February is Black History Month. I spend a lot of time in the multi-cultural community. It has taught me a richness and realness that I’d never experienced before. As we started this website and blog, we wanted to tell story, and be vulnerable and authentic. As we began to write, the scary nature of doing those things became very apparent. The “What If’s” began to creep into the edges of my psyche. A month or so ago, a friend shared with me an article responding to a book called Girl, Wash Your Face, which was all about curated imperfection. She asked me to ponder it: what were my thoughts? I began to dwell on time with my beloved multi-cultural community, and how we are all trying to curate imperfection on social media and in our lives today.
All I could think about as I read this article were my black and brown friends. They would just laugh and say to me: “Who the hell has time for curated imperfection? That is just white privilege BS”. May we all take a moment and see through another’s lens. In doing so, we learn to understand, love, and see that we are all more alike than different. To all my black and brown friends: I love you, I see you, and you teach me so much. May we step back and learn from you and about your history, beauty, and struggles.
After reading the above article and wanting to scream, I began to write my thoughts: “Ahhh, may this help me stay on course with vulnerability and authenticity, even when, and especially when, it is gritty. The article screamed white privilege, shame, the guilt game, and the phony approach to how we present ourselves to the world and online.“
Thank you, my friend, for kindly calling me on the very same shit. Even after all the vision and intentional building of the “story”, I fell into this trap because it is far safer to hide behind my whiteness, affluence, and all the ways that I have been given a head start. When we become vulnerable and real, others will feel safe enough to do the same. We can then lead each other to self-care, self-love, and justice. Any group who is systemically and racially perceived in the general public’s eye as “less than” especially needs this support.
It was stunning to me that I altered my biography and story to fit the mold of the very place that made me feel so “less than”. I wasn't the perfect size three and didn’t want to do the Bainbridge game of “who’s who parties”, but rather, spend time with the lost, lonely, hurting, and hungry, beautiful teenagers of Bremerton. They were the first real people I had spent time with in years. In this way, my move from the island to Bremerton was very intentional.
After the pretense of my perfect marriage and Bainbridge life, I couldn’t play the game anymore. I needed the space to just be messy and real, not pretty and perfect. The beautiful brown and black young adults and families were some of the most authentic humans I've ever had the honor of being in a relationship with. They don't have the privilege of “curated imperfection”, but are just trying to survive. Many, young and grown, are trying to find an education, jobs, shelter, and someone, anyone, to be in their corner. Being in their corner means hearing, and attempting to understand and hold the hardships that racism and lack of financial extravagance heap on their lives. When I hear the author of Girl, Wash Your Face, Rachel Hollis’ “prosperity faith” and f*king platitudes, I wanted to throw up a little bit. It is harmful, shaming, and perpetuates the division: “who is in and who is out.”
I read many of Osheta Moore’s blog posts and work. She is an amazing woman who gets it! She actually worked for the Girl, Wash Your Faceteam for a short while. In my honest opinion, I am sure it made her furious. The counter story and the one I think we need to keep speaking and leaning into is authenticity and vulnerability, which is the polar opposite of curated imperfection.
I just finished a book last night that had my mind bent in a pretzel. The book is I’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown. She is an astounding, young African American author and speaker. I had the pleasure of meeting her in Washington D.C. at a social justice conference about four years ago. She blew my mind then, and her new book is brutally hard to read, yet so very powerful and spot on. She speaks of reconciliation rather than curated imperfection as follows:
“Reconciliation is the pursuit of the impossible - an upside down world where those who are powerful have relinquished the power to the margins. It's reimagining an entirely different way of being with one another. Reconciliation requires imagination. It requires looking beyond what “is” to what “could be”. It looks beyond intentions to real outcomes, real hurts, real histories, and story. Vulnerability, the ability to give up feigned imperfection allows us to be in a position to see our blind spots and help build up, stand in the gap for and be in a relationship with other authentic souls…. that is what we are about…”
Thank you, readers, subscribers, and community for your fearless pursuit and leadership to help us truly do something different here at Mo-Minski. May we continue to showcase the beautiful people in and around our community, tell their stories, and ours. The world is begging for authenticity, especially now in a time that is as messy as it is. We are brave and a little bit crazy for attempting to do so - the work is beautiful, real, and scary as hell. Every time we share, someone breathes a sigh of relief, and somewhere in their soul, they connect with our realness and think: “If they can do it, maybe, just maybe, I can too.” This is a welcoming and safe place to land. Help me practice what I preach, rather than curating a version that feels holier than thou (yuck).
Thank you, my friend. The article that you shared helped remind me once again of my white privilege and how hard I have to keep fighting to lean into vulnerability and authenticity. Oh, it bites me often! Here’s to all my beautifully brave, wonderful black and brown friends. Happy Black History Month! Please keep teaching us!