Monday, July 23, 2012

And so it goes.. Racism & Size-ism 101

I had a choice this evening. To either address the issue or pretend that it never happened.

I figured if I did the latter, I was not being true to myself. This blog may have lost a lot of the super-personal/sensitive issues, but one thing I believe in more than anything else is to take those things that happen in my life, good or bad, and share them here so we can talk about them.

As you know, I started a new job about 90 some-odd days ago. I LOVE it. I love what I do, I love who we serve, I love the mission, the volunteers, the staff - it is a wonderful place for someone like me.

We had a super successful event this past Friday, and we had a ton of press around it. Actually, and not to brag, but we had a ton of press around all of our events. With all of this recent attention, I choose to be more selective over my ramblings.

But I think you need to see this one, because there is so much to learn from it.

I woke up this morning feeling spectacular. I'm so not just saying this, I was in a fantastic mood and felt like conquering the world. I woke up feeling grateful, feeling calm and I sincerely could not wait to get to work to chat with everyone about our great success.

Then I got this letter and here is what it said:

My heart sank to my stomach.

I stood there for a moment in shock, I had not even sat down at my desk yet.
Here in my hand was my first piece of hate mail.

I knew it might come one day.


I took a deep breath  and headed downstairs and showed it to one of my co-workers. We both sort of shook our heads in disbelief.  Look, I get it - someone sees a white girl doing a ton of interviews about a museum that showcases African American art, history and culture. Okay. Fine, that can be a little jarring for some.

Then this white girl happens to have an interesting last name. Okay, that can be a little jarring.

Then this girl happens to be.. well.. not perfect. I am not thin. Not even close. I used to be, but that doesn't matter now. What this person decided to do was to take a good close look at me and try to break me down because of my size, my skin color and because I have a foreign last name.

You have this white, southern catholic, chubby professional married to an egyptian sunni muslim, working at an african american museum. For people who have a problem with diversity - this must really shake them to the core.

I love my job. I do and I will continue to. The place I work has a very diverse team, all shapes and sizes, ethnicities, etc.

So that is not the issue.

I guess the issue I have, is the good old fashioned modern day bullying. That's what it is. It took me back to elementary school when 'Angela' got her friends to send me a mean note, making fun of me. Or to middle school, when the school bully, 'Lori,' decided to push me around. Or to high school, when some random girl got mad and tried to ruin a relationship due to jealously. . etc.. We've all been there.

But at 39, I did not see this one coming... or did I?

This community is very much divided when it comes to race. It is very much divided between the haves and the have nots. It's a beautiful place... but there are some deep seated issues we all need to work on.

I am one person who has decided to return to her hometown. I decided to work somewhere I could ACTUALLY make a difference. I'm going to hold my head high and do just that. I love my job. I love where I live. I love my life.

BTW - No matter how much weight I gain or lose, my face is mine. My voice is mine. My eyes are mine. My heart is mind. My mind is mine. My education is mine. My history is mine. My success is mine. There is nothing, no one can do, to change that.

PS- Now time to address the "viewers" comments:

Thank you for your letter. An email would have sufficed and used less trees. As a matter of fact, yes- my last name is "African," my husband is from Egypt which is in North Africa. However, Abdou is Arabic. I do happen to like "Negroes" as you put it - some of my closest friends happen to be African American. Yes, I am white and yes, I do work at a museum dedicated to African American art, history and culture. I was hired because I was qualified and it had nothing to do with race. PS: you are absolutely right, I do need to lose weight. Luckily, I am working very hard to do so. 13 pounds down - thanks for caring. (FYI - As for looking like a whale on TV... well.. I am just a wee bit lighter than 3 tons and much shorter than 98 feet.)

Happy Monday Folks!

PS - I STILL Love Macon. So take THAT, haters. ;-)

7 comments:

songbyrd on the mountain said...

Oh my -- words almost fail me. It never ceases to amaze me when people display such blatant rude hurtful behavior as this. Shame on them! But, you Nicole-- you have faced this with such grace and I applaud you!

jondyeart said...

I don't know why someone would go through such effort to attack you, but I am certain it comes from a sad place inside them. I hope they find their way out of that place and one day send you the apology you deserve. You are doing a fantastic job and it is a pleasure to know you and work with you. I think I speak for many people when I say we are glad you are a part of Macon and of our cultural community.

Robin said...

People who don't have the courage to sign their mail... they know that what they are saying is wrong and cruel and don't want to be called out on it. So, anything written by Anonymous is not worth My Attention or Yours. The sad truth is that people who are filled with that much hate usually hate themselves just as much, if not more. I would pray for that person. They need it. You are strong enough in yourself to know that you are FINE. They, clearly, are NOT.

Tesha Vann said...

Wow - so sorry you had to receive such a worthless piece of words.
You handled it very well knowing the ignorance of many.
Still so proud of you for continuing on your weight loss.

High Heeled Life said...

Nicole, you are making wonderful strides in your life (for yourself and no one else). Your response is written with both elegance and grace.

It is unfortunate in this day and age that someone feels they have the right to be judge of others.

Stay true to you! and know that you are making in a (positive)difference in the life of others.

This person clearly has some issues they need to address within themselves. Hopefully they find the peace that so obviously are missing in their life.
Blessings and hugs, HHL

@Fatreality said...

What a way to start your week. People are so busy putting down each other when they could be using that time to work out their own issues.

Useless criticism from a cowardly individual.

Peggy K said...

Whoa! How very sad that that person is filled with such hate. And how beautifully graceful your response was! Perfect, in fact!

Robin is right...if they won't sign their name, they know that IN THEIR HEART, what they are saying is wrong (dare I say, evil).

Nicole, I'm so glad your job is so fulfilling; that your life right now seems to be on a path you are welcoming.

Keep on keepin' on, sister!!

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