? Which, she may have done as well. I’m sure that not all, but some of the businesses have insurance that may cover some of the losses. But then, if I may ask in turn…how is celebrity contributions to small businesses a long term solution? And, which businesses do they choose? As is usually the case, if they did do something like that, it’d be a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” dilemma, because somebody is going to take exception to who did, and who didn’t; get left out.

      2) has NAACP, BLM or any organization worked with the police unions to improve their policies so that it is possible to fire a police officer after a couple of complaints-it is almost impossible to fire a bad federal employee and a bad policeman

      Honestly, I don’t know. I’d be willing to bet, however, that at some point in time, these organizations have indeed reached out, but to little or no avail.

      There’s an underlying theme that your questions are showing. It looks to me as if you’re trying to blame the victim. Why is there a need for the NAACP or BLM to reach out to the police? Because the police are abusing their authority. The police should not be abusing their authority. Why not begin asking the questions there?

      Why are they abusing their authority?

      Then you go on and answer the question…”it is almost impossible to fire a bad federal employee and a bad policeman.” Honestly, it’s going to take more than a committee to put guidelines in place for that. It will take legislation. Including striking down the law that the Supreme Court has put in place blocking officers from being held responsible for crimes they commit while on duty.

      3) how much effort have the famous people and these organizations put forth in trying to get corporations to have more diversity on their boards and in their management

      Again, this looks like victim blaming, to me. Why is it in the purview of “the famous people” and “these organizations”…NAACP and BLM to insist that a company hire who they tell them to? Again I ask, why aren’t these companies hiring people based on skill? Further, why aren’t you asking these companies why they are discriminating against people?

      I think that you, along with everyone else, knows the answer to the questions. But, if I may respectfully suggest: I think that you’re asking the wrong people.

  68. Thank you for sharing this, Renee. I’ve been following you for years and am so glad to know your perspective and thoughts. I wholeheartedly agree with all of your action points.

    Keep doing you. You are more than enough.

  69. Renee. I’m so glad you’ve gotten or rather, taken the time to vent. Looks as if it was long overdue. I wish that I could offer some words of comfort. Without being condescending, I’d like to say that it looks as if throughout your life, you’ve strived to live with a sense of embracing the warp and weft of everything wonderful that life has to offer, letting kindness be your guide, even though you didn’t always receive kindness. God bless you for (in the face of such negativity) continuing to see life for it’s wonderful possibilities. I realize that you’ve stated that no one can tell you how to feel. And you’re absolutely right about that assertion. Not trying to suggest how you should or shouldn’t feel about the experiences you’ve had. I can tell you a bit about how I feel, however. Honestly, Renee; for me white peoples’ view of me as a black person never really bothered me on a personal, take it to heart way, because they don’t have the right. What they think about me on account of SKIN COLOR is not my problem. It’s theirs. I don’t give a fuck. I really don’t. They don’t pay my bills. I refuse to let them ruin my sense of self. Now. Does racism affect me negatively? Yep. Sure does. But, dear heart, since I already know how most of those em effers roll, I don’t entertain their bullshit. I mean, I don’t hold onto it like my life depends on it. Cause baby, it don’t. There is so much to be done in the way of making this old world of ours a better place for all of us to live in. If I could suggest one thing to you, it would be to quit wasting your time worrying about what white people think of you. You know you’re the bees knees, baby. You don’t need ANYONE to validate what’s already a given.

  70. Renee. I’m so glad you’ve gotten or rather, taken the time to vent. Looks as if it was long overdue. I wish that I could offer some words of comfort. Without being condescending, I’d like to say that it looks as if throughout your life, you’ve strived to live with a sense of embracing the warp and weft of everything wonderful that life has to offer, letting kindness be your guide, even though you didn’t always receive kindness. God bless you for (in the face of such negativity) continuing to see life for it’s wonderful possibilities. I realize that you’ve stated that no one can tell you how to feel. And you’re absolutely right about that assertion. Not trying to suggest how you should or shouldn’t feel about the experiences you’ve had. I can tell you a bit about how I feel, however. Honestly, Renee; for me white peoples’ view of me as a black person never really bothered me on a personal, take it to heart way, because they don’t have the right. What they think about me on account of SKIN COLOR is not my problem. It’s theirs. I don’t give a fuck. I really don’t. They don’t pay my bills. I refuse to let them ruin my sense of self. Now. Does racism affect me negatively? Yep. Sure does. But, dear heart, since I already know how most of those em effers roll, I don’t entertain their bullshit. I mean, I don’t hold onto it like my life depends on it. Cause baby, it don’t. There is so much to be done in the way of making this old world of ours a better place for all of us to live in. If I could suggest one thing to you, it would be to quit wasting your time worrying about what white people think of you. You know you’re the bees knees, baby. You don’t need ANYONE to validate what’s already a given.

    • Ok well, there’s some kind of glitch going on. Like June, I tried to post this more than once because it didn’t work the first time. If you could delete the email address again, or just delete the whole thing, I’d appreciate that! Thanks!

  71. Maybe this is the place I (older white woman) can bring up what I’ve wanted the right chance to say:
    There have been a notable number of instances in my life when it was a black person, an African-American, who saw my pain or need, and stepped up to do something to help, in the midst of an otherwise not noticing (or sometimes actively uncaring) crowd, or occasion. An African-American, and only an African-American. These moments are written on my heart. Out of suffering laid on them, beyond what life can throw anyone, for no reason except an attribute of birth, came, for these folks, a greater capacity to see, and to act with compassion without hesitation. I remain grateful for those acts of caring. They also help me hope that humanity as a whole can do the same.

  72. One other thing. There’s a book that I’d highly recommend. It’s called “The Four Agreements”. Ever heard of it? Check out the Second Agreement. It reads something like this: “Don’t take anything personally. That’s the second agreement of Don Miguel Ruiz’s classic, “The Four Agreements.” I need a reminder today. So I open his book to that chapter and read: Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally. Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.”

    • This was one of Congressman Elijah Cummings’ favorite books. I ran a youth leadership program for him and he recommended this book to our students. I’m ashamed to say I never read it, but will look into it now.

  73. Renee. I’m so glad you’ve gotten or rather, taken the time to vent. Looks as if it was long overdue. I wish that I could offer some words of comfort. Without being condescending, I’d like to say that it looks as if throughout your life, you’ve strived to live with a sense of embracing the warp and weft of everything wonderful that life has to offer, letting kindness be your guide, even though you didn’t always receive kindness. God bless you for (in the face of such negativity) continuing to see life for it’s wonderful possibilities. I realize that you’ve stated that no one can tell you how to feel. And you’re absolutely right about that assertion. Not trying to suggest how you should or shouldn’t feel about the experiences you’ve had. I can tell you a bit about how I feel, however. Honestly, Renee; for me white peoples’ view of me as a black person never really bothered me on a personal, take it to heart way, because they don’t have the right. What they think about me on account of SKIN COLOR is not my problem. It’s theirs. I don’t give a fuck. I really don’t. They don’t pay my bills. I refuse to let them ruin my sense of self. Now. Does racism affect me negatively? Yep. Sure does. But, dear heart, since I already know how most of those em effers roll, I don’t entertain their bullshit. I mean, I don’t hold onto it like my life depends on it. Cause baby, it don’t. There is so much to be done in the way of making this old world of ours a better place for all of us to live in. If I could suggest one thing to you, it would be to quit wasting your time worrying about what white people think of you. You know you’re the bees knees, baby. You don’t need ANYONE to validate what’s already a given. P.S. Something happened above with my email address being posted. If you could delete that, I’d be grateful. K.

  74. Thank you for this illuminating piece. I’m a 66 y/o retired white nurse. I’m listening. I’ve just ordered a couple of books for my grandsons on diversity. I’ve always considered myself a non-racist. The evidence of the day shows me that is not enough. I must become anti-racist. Again, thank you for sharing. Peace and love to you, dear lady. 🌸

    • Thank you Kathryn for working with your grandchildren. The lessons we learn early on are the ones that stick with us for life.

