this white woman’s thoughts about Black Panther

Mostly, I’m going to keep my mouth shut in public about Black Panther. I want to leave the public opinion sharing to Black people. But, I do want to invite my white readers/peers/friends to see the movie and I want to tell you why I think you should (even if you, like me, don’t really enjoy action movies):

  • Watch the movie thinking about how almost every other movie made by Hollywood is almost all white people with only minor characters who are Black. Imagine watching almost all movies almost all of the time showing almost no one looking remotely like you. It’s an extraordinary opportunity to put your feet in the shoes of Black people in a small way, while also being entertained;
  • …and, related to that, it’s a glorious opportunity to just stare at Black people without feeling self-conscious or weird. We don’t get a lot of chances to do that. While it’s still a rare thing (and I’m sure you agree it shouldn’t be so rare), I think we should always take advantage of the opportunities;
  • The appreciation of real African cultures comes through vibrantly, even though it’s all fictionalized. Think about how you *really* think of “African culture.” Do you place it on the same level as European history and culture? Do you even know about the massive variety of African cultures? (I don’t, but the movie helped me realize how little I know and made me curious to learn more.);
  • Bring your children! and talk to them about all of these things. see what they notice on their own, see what they notice that you miss, relating to Black people in the US and racism.

I have so many, many more thoughts about the movie, but, again, I’ll keep those to my private discussions. For now, I suggest these reviews/discussions of the movie for you if you want to know more:

The reality of Blackness in the fiction of Black Panther

How the “Black Panther” Film Is “A Defining Moment for Black America”

What Would W. E. B. Du Bois Make of Black Panther?

The prison of unfounded positivity

Heart-shaped herb: Wakanda and ancestral healing

The Root’s many articles about Black Panther

post-concussion syndrome recovery update

I’m feeling especially frustrated right now. See, I love going to New York City. One of my favorite things in the world is to walk around Manhattan without a plan, go to a museum or two, and wander.

I’ve been feeling significantly better lately. I can cook dinner even when my eight year old wants to talk to me. My 14 year old can listen to music on the radio while I’m driving. These are big deal improvements.

But as I plan a trip to the city, I realize I still need to restrict my activities because of the concussion recovery. It’s so frustrating.

Scanning with my eyes is still very tiring. Multi-tasking is still not second nature like it was before. Something that before would have been simple, like taking a bus from my uncle’s place into the city, feels daunting. I could do it, but it would be difficult and very tiring. Maybe it would be worth it? Or maybe I’d be better off waiting until I’ve gotten even farther along in my recovery.

The crash happened in June. It’s been a long time. I thought I might be done by now. As I said, I’m much better. But I still don’t have my life back. It’s tempting to focus on how powerless I am here (I can’t speed up the recovery), but the occupational/physical/speech therapists all helped me (and still help me) remember that I’m much better than I was before.

I’ve started a new activity in speech therapy that is focused on building multitasking skills. I tried it on Wednesday and it felt like I was lifting weights with my brain. I have high hopes that this tool will help a lot.

I’ll keep my trip to NY really simple. I’m grateful I feel up to traveling at all.

hostile, misogynistic everyday life

I know a lot of good men who, despite their best efforts, don’t really understand what it’s like to be a woman when it comes to personal safety. And, while I generally move through life assuming the best of people, in most respects, I also know (based on life experience) I need to be on guard when it comes to men.

On twitter today I experienced a solid example of how the littlest things can turn upsetting when it comes to interacting with men. It’s also an example of an exchange that could have many other explanations that don’t include the potential for violence. Therefore, it’s a good example of the kinds of everyday interactions women face all the time, at every turn, where we need to make the calculation, if I respond this way, will they get angry (which, offline, could lead to violence) enough that it will be scary? or, if I respond this other way, will it be worse?

Here are the series of exchanges.

This man followed me on twitter a while ago. I followed him back for a while, even though it seemed from his tweets we probably didn’t have a lot in common. I enjoy interacting with people who have different points of view.

Our interactions were cordial, even kind.

Should I “heart” the tweet, indicating I saw it? Sure. I think I even replied with a thank you, or something like that.

Then, a few days ago, there was this exchange:

The “fishnetspreferred” hashtag made me uncomfortable. But, y’know, it’s twitter, the wide-open Internet and we’re all adults here. At this point I start weighing my potential responses, if I don’t “heart” the tweet, will he take it badly? (too many men would.) If I heart it will that only encourage him to move farther along in that direction? In my experience that’d be pretty likely, so, no, I decided not to heart the tweet. I also decided to stop following him, taking the chance of sending a quiet message that, no, I didn’t like the tweet.

