Month: August 2017

Choosing the Back Porch

Choosing the Back Porch

At our last family gathering, my aunt asked me how life was going in Austin. I told her that traffic & increasing cost of living are pain points for me, but it’s still the lack of diversity that always bothers me most and keeps me from feeling totally at home here. Even though I grew up in a suburb, it was near Houston, which is the most ethnically diverse city in the U.S.  So as a white, middle-class kid, I was probably exposed to different races, religions, and perspectives more than my counterparts in other American cities. It was a stark contrast when I came to Austin. And it’s only getting worse.

Despite growing 20.4 percent between the 2000 and 2010 censuses, (Austin) was the country’s only large, fast-growing city to record a decline in its black population.”

My aunt, who is my dad’s sister, reminded me that they (my dad, my aunt, their younger sister, and my grandparents), all lived in Austin in the 1960s. (Actually just two streets away from where I live now.) She said she remembers having a good friend from the neighborhood who was black, and they would walk a few blocks to a burger place nearby sometimes to grab sodas from the takeout window. One day, my aunt suggested they go inside for food instead and her friend shook her head and pointed to the door.

“That’s when I noticed the ‘Whites Only’ sign for the first time.”

She said she read it and then her mind started putting together all these instances that had felt weird to her over the years- times when her dad didn’t want her friend to come in their house, or when neighbors stared at them playing. She said she was sure there were other things, but they never really registered to her. She ate on the back porch with her friend that day, and then always ate on the back porch after that, until the signs came down and restaurants integrated a few years later.

It’s not a coincidence that my aunt now stands out in my family as a vocal supporter of equality and human rights. At ten years old she chose the right side when other adults around her did not. And if her choices had only been guided by what she saw in her own home, she would not have.

All the people that lived here back then: What did they pass down? What did they teach? Did they eat on the back porch, or did they go inside and leave their fellow citizens outside? Did they even think about it? Do they care? This is where we are now: Yesterday, Nazis rallied in Charlottesville and murdered and assaulted Americans. Changing a sign and changing a society are two very different things, and the work to stay aware, make the right choices, and be compassionate is constant.

Photo credit: Behind the Tower

List: Shopping for Clothes at 35

List: Shopping for Clothes at 35

As a 35-year-old woman, these are the categories of clothing I am asked to choose from:

  • You can wear this to your office job, but it would be weird to wear this in any other scenario.
  • Do you want to feel comfortable more than you want to look like you spent three hours getting ready? Oh, you do? Skip these outfits.
  • “Individual style” & “personality” are overrated. We know what you need: Beige.
  • Everything here comes with a matching jacket or cardigan. Sometimes even sewn in!
  • Everything here is made from the finest scratchy, translucent, non-breathable fabrics science could create.
  • You aren’t old yet! Let these odd shapes, clingy fabrics, and confusing patterns remind you every day.
  • You aren’t young anymore! Let these odd shapes, billowy fabrics, and confusing patterns remind you every day.
  • These are the hottest trends. You might feel weird about showing off that one section of your shoulder, but you’ll look so cool!
  • Remember, you don’t want to look too sexy. But you also don’t want to look too frumpy. You want your coworkers & friends to compliment your outfits, but you don’t want to seem like you care a lot about your looks. You want to put effort into your style, but no one should be able to tell. But also who cares? You do you! …as long as it can’t offend anyone else or draw too much attention in any situation. Anyway, what were we talking about?

Photo credit: Who to Wear on Pinterest