  75. Renee, I was first drawn to your sewing blog a great many years ago by the “Miss Celie’s Pants” name. I thought I knew exactly where that came from and I admired you greatly for choosing it. I’m an older (almost 74) white woman of privilege who is really trying to learn and at least try to see things from the perspective of black women. I know there’s absolutely no way I can but I’d like to at least try. My son-in-law is a police sergeant in a large city and I’m now at odds with my daughter because I’ve come out in support of Black Lives Matter and have expressed that a great many policemen all over the country are out of control and have no business being officers. I don’t think my sil is one of those but how do I know for sure? I know she’s very defensive and given her situation, I can sort of understand. When I asked her one time a few years ago when yet another young black man was murdered without cause by a policeman and nothing happened, why didn’t good policemen help get rid of the bad ones and she said it wasn’t possible due to unions and ostracizing by fellow officers. That’s just wrong. I am so sorry for all the painful slights and hurts you have endured from so many places and people. Please know that I appreciate you and the way you share your life. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It means a lot. Sending many hugs. Peggy

    • Peggy, your words are so powerful. I think we can acknowledge that unions and fraternal ties protect bad cops. That’s no different than saying unions can protect bad teachers or employees. But, when it comes to police, we are more defensive. My husband was a film studies major in undergrad. He talks a lot about how much film and media shaped our perception of police, military, authority, etc. I haven’t done a deep dive into this topic. But, I can tell you having worked in a county executive, Mayoral and gubernatorial offices — unions are strong and don’t help to rid the force of bad actors.

  76. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. I will never understand why people can be so prejudiced when they really are no different or better. Yes I see black skin, but I also see blond hair or green eyes. They are all just a physical characteristics of people. As for Trump, we have to vote him out before he causes more damage to this country.

  77. I don’t think I’ve ever commented before, but I love your blog and have followed for years. Thank you for your eloquent post.

  78. I love your column and have been following along with your sewing and other adventures for years. I live in Canada and have a wide circle of friends and we constantly appalled and disgusted with the idiot who calls himself the Pres. He is such a piece of work, everytime he opens his mouth he digs himself in deeper. It is shocking and disgusting what is going on in your country and my heart goes out to you. Please, please, please, will the people of the United States not vote this lunatic back into office! Everyone I know is appalled about the actions of this disgusting creature. God bless you.

    • Thank you for paying attention to American politics. The sewing internet has made me much more aware of elections and policies in other countries. I’m not where I should be, but I pay far more attention than I used to.

  79. Renee, I’m sorry that you have been, and will probably continue to be, the target of day in and day out racism in America. And that the same is true for every other Black person in this country. I can only imagine how disheartening and infuriating it can be. I wish I could say that I have never behaved in any of the ways you describe. I can’t. I can resolve to continue my efforts to pay attention, and to act.

    And yes, the utterly abhorrent Trump needs to go, and there are a million ways to assist that effort. And surely white women sewists can use their creativity to expand their circles of acquaintances and friends.

    Thank you for your generosity in sharing your life on this blog over the years. And especially thank you for this honest post.

  80. Another one here who doesn’t comment often but feels she knows you because of your wonderful writing and the joys and pinpricks of our shared artwork.. I cannot tell you how sad it makes me that in the past few weeks every black woman I know, or not even know, has been driven to write these eloquent heartbreaking essays about life stifled by racism. So let me promise you something – I have been busting my ass since 2016 to get Mango Mussolini out of office, and it’s nothing compared to what the next few months are going to be like. If I have anything to do with it, it’s going to go like this https://mobile.twitter.com/monty_2012/status/1268364469312217088
    Courage! And thank you for being yourself

      • Since I am on a daily danger of popping an artery, I figure humor is slso a daily necessity. Especially when sick and twisted 😁. There’s no low we can get below in this climate

  81. Thank you for telling us straight. It is not right. I’m in the UK, and once Trump got elected I decided not to visit the US whilst he was in power.
    Of course ‘Black Lives Matter’, but the fact that statement has to be even said takes my breath away.
    I love your blog, thank you for this post.

    • I don’t know if this is the same, so please forgive me if it isn’t. When we were looking for places to honeymoon, a bike trip was available through Paris and other parts of France. My husband was disinclined to go because of what he’d read about anti-semitism there. I’d read about some racist acts against African soccer players, but felt separate from that because I’m an American (naive? maybe. But, bless American bravado, eh?) Another friend left her Star of David necklace at home, because she was worried about anti-semitism in a different part of Europe. So I get the sentiment of not going where you think you might not be welcome or supporting the economy of a place for that. Maybe I’m conflating two things. Any rate. We Jordan (hubs) told another American couple on our honeymoon in the Netherlands why we didn’t go to Paris and they were SO UNCOMFORTABLE and changed the subject. In a million years I wouldn’t have told them our reasoning because I’d learned what people did and didn’t want to hear about.

      • Oh, people get SO uncomfortable when you mention something like this. It reminds me of the time when a group of us French emigrants hosted a couple from Quebec in San Francisco. Great food, and we didn’t tease them about their accent even once 😁. But we did tell them about the last batch of visitors from Quebec, who freaked out when they figured out jews were present. Well you can guess the end.. We had a huge laugh about how everyone there was some sort of jew, apart from a couple arabs who count as the same, and.. We never heard from these ones again either. I have been more cautious about Canadians since, alas

  82. Thank you so much for this post. I have followed your blog as long as I can remember knowing what sewing blogs even were, though I feel that I haven’t posted comments nearly as much as I should have done in all this time. I know you are not ok, and I’m not naive enough to think that a lifetime of abuse can ever really be healed, but I am hopefully that the world is getting to a point where people are willing to listen to stories like the ones you have so generously shared and use it as a way to look at their own actions and to examine the ways in which they can do better. I am hopefully that you no longer have to censor your real voice to fit into the role of the black friend. And I am grateful for how vocal everyone I follow in the sewing community has been. I know that this has been the way of the world all along, and most of us have not been paying attention, or turning a blind eye, and that is our faults and the faults of those who were supposed to teach us to be better. It will always be too little too late, but I am trying to listen and learn and do better, and I am trying to examine how I can change from being non-racist to anti-racist.

    The evening of the last presidential election I left my workplace where I had been surrounded by people who were celebrating their “victory,” drove to a tea shop to meet my boyfriend, and spent the rest of the evening sitting in the trunk of a car alternating between crying and staring despondently across a parking lot. I can’t say that I have much hope for November (I too have become quite disenchanted with the voting patterns of white women), and I’m not religious so I don’t really have a deity to pray to, but I’m doing my best to believe that democracy will still exist in 6 months so that we can remove that ************ from our nation’s capital.

    • Oh yes. I may have written this earlier here. I had a childhood friend from middle school who posted about relaxing with a nice glass of wine in a hot tub the day after the election. Me and everyone I knew and loved was devastated. Not “sad”, but like you. Crying and despondent. It made me realize that either she didn’t care enough about politics to have a position or didn’t care/ possibly voted for him, and that was antithetical to how I lived my life and the values I held close. Combined with some other incidents, I realized I needed to walk away from that relationship.

  83. First of all: I am so sorry!
    I just found you because of following someone who posted your post.
    I am from Germany and I was around 3 or 4 years old when I first got to see a black man in a metro here in Germany in a bigger city. It was new to me and I was fascinated. I could not unterstand that. So I said: I don’t understand why he is so dirty and the inside of his hands is clean.
    My aunt who was with me was so embarrassed and told the man that she is sorry for what I said.
    And today I am sorry too!
    Bach in 2010 I stayed for a year in the states as an foreign exchange student. And all I can remember is that we had more gingers than black students. And since that idiot got elected, I said I won’t visit the US if he is still president. And I won’t for sure. But I hope people will wake up now and vote for someone else!
    I will never understand what all of you have to go thru. But I want to let you know that I am sorry for all the idiots no matter where you get to meet them.

    Thank you for sharing the things that happened to you! It helps to understand it for a person who is privileged in so may ways!

    Stay safe and stay healthy! I wish you all the best from Germany

    • I love Germany! We were stationed in Grafenwhoer in Bavaria when I was a kid. Sometimes we’d take drives (futher) into the country. This was the mid 80s and for most, the Cosby show were the black people folks saw. Anyrate. I have these memeories of villagers coming up to us to talk or just staring at us in the grocery store. I went back to Germany with my mother 20 years later and it was a whole new world! No one stared at us. I saw many many more ethnicites — most sepaking native German. It was a delight to move aroun as “just an American”. All this to say, times and places change. Thre are certainly ignorant things I’ve said in the past that I look back on with a LOT of embarassment. Thanks for taking the time to read and sharing your story.

  84. This made my heart bleed. As a white woman I don’t think I can ever fully understand the depth of discrimination you experience every day of your life but your eloquent descriptions (along with others I have read recently ) have helped put racism in a context I can feel. It is not enough anymore to be non-racist we need to be anti-racist. Some of the scenarios you describe I have felt as a woman – but as a Black woman your experience is double discrimination.
    Watching the events in America unfold from Britain it is hard to take in how bad life is for a Black person (I’m sure there is a lot of this in the UK too that as a white person I just don’t know about) one thing stands out though – Trump must go. From the outside it seems that man is the single worst thing to happen to your country in a long time. I am ashamed that so many white women voted for him – my main thought is – HOW COULD THEY.
    I hope that one day soon things will begin to change for the better, that we really treat all people as equal and not just play lip service to it.