I didn’t spend many minutes on this decision, but I did have to think about it and decide which of the possible outcomes would be least annoying (or, in the worst case scenario, least scary or unsafe).

That shouldn’t be a big deal, right? So, his joke kinda fell flat because I didn’t heart it, who really cares? (I also thought, maybe he’ll just think I never saw it and it really won’t be an issue, or maybe, if I’m really lucky, he just won’t care…)

Then, today, I got another tweet from him. I want to say in advance that I’m fully aware the change in tone could be entirely unrelated to my not hearting his “flirtatious” (?) tweet. But I also want to say that it has been this 48 year old woman’s experience that men can get hostile really quickly when their advances are rebuffed. So, take this next tweet as you will:

If he hadn’t had that hostile first line, I think it could have been an interesting discussion. But, no, the hostility and misogyny of the tweet was clear.  I tweeted two responses. One, that I never called her stupid. And, two, that I was going to block him because his anger made me feel unsafe.

I’ll say again that I recognize there are all kinds of ways of reading this series of exchanges. But, in my experience (and that counts beyond just something “anecdotal” because I know I’m not alone in my experiences), this kind of escalation into hostility is typical if I don’t smile or laugh along with jokes that make me uncomfortable. (And if I smile or laugh, they’ll continue and get worse.)

I’m sharing this in the hopes that some men I know might continue learning how tricky it is being a woman out there in the world. If we women dare not smile and “encourage,” we end up being called “an unholy, judgmental snatch” (the choice of language for his insult is another indication about his lack of respect for women).

going too fast

Something that hasn’t yet gotten all the way better as I recover from this concussion is my ability to multi-task. One thing that happens now, that I consider a big improvement, is I notice when things are going too fast and I (usually) have the forethought to pause.

If I look at social media and I’m hit with the #metoo conversations, I might need to do some emotional work not to lapse into the darkness of being a survivor of sexual abuse/assault/harassment. That requires brain space. Then, if a friend texts and I reply = more brain. Add to that the tea kettle is about to squeal and I’ve got to get to work asap before a conference call and I get the overwhelmed sense that everything is going too fast.

When I get this overwhelmed feeling I recognize my brain isn’t like it used to be. Before the concussion, I would easily drop one or two things out of the top level of awareness. I might store something away to consider later, or I might not reply immediately to a text.

Since the concussion, if too much is happening at once, I lose the ability to easily prioritize. My triage skills are still too weak to manage many things at once.

Of course, we know that it’s a myth that multi-tasking is an efficient method of functioning in the world. But it’s also a requirement for functioning in reality.

In my speech therapy at Bayside Neuro Rehab, I will be doing some work to improve my multi-tasking skills. I’m looking forward to that. I also know that it will be to my advantage if I maintain an awareness of when things are going too fast, or are just too much. Even when (if?) I return to being able to manage (juggle) many things at once, it will improve my life if I can remember to regularly pause and breathe and center myself. Pausing is required now if I want my brain to work right, but I think my spiritual health will be stronger if I develop a good habit of going slower when slower is an option.

addendum to my last post (post-concussion syndrome continues)

Feeling so much better, related to my concussion, as I reported in yesterday’s post, today I undertook what in the past would have been a joyful adventure of creation (and $ savings): meal planning and cooking for the week. It took longer than it would have in the past, but, I planned meals for the next week and a half, and I started some of the cooking.

I just found out, however, that after a few hours of this prep work, I’m not able to look at a recipe and know where to start. It’s hard to explain what it’s like, when my brain doesn’t quite work right. I can, if I go slowly, read it and understand it. It would require effort, however, to gather together the background thoughts that make it easy to know what steps come first. For example, as I’m typing this, I can tell you that gathering the ingredients together would be the first step. But it took some thinking to get to that point. Instead of “just knowing” what normally would be nearly intuitive, I have to stop and think and now I’m getting a headache. The post-concussion syndrome symptoms are still affecting my everyday life. It’s frustrating and discouraging.

But, as each of the therapists at the rehab center always emphasized: it’s better than it was. Even just a couple months ago, what I did today wouldn’t have been possible.

I’ll take a break and come back to it after I’ve rested my eyes and brain.