Who are you?

 I am always curious about why people visit this space. I can only speculate that for some it is to see what type of nonsense I am sharing with the world on any given day. For others it’s the best way to stay in touch with me since I am over a thousand miles away from friends and family. Perhaps for some, it is the curiosity of wondering what it like is to be a person of color in one of the whitest states in the US.

Today though, I am flipping the script, turning the tables and I want to know about you.  How are you? Who are you? What brings you here?  I have been plodding away in this space for the past five years (Zoinks! There are marriages that don’t last that long) and while there are a handful of readers who I have gotten to know over the years, I realize there are many more who I don’t know at all.

Writing a personal memoir style blog is an interesting experience to say the least. As a now offline friend who met me through this blog said during our initial meeting “I feel like I know so much about you but you know nothing about me.” It’s true and I want to change that. I have been an avid reader of blogs for many years, for me reading a personal blog is like walking down the street and seeing the windows open into the middle of a living space and just standing and peering in, not sneakily but not fully invited either. Looking into someone’s window allow us to know certain things but many other things we are just speculating about.

I admit that after writing in this space for the past five years, I often find myself wondering when the end will come. Is there a point that I should just call it a wrap? However as someone who always has something to say, it seems no sooner than I ask myself that question, suddenly I have a million things to write about but never enough time to do so.

On this lazy, hazy Friday though, I want to know about you. If you are a regular or semi-regular reader, I would love to know what keeps you coming back. If you think there is something that I could be doing better, I would even like to know that too.

Until the next post, keep passing the open windows and stay cool.


22 thoughts on “Who are you?”

  1. You are smart and articulate. I love what you write and love to hear your viewpoint. I read your blog more regularly than I read a lot of other blogs. I am the blogger that writes about mental illness. I learn from you.

  2. I check in with you pretty much everyday to see what’s new. I’m past middle age (unless I live to be 105) and currently unemployed after going back to school for my bachelors and then masters in health studies.
    I have a son who is biracial, Hispanic and white defined as Hispanic. I also have a step-daughter who is biracial, black and white who has “exotic” features (not my term, but one that is used often with her). I also have a grand-daughter who is defined as black (I do like to mess with her hair and the black sales clerk at the grocery store says “awww you tried to fix her hair didn’t you, ).
    I’m also someone who was raised poor white in a rural area. You definitely speak to many of my concerns and questions when you talk about your programs.
    Sometimes the topics make me uncomfortable because of my privileged background (being white), but they always make me think, make me reexamine my bias and frankly my fears of people who are the “other”. I’ve come a long long way in my 55 years and you’ve been a part of my journey of learning if that makes any sense.
    Just for the record, I’ve been to Maine and my prejudice (envy??) about people with such easy affluence was surely reinforced when I was in Bar Harbor… I still have a long way to go.


  3. For me, I guess it’s part curiosity of what it’s like to be a person of color in one of the whitest states (I believe Vermont is whiter). I like and agree with the comment Nancy made; you are part of my “journey of learning.”

    To answer your question: I am a mother of 2 grown children (old enough to be your mother 🙂 married for 40+ years TO THE SAME MAN! Massachusetts born, lived for a number of years in North Carolina where (at age 40) I encountered black people on a day-to-day basis for the very first time (Zoinks!)…….Recently we moved (retired) to Maine because of it’s natural beauty. Even though I am white as Wonder Bread, I have felt the chill of being “from away” as the locals say, so I can only imagine your experience. I first heard you on the public radio and thought you were such a good speaker and decided to check out your blog. I enjoy what you write and think you should continue to address race issues if it feels right to you. Occasionally I have forwarded links to you on that topic which I thought you might enjoy (I hope that has not been a annoyance).

    P.S. I also appreciate when you write about spiritual matters— your faith journey— and how to stay spiritually grounded in today’s messy world.

    • Maine is an interesting place, as I have been told, simply being from away is enough to never become a full member of the community. It is a place where people take pride in going back several generations.

      Thank you so much for reading and replying and keep sending me pieces. I may not always reply in a timely fashion but I do read them.


  4. I am researching Black hair and identity for a Sociology course, and somehow came across your blog. One link led to another and I’m here to stay.

    Your writing style and the topics you discuss keep me coming back.

  5. “Sometimes the best way to “help” is to sit down, help hold the space and say nothing…tonight ain’t about you. Last time I’m saying that.”