    • Just wanted to say your post made me think about my mom. She left Grenda for London in the 60s. I wish she was alive for me to talk to about this. I’d love to have my adult knowledge to talk to her about live in England before she came to the US. And hear how the differences in her experience. Thanks for your comment and words.

      On Thu, Jun 4, 2020 at 4:37 AM Miss Celie's Pants wrote:

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  85. Dear Renee,
    I too am a “Black Friend.” I’ve been following your blog for a few years now and I’m not even sure how I stumbled across it, but was so happy when I did because I hardly ever saw black female sewists online.

    I’ve never commented until now. This time I just felt I had to say something. Your post so deeply resonates with me. I too am the middle class black girl who speaks well, is respectable and makes others comfortable by not being “too black”. We know living like that is hard and sad. Thank you for sharing so much truth about being black in the USA and all of the raw details that you did. So many I can identify with. Thank your for being brave enough to put all of this out there to anyone who will read and listen no matter how uncomfortable it may be.

    I spent my middle school to highschool years in a predominantly white suburb that was quite racist. I’d never experienced anything like it before. Every day I walked over an overpass spray painted with the oh so loving phrase, “KKK. Kill niggers!!!” It spanned the length of the overpass. I was one of probably 6 blacks in the entire school. There were so many experiences but one I recall relates to making people uncomfortable when addressing the realities of racism. One day I recall having a discussion about attending our junior prom with a dear classmate. She was a fiery red head, a bit of a flirt and very spunky. So much fun to be around. She smiled at me and asked who I’d be going to the prom with. I looked at her and said, “No one white will go to the prom with me. She looked shocked and dropped her head not knowing what to say. We both grew silent. Of course she didn’t know what to say. Poor thing. And the reality of what I said made her uncomfortable. Same school, same town, different realities. That town is very diverse now and I’m sure there are many white kids and black kids and all other races of kids dating and going to proms together. That makes me smile. That’s progress. But It’s still not enough.

    Besides sewing posts, I love seeing your posts of you with your natural hair and your adorable Jewish husband. It makes me smile too. It gives me hope, but know that not even that is enough. It’s one small step. But what the world is experiencing now proves how much farther we have to go. Sorry to go on my soap box, and probably doesn’t make much sense. It’s not meant to steal your thunder. I just needed to reach out and respond and say I hear you as a “black friend”, and I thank you for being honest and letting your friends and readers know what it’s really like for us everyday. Keep on keeping on!

    • Not stealing my thunder at all! Plenty of room. I so relate to that date story. I usually did the asking, it was almost always “just a friend” — more likely the person I was serving on a committee with. The one time someone romantically asked me, the campus consensus was, “Well, she told him she didn’t have anyone to go with.” Womp womp. You’re brave! I knew why I wasn’t being asked, but I could never have said it out loud.

      On Thu, Jun 4, 2020 at 4:59 AM Miss Celie's Pants wrote:

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  86. I also love the diversity of the sewing community…thank you for your honesty. May I share this?

      • Thank you for taking the time to read and reply to our comments…now that I have your permission I will share your words.

  87. Thank you Renee for writing your testimony. It’s heart brokening. I must confess that as a white european woman it is hard for me to imagine what it is to experience racial discrimation. I am so sorry and I send you all my love

  88. I too read the book Warmth of other Suns and in the end I realized what people had to go through just to survive and take care of themselves and their families. But it left me with thinking that we still have a long long way to go to treat people equally. I’m lucky that I was raised and lived with minorities all my life and as a white girl, I was welcomed into the homes of my school friends and loved and treated well. I taught my kids, now all adults, that every person has value and deserves respect no matter their race or religion or culture. But I hear your words and have to agree that these hurtful words and actions towards you are everywhere. Our politicians do little to change situations and until we have more women and people of color and different ethnicity in this country holding office, we will never have peace or true representation. I lived through the Watts riots in LA and saw tanks rolling into neighborhoods and a vacant freeway lined with military jeeps filled with soldiers when we were under Marshall law. That was 1965 and as a teenager, you never forget that and now at 70, I realize we have not progressed and the only way to start making a difference is to vote out ALL the men and women in government who do not hold our values.God bless you for sharing your stories, Renee!

    • I’m grateful you had these experiences to share with your children. I have an internet friend from the Plains. She said until she moved to NY, she never thought about being white! She said everyone was, so you never thought about your place in the world. It was just a given. So, thank you.

      On Thu, Jun 4, 2020 at 6:24 AM Miss Celie's Pants wrote:

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  89. I’m so sorry to hear what you say! I live in Denmark, we have racism here as well, and I hate it, and i hate that you and anyone else is treated like this, but I think it’s getting worse, as so many people only think of them self, we have to begin worry about each other, and help where we can. Every one I know was chokket about your choice of president, hi is your biggest problem today i think
    Sending you a lot of hugs from Denmark 🙂

  90. Dear Renee,

    Years ago, it must have been a DC Seersucker bike riding event where you posted photos that made me think, “Now there’s a strong gal full of chutzpah because that can’t be easy.” To join in and own a spot in a traditionally white space.

    I saw you black, yes. But I saw you black strong. I saw you owning your right to be a woman, a black woman.

    And I see you stronger today for writing this.

    Your sewing, and your openness about your sewing mishaps, has influenced me because you taught me to keep forging on, even when I failed in challenging projects. Thank you.

    Keep pushing the envelop. Keep speaking and writing about your defining moments, I’m listening.

  91. I’m so profoundly angry/sad that the world is the way it is. I don’t even know where to start.
    It’s not ok that you’re not ok. And that you are used it.
    I don’t accept this for a friend.
    Speak your truth. Make the world uncomfortable. Roar.

  92. Hi Renee, I was doubting if I should leave a reply or not, because who needs another white guilt comment. That said, I’ve been mulling over this post since yesterday. Re-examining our interactions IRL – did I made you felt welcome in NL, did I said/did something that made you feel as the examples above, etc. I recognize myself in the “well-meaning white” description, so yeah, I must have put my foot in the mouth often. I truly apologize.

    How further? I lead a multicultural team at my company, people from different backgrounds and countries, including POC. If anybody had asked, is racism at play within your organization, I’d had a shock reaction (no way! everybody gets along nicely). But your description of the workplace has given me pause. Do my team members feel safe to be themselves at work? Do they change the way they interact with other colleagues to make themselves more palatable? Most likely they’re experiencing microaggressions, but am I signaling that (not really, tbh) and if I do notice, how to stop it?

    It’s definitively not your task to educate me (another lesson learned!) but I do appreciate enormously that you took the time to write this post. I’m paying attention and taking notes, now it’s time to do the work.

    Lots of love from NL.

    • Well, I can tell you something I loved about our trip and that Jordan and I still bring up. Thank you for taking us to Rotterdam and being honest about why you liked it there. It’s weird being from the US and traveling before because people never thought I was American. Maybe I was Canadian or British. But, American was never first. Why? Because I was black. The idea of an American woman was a blonde-haired blue-eyed ideal. But showing us Rotterdam from your perspective, I could see that the Dutch are also not a monolith, like I would have assumed otherwise. I learned from you and Sigrid FOR THE FIRST TIME about the Middle Eastern population in the Netherlands and the challenges they faced. So, I want to thank you for being open with me and showing the Holland you know.

      On Thu, Jun 4, 2020 at 7:26 AM Miss Celie's Pants wrote:

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  93. Thank you so much for this open hearted share! I (white middleaged female in Sweden) can never fully understand what it is to live with and face this “everyday racism” on a daily basis and I feel sorry that anyone has to experience it. I try my best to act when I hear racism or other harrassmental behaviour but I wish I wouldn’t need too. In Sweden there are a lot of racism and right wing sh*t going on now, but not even close as to in the US. I sure hope that Trump is doing his final days in the White house now. My dream president would be Michelle Obama. That’s what USA needs. Keep up your good work and God bless!

