A spoonful of sugar helps the racism go down...
Racism is not good for you. Sugar is not good for you. Both sit at the top of public health concerns and both have been linked to my life often times as a couple.
The many times I have experienced racism in my life someone has delivered sugar to help deliver me from evil. But truthfully they were just delivering evil.
A few years back, I was pulled over in front of the home of acquaintances in Wauwatosa, a suburb of Milwaukee, WI. I was joining them for dinner and had not been to their home before. They lived on a block lit only by the front porch lights of homes, most of which were quite far from the curb. I drove slow because that is the only way one could possibly read the address numbers and drive. I drove so slow (apparently) I was pulled over. Approaching my car, the police officer asked if I was "casing the joint." Though many answers came to mind, I simply said. "No, I was looking for THIS address." After informing me I was in front of that house, he asked for my license and told me that driving suspiciously in this neighborhood was not okay. I politely nodded and sat in my car embarrassed as people began to come to their living room windows to see the lights and action outside.
The people living in house I was coming to visit actually came outside to see what was going on. Upon realizing it was me, someone came down and asked the officer what was going on. The officer reassured the homeowner, whom I was going to visit, that everything was fine and that he patrols the block regularly. The officer let this person, someone I had intended to call friend, know that I was suspicious and he was taking care of it. The man proceeded to let the officer know that I was his guest.
"We are taking care of it," said the officer, "please return back to your home." The man yelled, "Are you okay?", to me. I nodded. I was not confident that answering him aloud was in my best interest. The officer shouted, "Back in the house!" I sat in my car for 15 more minutes, while the officer sat in his car and gave me a lecture about the fact this was a "nice neighborhood" and I "looked suspicious."
When I finally made it to the front door, I was greeted with chocolate chip cookies. The woman who had watched from the window, said "This is so awful, so I got the cookies out." The man said, "Maybe they should call the department in the morning, but if not we could have ice cream with our cookies today."
When we got to the table one of the youth in the family reminded everyone that there brownies and was prompted to bring those out too. We ate dinner, we forced smiles and small talk. Admittedly, I walked in ready to leave. As I left, I was handed a small container of cookies and brownies , "because today was a rough one."
This story is not unique. It has happened multiple times. When I was sexually assaulted while being called racial slurs, one of my advisors baked a cake. When I shared a story during a training, a participant gave me a gourmet cupcake. When I had a hard conversation at work about race, I was asked to go on an ice cream run. All this... SUGAR... offered with heartfelt despair and disdain for racism --- offered with sadness and perhaps empathy.
Unfortunately sugar does not cure racism. Even more unfortunately, sugar is one of the most dangerous substances on earth. From it's history to it's current processing and utilization it quite easily has killed and is killing millions of people. So, I offer some alternatives. For sugar and for responses to racism.
Monkfruit sugar if you must. It has zero calories and does not impact blood sugar levels, but it is expensive and sometimes hard to find.
However, sugary cookies are not really the answer, so in times of combating racism try listening.
Listening is something that most people do not experience enough. When is the last time you listen to understand. Listened to simply listen. No plan on answering or fixing. It has been awhile which is why you keep running into people at the supermarket that talk longer than you like. How about when you see blatant racism, you listen. You listen to the person that was targeted. You simply take in the hurt with them and as you are out in the world in other moments with other people you use that new level of understanding to interrupt and speak with intention.
Stevia is also an option. It is pretty easy to find and also is a calorie free situation. Unfortunately, it causes bloating and gas.
And since brownies with Stevia are NASTY -- maybe calling it like you see is a better idea. Similar to passing gas, just let it go!
In all my processed sugar responses to racism, whispering started, someone asked to talk to me on the side. I have an idea. How about you just say, that is racist and this is why. Make sure you are clear on what racism and mention power dynamics while you are at it. It couldn't hurt to call things like we see them and stop trying to pacify situations, as we have proven that doesn't work.
Honey is my favorite option. It is easy to find and literally fruit of the earth. It is a bit sweeter than sugar though and does have some calories to it.
So, if you are watching your calorie intake, I suggest love.
Love on some people. Tell them how great they are, be specific. Say that was a messed up situation. Say, I cannot believe that just happened to you and your amazing self. Remind them of their goodness and point out all the ways that the goodness you see is changing the world. Hold their hand, place a hand on their back, give them a hug, let them feel that they have someone in their corner.
Basically, you cannot meet or beat racism with caramel cake, especially when you put a tad too much baking soda in it, but that is another blog all together. When you witness racism and try to assist someone in choking it down you are part of the problem. Mary Poppins was an ill informed White women, because a spoon full of sugar with every dose of medicine will kill you. The medicine is already questionable do not add to the issue.
That night in Wauwatosa, that man should have said "officer, she has not done anything. I am reporting this treatment and she should as well." As I entered the foyer, the woman could have offered, "that seemed scary. racism is scary, guess we're skipping small talk tonight, what are you feeling?" That young person would have witnessed their parents look racism in the eyes and be an example in their peer group for doing the same.
There are so many alternatives to sugar. Many of them do not taste or feel like the comfort we remember as children and that is because they are not. We have an opportunity and responsibility to stop lying to ourselves and each other. Comfort and taste are not more important than people living, laughing, and flourishing.
Yours in Sweet Glitter,