    This was your tweet tonight. Retweeted by a wonderful woman I follow: @fatnutritionist (Michelle). I am Canadian, like Michelle, and I know nothing.

    I work with those with eating disorders — ostensibly a mental illness. I will be reading your blog post from now on.

  6. I know many of us that are raising black children in maine read your blog from all over Maine- mostly southern areas though. I am further north and east of you.

    • So I have heard, a colleague and friend who works for one of the largest agencies in the state was telling me that several people she knows raising black kids here read my blog. I was really surprised to hear that since until recently, I had no idea that any Mainers outside of local friends were reading here. Thank you.

  7. Another Nancy: I am 60 years old and rather shocked by that. I’m white as wonderbread, grew up under the illusion we were poor even though it was 1960s Seattle where everyone’s father I knew worked for Boeing, had great health insurance and took going to college for granted. (My mother died when I was 3, my baby brother 6 months later. “Poor” was the only way I knew to express being deeply uncertain about the future, I think now.) My father really WAS poor: rural-Indiana-in-the-depression-poor and self confessed “prejudiced”. However, he was determined that prejudice would stop with his generation and he would NOT pass it on. I hope he succeeeded. A long time ago, I first read your FB comments to Daniel Minter (mutual friend) and ended up reading your blog. As the neighbor of two young black men I have seen grow up and adore, I am gut-struck by the idea that they need to learn to be non-threatening in public just because of their skin color. What utter bullshit. My precious grand-nephews are 6 and 2 and evidently going to have to learn that lesson too???!!! unless we can change things (today, I’m thinking “fat chance”),

    • I am keeping hope alive no matter how grim I may sound some days that things will change. They are, my Dad grew up sharecropping in Arkansas and in a generation we have come to the place where he has a white son in law. Change is happening, we just need it to speed up.

  8. Like you, I am a black women who relocated to one of the whitest states in America. I discovered your blog when I first moved here and I enjoy reading your blogs. I first came across your blog when I was searching for a black hairdresser. I enjoy reading your blogs because I believe you are about making a difference by touching the lives of black women especially but women of all colors. You inspire me to use my voice in uncomfortable situations because I have a voice and it should be heard. I love living in Maine, not a lot of diversity like Texas however, I feel like I am living a good and wholesome life. My choice for moving here was not to only show my youngest two sons a better way of living but that they too can make a difference in the lives of all people. As long as you keep blogging, I will keep reading.

    • Lisa,

      One of the reasons I started this blog was become moving here 11 years ago, I felt very alone. I figured by writing about my life here, maybe I would find out who else was here. Thank you for reading, by the way did you ever find a hairdresser? Sometimes those seemingly small and minor things are so important in states like Maine.

  9. I am from Washington State (Tacoma to be exact), and I am so white I am almost clear (seriously, some real pastiness going on here). Your blog is my favorite because I teach elementary school in a high-poverty area, and last year I had 6 kids from a shelter. Your writing about issues for working class people and the homeless I find really relevant to the work that I do. Of course, I also love reading about issues of race. Since I was a young kid, I have had the deep conviction that it is stupid and wrong that we even categorize ourselves by color, but I also realize how naive and irresponsible it is to be “color-blind” and refuse to learn the history that shapes the lives of millions of people. Sometimes I feel at a complete loss, like my mere existence and my privilege preclude the prosperity and well-being of another. It makes me cringe. It’s hard to know what to do about it all, but reading your blog and also Tim Wise, does help quite a bit.

  10. I’m a regular reader, semi-often commenter. I keep coming back because I like you. I like your words, you always provide me something to think about, sometimes a different persepective. You aren’t a bullshitter, you aren’t angling for page views, you talk about things you want to talk about and are honest with the way you approach them. It is apparent and appreciated and refreshing.

    I’m Arnebya, DC born and bred, still here though the call of someplace smaller, slower, is definitely calling me. Mom to 3, all by the same man (yes, I was asked this recently. STILL, PEOPLE?) I blog, I write fiction, got a few nods, not sure where to go from here. I want to be a novelist. No, wait, I WILL be a novelist. Recently stopped drinking, wish I had something to fall back on. Like crack; it would be so easy to simply give in to a drug. Life be hard. I talk myself out of bed each day but it’s easier if my 3 yr old is in front of me. Maybe I should carry his picture during my commute.