    • I’m so sorry about the lasting effects of prejudice that has impacted your life. I believe black people have suffered more than any others races. Here comes the but…like you I also can’t speak up for fear of being politically incorrect. I’m 74 years old raised in a white neighborhood saw very little diversity. The only black people I saw were polite restaurant workers or elevator operators. I certainly heard men in my family using the N word, spic, wop, dego, mick etc. Words they used on each other as well. At 17 my friend and I went to Tennessee to visit my Aunt. Oh boy what an eye opener. My cousins and others were so hateful to black kids either waiting on us or just walking down the street. They could be the poster boys for white privileged as.h..’s.
      Of course they were ashamed of us also as Catholic northerners. I came home hating the south and became an advocate of black people ever since. As the civil rights movement progressed I was thrilled that some of this behavior would stop and it did.People of mixed races started getting married and having children. You say you can’t see the change because you are too young.
      You are not the only person that has been intimidated by people of other races. I accidentally drove into a black area going to work and a group of black teenagers blocked me into a dead end street for about 5 minutes but it. scared me to death. Ok no big deal. My first apartment became integrated no problem. A young black guy started to ask me out. In those days you didn’t date other races or other nationalities. I didn’t even date non Catholics. I said no thank you but he wouldn’t, let it go. He had a girlfriend but loved putting me on the spot.. Then my apartment was robbed by black individuals that took everything of value I owned. I was forced to move when it was longer safe. Those and other things certainly didn’t make me feel that all black people were bad but it certainly made me more cautious and a little wary.
      Now lets talk about today. What can I do today that you can’t? Women of all colors have rights that we could only dream about.. You are educated didn’t grow up in the projects probably have a good job. Married a privileged white supremacist because he’s white and thats just what we do. Hates the President who put more black people to work. Who doesn’t see the black community as helpless. If you tell me that your life has changed one iota since he became President please tell me. Now let me tell what has changed in mine since Mr. Obama was in office. Racial hatred has increased substantially.
      I have a young black friend in her forties who is a caretaker for a Jewish woman tell me that life was better before the Black Lives Matter movement started. She also said that she never experienced the level of discrimination and hatred her elderly Jewish boss had. She worries about all the hatred will affect her kids. Can you imagine what she puts up with bigoted 90 year old. But guess what she accepts they are people raised in ignorance. Does it hurt her feeling yes but her reaction is sympathy for the children who are mortified by this ignorance coming out of their parents mouth.

      I spoke with a black blood technician before the July 4 last year I asked him if he was going to a fireworks display. This was a gentleman in his late 50’s. He said he is afraid to go out at night because of young black punks harassment. His words not mine. I told him how sorry I was because I know what kind of treatment he received because of being black from whites and now he has young black kids treating him just as badly. He started to cry and thanked me for acknowledging what he went through. He held his head up during the white abuse only to be made a prisoner of his neighborhood by black kids. How is that ok? All I could say is bring your family out by me you will be safe and welcome.

      I asked the black team leader of the cleaning crew this morning what her thoughts were. She said don’t kid yourself the black community is full of white people haters and just as prejudice.
      She is disgusted with the black people looters. These are hard working black people that hold no hatred for white people. They don’t like the direction that the black community is going. To them , you are pretty darn privileged.

      Do you know that 59 black people 5 of which were under 5 were murdered by black people in my city this year. Not one black person had enough courage to say or do anything about it. Perhaps you better start pointing the signs toward yourself.
      I’m sorry you are uncomfortable only you can do something about it. How about starting to believe that not all people care about your ethnicity. And promote less crime in the black community so people won’t be afraid. Believe me I won’t let your description of white women in your note offend me. You saying it doesn’t make it true.

      I’ll admit watching those black women and men loot those shoe/athletic store made me ashamed of that element of your community. And I could feel the prejudice rising in my gut.
      Finally you said I’m your black friend and obviously you don’t really feel that way. I only want sincere loving friends that want the best for me and have my back. I don’t think you are there yet. I hope you can get beyond your own prejudice. You are a successful young woman who deserves to be happy, confident and loved by most people if not all.

      PS I have 8 blackish kids in my family who were raised by privileged white people and I think they are the luckiest kids and so do they. And yes they have had their feeling hurt plenty of time just like everybody else if the truth was known. Someone calling you ‘n’ or ugly or stupid or Bucky Beaver stays with people and is hard to overcome no matter the race. I greet and smile at everyone and engage in conversation if desired. Sometimes I’m acknowledged and sometimes I get the look or ignored. I can only be responsible for me. My feeling are never hurt and I meet a lot of lovely people.

      Prejudice is not an American issue. Its a World issue I was in Ireland 2 years ago the Protestants and the Catholics hated each other so much the the Catholic’s were fenced into there neighborhoods up until a few years ago. Some of the fences are still there. Both groups are white and both groups are Christian and yes they still hate each other. In 1994 almost 2 million people were slaughtered between 2 African groups the Hutu vs Tutsi. Same race different tribes. Life long neighbors killed each other.

        • I can only agree.. It’s like those who say “I can’t be racist. I have an african friend.” Whataboutism doesn’t have a place in this commentary field.

      • *A young black guy started to ask me out. In those days you didn’t date other races or other nationalities. I didn’t even date non Catholics. I said no thank you but he wouldn’t, let it go. He had a girlfriend but loved putting me on the spot.. *

        Unclear if you feel this is a black affliction or one of a young man. Because trust, I’ve had similar happen with men of multiple races.

        *Then my apartment was robbed by black individuals that took everything of value I owned. I was forced to move when it was longer safe. *

        My home was also robbed by a drug addict who is also black. But, his race isn’t something I’ve thought to mention as the issue is his drug problem. I also moved, because I am privileged enough to have options about where I can live.

        *Married a privileged white supremacist because he’s white and thats just what we do. Hates the President who put more black people to work. Who doesn’t see the black community as helpless. *

        I’m going to assume this is a typo because I didn’t marry a white supremacist. Or your telling on yourself. This president employment rates prior to the pandemic had everything to do with Obama economic policy. Unfortuntately, the black unemployment rate is still double that of whites. And it now even higher as black tend to be in industries that are more susceptible to the volatility of the market. They are the ones who have lower paying jobs without the protection of unions and professional positions that require an advanced degree.

        *If you tell me that your life has changed one iota since he became President please tell me.*

        My privilege is that my life has not been directly impacted. That privilege does not prevent me from caring about the others around me and within my community who have been. Losing access to healthcare, being told you’re from a shit hole county. Worrying about if your same sex marriage will be in danger. If we all stopped caring and fighting for things that didn’t impact us directly, we would be the shit hole country. Or, we’d go BACK to being the “great America” that he promtes.

        *Now let me tell what has changed in mine since Mr. Obama was in office. Racial hatred has increased substantially.*

        Right, right. Because talking about the historic inequities and systems put in place to benefit white, cisgendered, men is divisive. What that is is real talk, low interest in making people comfortable and being truthful.

        While I think polling is a joke at this point in time, polls do say that under THIS administration, racial tension is in fact up.

        *I spoke with a black blood technician before the July 4 last year I asked him if he was going to a fireworks display. This was a gentleman in his late 50’s. He said he is afraid to go out at night because of young black punks harassment. His words not mine*.

        Did you miss the part where I said I ALSO was terrified the night of the riots? That I ALSO have fear in bad neighborhoods?

        *I asked the black team leader of the cleaning crew this morning what her thoughts were. *

        You cannot expect that someone is going to be honest with you when you are in a position of authority over them. I’d be far more curious to hear what she says to her peers, not what she says to someone she needs to keep a relationship with for her job. I have been her and I know what that’s like.

        *Do you know that 59 black people 5 of which were under 5 were murdered by black people in my city this year. Not one black person had enough courage to say or do anything about it. Perhaps you better start pointing the signs toward yourself.*

        Sister, Baltimore City has 300+ murders a year. The vast majority are young black men. I have attended the marches, the rallies. I have tutored and volunteered. I left a six figure income job so that I could work at an education non profit that serves Baltimore city children. I don’t need to point a sign, I AM A SIGN.

        *I’m sorry you are uncomfortable only you can do something about it. How about starting to believe that not all people care about your ethnicity.*

        Tell me where I said that? I won’t pull out “my best friends are white card”, because I don’t need to.

        *Believe me I won’t let your description of white women in your note offend me. You saying it doesn’t make it true.*

        What is the blanket description of white women? Where is it?

        *I’ll admit watching those black women and men loot those shoe/athletic store made me ashamed of that element of your community*.

        Ashamed means feeling guilty because of one’s actions. You do not feel guilt.

        *Finally you said I’m your black friend and obviously you don’t really feel that way. I only want sincere loving friends that want the best for me and have my back.*

        I sure didn’t. I don’t know you. You are not my friend.

        * I don’t think you are there yet. I hope you can get beyond your own prejudice. You are a successful young woman who deserves to be happy, confident and loved by most people if not all.*

        I hope I can work through my prejudices too. There is also a difference between prejudice, system racism and white supremacy. I know which ones I’ve figured out, I hope you do too.

        *PS I have 8 blackish kids in my family who were raised by privileged white people and I think they are the luckiest kids and so do they.*

        Whoa, whoa, whoa. Not sure how these children came to be in your family, but might be time to look into white savior complex.

        *Prejudice is not an American issue. Its a World issue I was in Ireland 2 years ago the Protestants and the Catholics hated each other so much the the Catholic’s were fenced into there neighborhoods up until a few years ago. Some of the fences are still there. Both groups are white and both groups are Christian and yes they still hate each other. In 1994 almost 2 million people were slaughtered between 2 African groups the Hutu vs Tutsi. Same race different tribes. Life long neighbors killed each other.*

        I also read “Hotel Rwanda”.

        On Thu, Jun 4, 2020 at 1:57 PM Miss Celie's Pants wrote:

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  94. trump must go. Fox news that feeds into the reason that this idiot is accepted has to GO! Racism exists and I do try to check mine but everyone prejudges. I hope my prejudices are not based on color. I do know that if I see someone participating in one of my interests I have positive reactions regardless of any other observations. One of my pet peeves is when someone is telling an event that they mention a persons color when it has no bearing on the story, totally different than if asked to describe someone. In that case race would be a justifiable mention.
    Sorry that racism exists and that you feel judged by your race. What you wrote is moving. I don’t want to insert a “but” here, but, we all play different roles around different groups that we associate with. And not to take away from your feelings or to derail/equate, would you pre-judge me based on the fact that I appear of lower socioeconomic background?

    • Hi Diana, you’ve made a really good point. I do believe we all have our prejudices. And if I’m being honest, I definitely used to judge (and maybe still have to check myself) based on socioeconomic background. Many years ago I dated a white male plumber. He as from a part of town known for being poor and white. Until him, I didn’t think of those folks as people with families, lives, dreams goals, etc. I admittedly based this off of my perception of how that community treated the Black people (there’s a wedge there populated by professors from a nearby HBCU and they called it “N**** Hill”. I am still somewhat nervous or anxious, concerned I’ll be seen as “uppity”. I remember defending his friends who were neighbors to friends of mine. I don’t recall exactly, but they made a comment about them being “trash”. And I felt for the first time how unfair an assumption that was because there where ugly family dynamics and drug addiction involved. Those things didn’t make them less human. Change the color of their skin, and another word would have been used to describe them. Similarly, I’ve had to work on the same biases toward other Black people who don’t talk like me. So, yes. We all have work to do.

      • Thank you Sewing Friend ;~) I was so afraid that my comments would be misunderstood. I do feel that moving forward involves honest self evaluation and questioning our gut reactions. We are not born hating but we learn to assimilate so we must surround ourselves with better behavior models than those that spew a separatism agenda,

        • I love this dialogue between the two of you Diana. I wish we could all do this. It’s what’s needed. No one should have to feel afraid to share for fear being misunderstood, And when you’re dealing with reasonable people, it will be easier to have discussions even to deal with misunderstandings. Renee, thank you for starting this discussion!

  95. Thank you for taking the time to write this. Living in a conservative white male dominant area, I have seen the behavior you describe daily. Sometimes I have been the target, most times not. God love you for your eloquence, your passion and your grace in dealing with the thousands of small acts of unkindness. I have been in awe of your skill in creating the gorgeous clothing for years. I am more in awe of you now. Thank you.

  96. I am so glad you wrote this. It’s what a lot of us white women need to read. I agree, this president needs to go. I have been watching this train wreck since before he got elected. He showed his racism from the beginning with all of his hateful words towards the Latino population. I watched how Facebook was complicit in his election, and how he has used disinformation to blind a whole bunch of people. I can do more to become a better white friend. I will be reading and listening. I also know that there may be times that I need to speak up more in my community. I am afraid to do that because I happen to be a liberal living in a conservative county, but I have to do it. I know you and your husband have been married for a while now. As I read this, I was just praying that you are able to be honest with him. I hope you have someone you can be completely yourself with. Thanks for sharing all the sewing over the years. God Bless.

    • Oh, yes. It’s hard. I used to watch the Civil Rights movement on TV and I was SO SURE I’d be out there fighting on the front lines, doing sitins, protesting. I’m now not so sure what I would do. And, looking back at my actions over the years, I’m not sure I’ve stood up the way I needed to.

      I didn’t talk too much about my husband in this post, and perhaps should have more. I think Jordan’s Judaism weirdly has connected us far more than I would have imagined. Prior to college, Jews were just other white people to me. I didn’t think anything at all about them — probably because I didn’t grow up around any Jews. Starting in college, I would hear the slick remarks made, the slurs from both the black and and white community. I left college with two very good Jewish friends. Went on to do some work about black and Jewish relations. Continued to work with more Jews in City government. As my exposure to the Jewish community grew, so do my ability to relate and understand.

      There was a time that I would have told you “I wouldn’t date someone Jewish”. That changed because of Jordan (and I also got personally less religious myself in that differing religions wouldn’t be as much a factor for me). In him, I met someone who I could see the ways in which they felt apart from mainstream culture. His being “othered” gave him the insight into my world. We are both products of immigrant families — his from Germany’s Holocaust, mine from the West Indies. We both have growth and learning, but I can unequivocally say he’s been at my side, my heart and my strength. I could not have married him if race, culture and religion were things we weren’t comfortable talking about.

      On Thu, Jun 4, 2020 at 8:59 AM Miss Celie's Pants wrote:

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  97. When will you be able to speak your mind other places besides your blog? When will you be able to stop being careful about what you say in order to keep your job or maintain your lifestyle? I have always kept my mouth shut about a great many things. My husband works with the public and has to keep his mouth shut or lose his job. When my husband and I retire we will be able to talk back. However, we both know we will have fewer “friends” and be talked about behind our backs. We live in a small town and will probably leave after he retires.

    I agree with you, especially, about Trump. Thank you for taking the time to tell us what you have gone through and do go through now. I don’t know what to say to encourage you. Whatever it is would be too inadequate. Just know that I would be glad to listen to you any time.

  98. Thank you for writing this and for sharing your truth. I am just one (white) woman, but I heard you.

  99. Beautifully put. In particular I appreciate you highlighting all the ways that your righteous indignation about mistreatment gets turned around by offended, defensive white friends into you having to make them feel better. This is at the root of the problem: You, as an African-American, don’t matter as much as White Americans’ self-regard. The histrionics, the defensiveness, the “explanations” — they’re all just a form of gaslighting, tactics to preserve white America’s ideas that we’re just, we’re the silent good guy in the white hat coming to the rescue, we’re the Knights in Shining Armor. I’m not saying these tactics are done consciously or even on purpose. Maybe the fact that they’re unconscious is more troubling. The point is that now is the time for America to start getting real with itself and acknowledge our own evil shadow, to acknowledge that for Black Americans everyday life can turn into a horror story at the drop of a dime and through no fault of their own, even while engaged in the most ordinary activities in their own homes. When a group of armed white men can erupt into a state Capitol and go unpunished while an unarmed Black guy is murdered in broad daylight while jogging, to name just 2 examples, one has to be blind or insane (or Trumpian) to deny that Kafkaesque scenario isn’t a reality. Just keep writing and making us uncomfortable. We white skinned Americans have to grow a spine and develop the intestinal fortitude to deal with the truth about ourselves we don’t want to acknowledge.

    • THIS!!! I am just seething in rage over this-I saw, not very long ago, white men with large caliber weapons openly carrying and screaming in the face of police, in a government building, because of their outrage over a few minor inconveniences like wearing a mask and not making unnecessary excursions from your home. I cannot escape the knowledge that if a group of heavily armed black men had done this they’d have been killed on the spot. I saw a white woman hanging out of a vehicle screeching about her rights at a nurse blocking an intersection. If a black woman had done this she’d be called all manner of things, and would have had some pretty disparaging comments about her hair. You’re so right. We need to be conscious of these things, as white people-if you can’t see a black person doing what you’re about to do, take a moment and reflect on why that is. We have to stop demanding black people change, because we keep moving the goal posts.

  100. Thank-you for what you wrote. But part of what you said brings negativity to the whole situation. For one thing ALL LIVES matter! You stated that this country was established on white supremacy. Did you know that the “founding fathers” were tormented over slavery and wanted it to end and they were stressed over the Native American relations. People forget that it was “whites” who fought for the slaves and wanted slavery to end. I think it’s gravely wrong to compare what happened 300 or 400 years ago to today. It was a different culture where even women couldn’t vote. Actually blacks had the right to vote first and then women got the right to vote. Women were like property as much as black back in the day. I ‘m so grateful that things have changed for the better. It;s a shame that the act of ONE person (or a few people) now labels everyone. Praying for you.

    • We said ==> Black lives matter
      We never said ==> Only Black lives matter
      We KNOW ==> All lives matter

      We just need your help with #blacklivesmatter

      Because Black lives are in danger

    • If that were true and the founding fathers were so tormented about slavery, then this country would’ve been founded slavery free. It would have been very easy to add that to the Constitution. Don’t fool yourself, this nation was built on slavery and white supremacy. Why is it so difficult to say Black Lives Matter? Is it because they don’t matter to you? Instead of listening and hearing someone’s pain and struggle why are you discounting their experience? Maybe you should pray for some inner growth.