  11. I love reading your blog – I’m a 45 year old white mom of a gorgeeeous 20 month old African American son. I work very hard on understanding race as it affects me (via privilege) and my son (via racism). I love your perspective on these issues (and quite frankly on work/life/family issues generally). I remember in particular your post about the man and the bakery – that one haunted me – and it was before my current Trayvon Martin terror occured (I’ve literally woken up every night since that verdict in a cold sweat after horrible dreams that my son is gone). That kind of perspective is very hard to come by here – and I so appreciate your willingness to share and make us notice things we don’t see.

  12. I check back in every so often to see what you’ve been writing. Since moving to Maine from the big city I have largely ignored the news and the wider world around me. I don’t have tv and I don’t read the paper. I listen to NPR and that is about it. I check in here to remember important things are going on outside my little bubble. Since I am not yet a citizen I use that as an excuse to shut out all of the political and social discourse that used to be at the core of my life back in Toronto. I was a sociology/urban studies major and had planned to go into municipal politics. While I enjoy parts of this insular life, I also feel guilty about it. Like I am being socially irresponsible so – I come here and am reminded.

    I also like the challenge. Coming from a very multicultural city, always having grown up with friends of every color and faith I tend to feel like I always “get it”. reading some of your posts reminds me that I don’t and that I shouldn’t assume that I do…and I think that is important.

  13. I follow you on Twitter and am a regular reader of your blog. I enjoy reading what you post because:

    1) You are a compelling and versatile writer

    2) I am a Jewish girl who grew up in a mostly Catholic Latino and Native American community. My boyfriend is Asian and grew up in a mostly white community. I have many other friends who have experienced being minorities in their communities, and I am fascinated by how these experiences shape us, for better or for worse. Your posts are an intriguing and thought-provoking contribution to my ongoing exploration of this topic.

    3) It’s important to me to learn about African-American perspectives in general. In school, I did not learn very much about African-American history. I had few opportunities to work with or make friends with African Americans until I moved to New York City in my twenties. I feel that I have a lot of work to do in terms of understanding the oppression that African Americans continue to face, the kinds of privileges I enjoy due to my skin color, and what I can do to help create a more equal and just society. Your particular experience as an African-American woman living in Maine is one of many perspectives helping to shape my views.

    Thank you for continuing to write and share your life with all of us! If you ever find yourself in San Francisco someday, I would love to connect with you.

  14. I’m a regular reader. I get your feed, among other blogs, into my home desktop Outlook (since Google Reader died :-/). I’m 58 and I have children who are turning 27, 23 & 20 in the next month. I’m white. I work in healthcare IT although I have done other things such as personal coaching. You and I know each other from a professional relationship we had many years ago. I always found you creative, alive, willing to dive deep and seek. I used to read your articles (the precursor, I guess, to this blog). When I discovered by accident that you had a blog a while after you started it, probably through a Facebook post, I was delighted that you had an regular vehicle for your writing and bascially came to read and stayed.

    Why do I come back over and over? I think you write wonderfully well, you think all the time, you intermix personal without oversharing and somehow you make it interesting and challenging — I never quite know what to expect. Hardly anyone could write every day about their life, what they think and make it interesting enough for people (relative strangers that is) to come back day after day, week after week, year after year. I love that you don’t hide or play down who are, that you are outspoken, thoughtful, sometimes angry, sometimes down and discouraged, sometimes amazed and grateful. I’m interested in what you have to say and I feel that I’m enriched by reading your blog. Gosh, just the name of your blog is so right out there, I love it.

    I hope you keep it up and I hope you pursue that book you’ve talked about. Maybe people can convince themselves that Trayvon Martin’s case wasn’t about race, but I don’t think so. A book of your writings, with the complexity and honesty you put out there, could help the world understand that this racial stuff is still going on and it’s sometimes subtle and it’s sometimes overt. I don’t see your writings as just about race though, it’s so much more than that and that’s the real message of the way and the what of what you write. A real person with a particular perspective and experience.

  15. I just found your blog today via a link from the Motherlode NYTimes blog, and I have been enjoying reading your posts. The story about how you and your husband got pulled over on the way back from your friend’s wedding was very striking. Thank you for sharing your stories with us.

    As for me, I am a white girl living in California. 🙂

  16. Your writing is compelling and examines the challenges of family and the intersection of race, class and gender.

    I started reading your blog while a student at a Texas Univeristy. I idenified with the fish out of water mood of your blog. I had moved from the west coast to a small farm community. I struggled as a non religious lesbian of color to find acceptance.

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