      Black Lives Matter.

    • Carol, your response tells me so much about how history was taught in school. If slavery was so terrible, and the founding fathers were so stressed and wanted it to end, why did they chose to have a country where slavery was the law of the land until the Civil War? And then, why was Jim Crow allowed to exist? I am not here to give you a history lesson. But, might I suggest you do some additional reading about the impacts of those laws? Women’s suffragete movements also didn’t want to align themselves with the right of blacks to vote. And even after blacks were given the vote, local laws continued to change to prevent them from voting. What was the Civil Rights movement? What were the Montgomery boycotts? What were poll taxes? I am not comparing what happened 400 years ago. I am talking about the systems that were put in place then that still reverbrate today. I will pray for you too.

  101. Hi! Thank you for writing. I love following you and I wish we lived in the same city! Keep on! Best, giuls @gioiaisme

  102. Thank you. All my life I’ve been well meaning but clueless. The election of that vile abomination in the White House opened my eyes and they won’t be closed again.

  103. I love people of all color and have my whole life. In high school my best friend was Black American. We decided to go to the same college and were room mates. She is still is a best friends. I have lived in different places in the South and have observed some terrible racism. Every person white, black, pink or purple should go to the Civil Rights Museum in Birmingham. It will bring you to your knees. I am white but not raised in a family with prejudices. While living in Atlanta and Birmingham I met lots of ladies of color. I so wanted to be better friends with them but they were never interested. So I have to say why not, what’s wrong with me? I wish I knew the answer. In a quote by a fantastic Black American author Zora Neale Hurston the says “”Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.”. I wish I knew the answer for myself.
    Kindly thank you for reading my post. Tana

  104. I’m fighting off tears here, because it is so unfair that anyone has to live with this constant anxiety, the knowledge that they do not seem to matter as much in the world, TO so much of the world. Thank you for sharing your experiences. That must have been tremendously difficult to do, I literally cannot imagine trying to convey this myself and I think you did a wonderful job because honestly my heart is broken. I’m going to read this a few more times, there’s a lot to process and some soul searching I need to do.

  105. While living the Dallas area my husband and I had many Latina friends I am white. My company gave us and hour each week to mentor a child in school. I chose a hispanic girl, 4th grade who needed help with reading and spelling. No one in her family cold help her. After a few weeks I made a list of questions like getting to know her and filled out one for myself to give her. You know her favorite color, food etc. The last question was what did she want to be when she grew up. She wrote a maid like her Mom whom she loved very much. I did not question her answer. When I got up to leave she said I would really like to be a doctor but said she could not because she was from Mexico. That week I copied articles of female doctors who were from Mexico. I was able to mentor her to the end of high school. I helped her find ways to get scholarships etc. Today she is a doctor with a family herself. We are in touch regularly. I wanted to do this in other states but they would not allow it. I don’t know why as I was never paid just volunteered. Reach out and touch a life of all people. Be happy with yourself. God made you special and always be proud. You are beautiful!!!!!! Tana

    • This brought tears to my eyes. I’m not going to get all the details here right. But, I was watching a video on transracial adoption. The woman was born in Guatemala and adopted in the US. In elementary school, her mom asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. She said, “work at a fast food restaurant”. That made sense to her, because that’s what people who looked like her did for a living. She said after that, she had Hispanic doctors, dentists, tutors — the whole nine. Thank you for helping her see what else she could be!

      On Thu, Jun 4, 2020 at 11:10 AM Miss Celie's Pants wrote:

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      • Thank you for your kindness. From all your writing here I wish you were closer so I could sew with you. Where I live there are no sewing classes at all. You truly are a beautiful person inside and out. Tana in Tennessee

  106. My husband gave his life for this country. He volunteered raised his hand and a took an oath to do this. Not the President or Anyone in Congress takes this oath. His oath was for all not for “one race”. I miss him and love him dearly. No one in Congress, either party is anyone’s friend at one time maybe that was true. If we all insisted on 2 year limits for all in Congress things would change. For ANY who want to be President rich or poor there should be a set amount of money given to them and not given the ability to take additional money from anyone. This way the field would be fair there would no longer be these little kingdoms of just very wealthy politicians all parties. There is a group of people trying to put this before Congress but do you think they would vote themselves out of a job???

    The thing that hurt most if what recent protestors sprayed in the WWII Memorial they wrote “Do Black Vets Matter?” They had no idea how many WWII Vets were black and died for this country? Very sad!

    I strive to know as much about ALL people. What white middle class American do you know decided to read the Quran in English cover to cover? I did it to understand all.

  107. Thank you! I am a white middle aged woman that found your blog years ago because of my love of sewing. I am so grateful for you, for sharing your experiences and your voice. My daughter is married to a wonderful young man of color. We love him but I sometimes forget that his life experiences are so different from ours. I think he is sometimes afraid to let us know how he feels, but I want him to feel comfortable. He has shared things with me occasionally and it breaks my heart what he has gone through, but I feel blessed that he will share them with me. I have been listening carefully the last few weeks, to hear other voices and I hope that I can still learn.

  108. Thank you for this. I hope all white people, not just in the US, wake up and finally shed the blinders. We don’t need to go back to normal if normal is so harmful for so many.

  109. thank you for sharing your experiences in this post, so beautifully written. This week I’ve learned how much I wasn’t aware of and will continue to seek out information. One of my personal focuses right now is the election and working to change the administration, to get back to some semblance of dignity and competence in our national government.

  110. That is a heavy weight to carry. I hope you find ways to make it lighter for you. Thanks for being honest and posting these feelings. You are my sewing inspiration and I love reading about your projects and your sewing skills. I’m always in awe of you when I see you IRL and hope I’m not too much of a fan girl. Keep on keeping on and I’ll do what I can too.

  111. Thank you for your humbling words, Renee. This is the first time I have read your blog. Not sure how I missed it, but the title drew me in today. I am horrified that “this” keeps going on. So many times I’ve said to my husband, “This is the 21st century for crying out loud!” Last night I listened to a wonderful conversation between a black pastor and a white pastor who are best friends. Their ideas and suggestions for changing the current racist environment are very similar to yours. I have vowed, as a middle class American white woman to do all I can to promote love of all mankind. Thank you for opening your heart. I look forward to reading more from you. You are my new black friend.

  112. To help those who did not know that in the Founding of this Country there are many Black Patriots these are some of the most famous.

    Approximately 5,000 Black Men served in the Revolutionary War as Patroits

    Crispus Attucks was the first black Patriot to loose this life in the war.

    Phyllis Wheatley, Patriot Poet
    Was a revolutionary intellectual who waged a war for freedom with her words. Captured as a child in West Africa, then taken to North America and enslaved, Wheatley had an unusual experience in bondage: Her owners educated her and supported her literary pursuits. In 1773, at around age 20, Wheatley became the first African American and third woman to publish a book of poetry in the young nation. Shortly after, her owners freed her.

    Peter Salem, Colonial Hero
    Salem earned his place in history for his role in one the most important Revolutionary War fights, the 1775 Battle of Bunker Hill.

    James Armistead Lafayette, the Double Agent
    When Armistead joined the Patriots’ efforts, they assigned him to infiltrate the enemy. So he pretended to be a runaway slave wanting to serve the crown, and was welcomed by the British with open arms.

    The First Rhode Island Regiment, Integrated Revolutionary Force
    The First Rhode Island Regiment, the first Continental Army unit largely comprised of New England blacks, showcased African Americans’ skill as soldiers and commitment to their brethren on the battlefield.

    I hope this helps. Tana

  113. I’ve been thinking about you, dear heart since I read your post. I feel badly for you. Very badly. What can I do, or rather, what can I offer you to help you heal. And to go forward in peace. I can offer you two women that have helped me see things differently, and allowed me to go forward with a clearer perspective about the world, and how I navigate in it.

    First, Toni Morrison. For me, she’s one of, if not THE best writer of her, and plenty of other generations. I can offer you her books. I’m sure you’ve probably read some if not all. But as important as those are, I can offer you her interviews. Her thoughts about black people and their position in the world. Her views about us and her love of her people has been and is a constant help to me. Perhaps it can be to you, as well.

    Throughout my teen years and beyond, my favorite novel was Ralph Ellisons’ “Invisible Man”. For me it was nothing short of a tour-de-force in the canon of literature written by African Americans. Until I heard what Toni Morrison had to say about it. Which was…”invisible to whom?” Renee, I got it right away. She didn’t have to say the next sentence, which is….”because I see you.” And to continue the thought….”Why isn’t that enough?”

    Do you see what she was getting at? Here’s an YouTube video that shows what she meant:

    What she’s saying is, dear heart, that what white people think about black people, and more importantly, black people giving over their power to them was something that was totally uninteresting to her. She didn’t want their approval. It had NO PLACE in her life, thusly, it had no place in her work. She referred to it as “The White Gaze.”

    White reviewers called her work “racist”. But it wasn’t. She just wrote about the people she knew, celebrated and loved.

    You, dear one, live your life worried about the white gaze. Now, I’m not talking about oppression and systemic racism, that societal kind of thing. I’m talking about the kind of racism that affects you when you go home and close your door, the kind that sits with you when you’re having your morning coffee, that stares back at you when you look in the mirror and says…you don’t look like us, you’re not good enough..

    That kind. Toni Morrison gave me, when I heard her say….”invisible to whom?” a new way of seeing what was right in front of my face the whole time, and that I knew instinctively. And that is…no one has control over how you feel about yourself, Renee, unless you buy into what they’re saying. I say again, baby; DON’T let those who…white…black…red with green polka dots….would try and convince you that you are “less than”….IN ANY WAY…win. Just don’t do it. It’s soul killing.

    This is a question I’ve often found that I’ve had to ask myself over the years, when encountering people who I see that don’t have my best interests or well-being in mind, big or small, for whatever reason:

    “If this is as much as you think of me, then why am I worried about you?”

    Renee, that goes for people I just meet, or those that I know well and everybody in between. That’s not to say that I immediately write folk off. But what it does mean is that I see that they have some sort of agenda….racism, greed, jealousy, whatever…and I have to steel my mind and heart to be able to deal with them so that I can continue to thrive.

    Understand something here, Renee. In YOUR LIFE, it’s YOUR OPINION ABOUT YOU that matters. NOT what white people think about you. They didn’t worry about whether or not you would be safe during the riots in Baltimore. Well, YOU worried about yourself, and took steps to keep yourself safe. THAT’S what mattered. They don’t pay your bills. What they think about you as far as your personal life, the kind of woman you are…DOES NOT MATTER unless you allow it to.

    The next woman that helped me see things differently is, as it turns out, another writer. J K Rowling. Her books about magic and magical people is of course, geared for and to, children. But, I suggest that she wrote a metaphor about people in general. That being that we are all magical.

    I came to this realization while at work. I worked with a woman, and older white woman who was an unabashed straight-up, racist. She was short in stature, and just one of the most mean spirited (never mind the racism) people that I’d ever encountered. And, listening to her narratives about her life (poor white…I mean DIRT poor Irish Catholic) I could see that she was greedy.

    One day, I can’t remember what Delores had been going on about, something hit me like a ton of bricks. About that time, one of the Potter films was in theatres, so Harry etal was in the zeitgeist. Delores had been raving about money or something, and a notion came to me. “Delores is a GOBLIN!!” I mean, not only did she talk like a goblin….she looked like one!!!! It was amazing to me that Rowling had so aptly described in a children’s book, a real human being. Which got me thinking about the idea of “magic”.

    Ever been in a funky mood and have someone…a complete stranger let’s say…just happen by with a smile and a “how are you?” And maybe, for just a little while, your mood lightens a bit? Well, that’s magic.

    Albus Dumbledore said this: “Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our greatest source of magic. Capable of both inflicting harm, and remedying it.”

    Magic can be wielded in lots of different ways. Through words, deeds, lots of ways. The trick is, Renee, to learn how to counter the bad (spells) that those that would do you harm can emit.

    I implore you, dear lady. Understand what it is that you’re ALLOWING to happen. Break the spell that those who would see you hurt, for no other reason than it strokes their egos and twisted senses of self.

    Take back your power, baby. You can do it. I know you can.

  114. ‘White privilege doesn’t mean your life hasn’t been hard. It just means the color of your skin isn’t one of the things that makes it harder.’ This was shared by JImmy KImmel and I think defines the concept of ‘white privlege very well. God bless you.

  115. As a white women from the north, I believe much of your anger comes from living in the south. When my husband was stationed in Charleston, SC, I met discrimination first hand. Having grown up in the north in a multicultural society I was not prepared. My last name is green. Prospective employers just assumed I was black. I had several interviews where the hiring official was visually upset when I walked in. Actually had some say that I was the most qualified, but they couldn’t hire me as they needed a minority for affirmative action. Since I would talk to anyone, White people would say they couldn’t be friends with me. Black people didn’t want anything to do with me. White people called me a carpetbagger or redneck, black people called me a cracker and a redneck. It sure was strange to find out what A redneck was. Truly not who I am. It was an education. I find the emphasis on race to be very limiting. I don’t see Donald trump as being a white supremacist. He’s just a New Yorker with a big mouth. He has no filter just like most NYers, but I don’t see him as being racist. He also isn’t sexist as he pays women and men based on performance, unlike Obama who paid men more then women in the same level position.

    • There’s a thing that black people say about whatever region in America they find themselves in, Meg. There’s “Up South”, and there’s “Down South”. Tamron Hall is from a small town in Texas. She’s stated that New York City is far more racist of a place than Texas ever was. And girl, if you don’t see donald trump as racist, then you need to get yourself a (new) pair of glasses. ‘Cause that’s exactly what he is.

      • I think this has to do with open racisim vs the small kind you have to figure out. I mean, look at what happened in New York when blacks started to migrate from the south.

        • I think that there’s lots of openly racist people in the North. Mike Bloombergs’ “stop and frisk” policy while he was mayor; that he tried unsuccessfully to explain away by being sorry that the policy “affected the black and brown communities.” Not that he was sorry that it TARGETED those communities. That’s like hitting someone in the face, and being sorry that they got a black eye.

          Not that “the small kind that you have to figure out”, isn’t debilitating as well. But, the obvious, overt racism occurs everywhere. South and North. Just look at what happened to Christian Cooper. Amy Cooper (no relation) could’ve very likely gotten him killed, but for the cell phone footage. Now, if he’d of been a white guy, the steps she took to counter his request to simply put her dog on it’s leash would not have even occurred to her. And this is a “liberal” white woman.

  116. Please in your prayers say some for the Black Owned Business people. They have worked some a lifetime to start a business and now they are being looted and or burned. I have seen these people in videos and on the news crying. Breaks my heart too. This one lady I just wished I could have hugged her and helped her clean up what was left.

  117. PLEASE do not hate me because I am White. We are not all racists. I do not want to be lumped into a group of people. There is good and bad in all. Why Please as a white women, why do black women not want to be a friend. I have reached out and tried so very hard. I’m being very serious. I was born and grew up on a farm in Illinois where there was one school for all colors. Once moved South and all this changed. If you have an answer any white or black women please reply. With my thanks and kindness to all. Tana

    • I think this is a longer question that I’m not in a position to answer as my closest friends are white. That said, it may be from feeling as though they can’t be open. Built up fear and a lack of desire to break that down themselves.

      • I seriously don’t think they fear me. While living in Detroit and out to dinner with a group of friends black and white I asked what everyone thought about OJ and Nicole. This was the news during the time. We all had a great discussion about it. I am an extremely open person. In fact if I am in a group or a meeting and sense someone not participating and being left out. I try to figure something out that would draw them in. I think the bigger issue as in the South black people and white do not live in the same neighborhoods, very sad. Maybe the fear is coming to where I lived. After living in the South we moved to Detroit. Integrated neighborhoods wonderful. Not sure where you live. I am happy you have all color friends.I smile a whole lot both to friends and anyone walking toward on the street.

  118. Thank you for your post. Pointing out the daily microaggressions is what white people need to see. I work for a city government that has done a fair bit of equity work. In unpacking responses and going to workshops, I am amazed at the depth and breadth of the institutional racism that we want to eliminate. As a middle aged middle class white woman, there is so much privilege that I have been entirely unaware of. I don’t pretend to be ‘woke’, but I’ll do my best for you.

  119. Oh Renee, thank you for this post. Yours was one of the first sewing blogs I followed back in 2008 (?) & I hope with all my heart you can feel safe to be the ‘whole’ you on & off line. Sending all love & solidarity from the UK x

  120. Thank you so much for this small insight into your experiences as a black woman in a racist world. I truly thought my work was done as an anti-racist, anti-Trump white citizen, however, it is clear I have been completely in the dark about the extent of racism in the U.S. I am in shock and horror after reading countless blogs from sweet sewing bloggers who always appeared so happy and lovely in their sewing makes while under the surface, they have had experiences much like yours and often much worse. It is horrible how this all had to come about, however, had you spoke of this earlier, there may not have been so many people ready to listen. There are many like me who didn’t know they had so much to learn so again, I thank you for sharing. By the way, I have been fighting the urge to comment on everyone’s blogs and Instagram post but rather just stop and listen, however, today I gave into my urge.

  121. Thank you for sharing about your life here. It is work. I hope that you are lifted by the people you have impacted here.

  122. Beautifully said, Renee. I’ve never been much of a writer and have a hard time articulating my thoughts, but wanted you to know that you are in my thoughts. I hope I haven’t been clueless around you too often, and I apologize for when I have been. xoxo

    • Thank you! I actually think I’m not tht great at articulating my personal thoughts either. I usually have feelings. Jordan said I actually just need time to mull things over to figure out what I’m trying to say.

  123. Thank you so much for writing this, opening this to comments, and being so thoughtful in your responses. I wish you luck in your quest to be fully yourself, not The Black Friend, taking on the job of making everyone comfortable with the confusing and destructive racial dynamics that are the result of centuries of racism.

  124. I don’t know how to sew and just found your IG post (and blog) tonight. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences. So sad but also so meaningful and important for all of us to hear. My heart breaks when reading your story. Keep sharing and inspiring us to be better and do better. Take care and be well.

  125. This is perhaps the most poignant story I’ve read over the past few days. I read it when you first published it and I needed time to sit with it. Peace to you and I pray that we will recognize the need to treat all with humanity, dignity and grace.

  126. Thank you for sharing this. I have no comment that wouldn’t be about me and how I grew up in a small town in North Dakota, knowing nothing about race. It’s not about me…

  127. From another longtime reader, thank you for speaking and sharing your truth. Please know that I keep returning to your blog because of your deep mentschlichtkeit (Yiddish for “genuine personhood/tremendous presence as a human being;” definition included for benefit of any other readers unfamiliar with this word–not because I thought you needed it!). Your blog communicates warmth, enthusiasm, integrity, and resolve. I hope this doesn’t sound like the Black Friend role you want to stop playing. I wish you years of deep thoughts and the satisfaction of expressing them clearly, without self-censorship.

    P.S. I’m another woman eager to vote against #45 this November.

  128. Renee, Thank you for writing this. Your words are powerful. I recently watched a video of Jane Elliott asking white people in an audience (loosely quoting here) to stand up if they would be happy to be treated as this society in general treats Black citizens. When not a single person stood she says it’s clear they know what’s happening, they know they don’t want it for themselves, then says she wants to know why they’re so willing to accept it or to allow it to happen for others. That kind of directness is necessary and I’d like to see a lot more of it. Bravo on not wanting to go through life making people comfortable. Anyone not uncomfortable right now – well, there just aren’t words to adequately convey that level of willful ignorance. Thank you for speaking to what is so.

  129. ❤ Thank you! Strong and beautiful writing, from a strong and beautiful source! I'm so grateful for your blog, and the sewing blogs of other Black women. I live in a liberal enclave and it's currently drenched with white tears, like this all a big surprise, and even now that my white community FINALLY noticed white supremacy and the legacy/ongoing acts of enslavement, disenfranchisement, brutality and hate (I'm feeling frustrated with my nearest and dearest, you can maybe tell), I think there's a LOT missing from the conversation. Like, the complete personhood of Black people. And style is a part of that complete personhood, and one I'm happy and grateful to experience through blogs like yours! Thoughtful, open writing like this post is an additional gift.

  130. Dear Renee, I absolutely loved your post. I have 5 half black grandchildren are are all adults now, and they have been sharing these same kinds of thoughts. I”m honored to have them teach me what their journey has been, which is similar to yours. There is no question that I live with white privilege and even though I love them to death, the situation is now such that I am truly learning and understanding how, without doing anything overt, my life is so different than theirs. Again, like many others, I thank you for your bravery and for help me to understand

  131. Reading this I thought: you must be bloody knackered.

    Closely followed by frustration that people have to be shown practical examples to understand the reality of the situation, and that the people having to provide that information are the very people that have borne the brunt of it already. In case it’s unclear, please know my frustration is not directed at you Renee. It’s very much at the situation/ system/ my part in that.

    I’ve still got lots to work on myself, but in the hopes it helps others, some of the resources I’ve found really useful are:
    “Why I’m no longer taking to white people about race”, Reni Eddo-Lodge
    “Blink” and “Outliers”, Malcolm Gladwell
    The conscious kid Instagram account
    Taika Waititi’s “give nothing to racism” video: https://youtu.be/g9n_UPyVR5s
    Courses in recognising unconscious bias.

    Thank you for sharing your experience. Sending you support from the UK, along with hope that the next elections bring changes for both our countries.

    • Damn it, forgot to mention the works of Maya Angelou – what a humbling read they were. Also excellent prompts for self reflection (when have I ever felt this way, what has perfected me from it, how much of that was circumstance, and what was the root of said circumstance etc etc). The learning continues

  132. I am so sorry about the treatment you suffered and the black community, and will not make a statement of how you should feel compared to me…. as I know you probably wouldn’t do the same to me, you seem very insightful. It helps reading your experience, I feel helpless in the black community to be honest….. I don’t know where I would be fit in really? Does my support really matter to the black community? I feel like I’m really not wanted? Does that feeling stop me from supporting you, absolutely not, but I don’t want to offend the black community, I was raised in Hollywood in the 1960’s by semi- hippies that racist attitudes were never wittiness disrespect anyone. My parents were very strict about that…..so I grew up never seeing color, I thought everyone was just like me, I had a lot of very difficult experiences in life that effects many races…….abuse, poverty, no education…… but I never saw it as a race problem or even a poverty problem…. it doesn’t take money to be a good person and hard work is not always rewarded with money….. so my mom really drove home the way to a better life is understanding what matters…… are you doing everything you can do to help yourself and others? There are moments in life that move the direction of your life…..make better decisions, like Maya Angelou “ when you know better, you do better”….. my point here is …….Is have my support of any value at this time, or am I just looked down upon because I’m white…..or like anything in life…… most people would love my support and a few not so much? I have been a victim of black assault twice four years apart by teens, it was a rude awakening to me and didnt think of race the first time, but the second time they me a nasty name I was 24 years old on my way to work stopping for food, the Police caught them, and I choose not to press charges because they were so young and dead so much of life ahead of them…. but I never thought about hating black people…. never …… but now if I see a bunch of young men any color in hoodies, and aggressive Behavior I walk the other way….. life is different now, that has nothing to do with race, color, some people are unkind……it is a different world….. I personally support you…..you are brave and courageous and just be you, in all your glory and id love to know you with out the filter…. But remember good manners is never a sign of weakness….. actually it’s strength…..the world would be a better place if we had better manners with everyone…..❤️. Be proud of who you are….. there will never be Another you….. that is a big deal if you think about it…..

  133. Hi Celie, l love and admire your article and feel compassion but also a little embarrassed. We live in a white bubble on the Sunshine Coast in Canada in a tiny village. Our problems are stray cats, bears and making sure the hummingbird feeder is full of water……maybe a little extreme. My husband fundraisers for the kids in need at Christmas and I made a few quilts to raise money for the foodbank and the women shelter. My husband is American and follows the written news daily. We have long talks with close friend about our American neighbours and worry. Just know that we are thinking and feeling for your country. Thank you for your post!

  134. I thank you for telling your story. I’ve recently read another woman’s story. The little things. The big things. It’s a constant drip drip drip of terrible. It weighs on your soul. Your very being. And it has to stop. I can understand people of color not wanting to make waves, to not sound like a complainer. Now’s the time to complain. This has got to stop. We need to hear more stories like yours. A change has got to come. Most white people are ignorant of what most black people have to endure. We need to hear more stories like yours. I am outraged. AND we need to vote that bleeping moron out of the white house. STAT.

    • Hey Tana,

      These comments are kind of veering to things I think are better discussed on a news site as I have not spoken at all about protesters or looting. I will also add that I too am watching the news and there is a lot of debate about who the looters are vs protesters and where they come from.

      On Fri, Jun 5, 2020 at 2:32 PM Miss Celie's Pants wrote:

      >

  135. Thank you for your thoughtful essay. You’ve left me with a lot to think about and I appreciate you taking the time to write this; it could not have been easy to revisit some of the events you shared with us. Please keep sharing if you can, but I understand if you don’t want to. I feel so fortunate to know you.

  136. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m sorry. I am committed to the 3 steps you suggested in your post.
    I’m happy to have a new friend. With love & hugs
    “What lies ahead remains a mystery for all of us, but that is the miracle of why we are here.” Oprah

  137. Hey everyone, thank you for the dialogue over the past 36 hours. I’m going to close the comments now. I’m moderating another site and busy with work. I’d like to catch up with the comments here and need some time to do so. If you’d like to email me, please do at miss celies pants at Gmail dot com.

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