Clearly I am already having trouble with this blog thing (meaning writing every day) and although I felt SO much lighter this weekend after blogging for only one day (proving that you can take the girl out of the writing but you can’t take the writer out of the girl – kind of) I am already having trouble thinking about what else to blog about. It definitely has something to do with the fact that I’ve decided that this blog is not going to be a “today I did this, tomorrow I’m planning on doing that” kind of blog, but considering we are defined by our experiences I’m finding this whole approach kind of difficult.
GAH — I just wanted to share my brilliant thoughts with the interweb! Why is this so difficult?
I even started a list of things that I want to cover in my brilliant blog, and if anyone has any requests I’m also happy to add those to my cue…but for some reason things that seemed like they were FABULOUS and original and NEVER-BEEN-DONE-BEFORE seem like they are so unoriginal and overthought today.
I guess now you can see how I’ve been struggling with writers block for three years.
So I guess I can talk a little bit about what I do. Like my About Me page specifies, I currently work in Education for the foremost human rights/civil rights organization in the country. My office is very small (only 8 full-time staff members plus 2 administrative staff people) and in Center City, located very (un)conveniently next to both a Starbucks (it’s even in my building!) and a Krispy Kreme donuts, which is a terrible, terrible thing especially because I very often forget to bring my lunch to the office and having such a delicious (and Kosher!) place to get food that also happens to be artery-clogging and dangerous is not such a good thing.
My day-to-day activities are fairly unchallenging, as I don’t get to develop any of the programs that the schools we work with develop, and I don’t get to watch them get implemented as well. It’s also somewhat depressing, because the particular topic (bullying) my job focuses on is one that will never be eradicated (like we tell our schools/students in our schools – that doesn’t mean we should ignore it!) and boring (a well trained primate could learn how to hit the scan key and fill in dates in a spreadsheet). It’s not that I don’t think that this work is important, because I do; my training in our diversity/bias work has really changed the way that I see the world and I see it’s impact every day, but I don’t get to work in the diversity/bias world, I work in the bullying/cyberbullying world. Which is not such a fun world to live in.
In addition, a lot of bullying goes on in our office. And there’s a lot of bias here too. Which puts us (meaning, humanity?) in a very interesting predicament. We can acknowledge that there’s a problem and we can try to fix it but if we don’t start at home, what hope is there?
(I’m moving forward understanding that this example only pertains to me, but it happens to be one that really informed my decision to make some life changes – I’ll get to those later – but I’m sharing this with the understanding that it’s impossible for me to have been the only who’s experienced this kind of understated bias here: I can speak for none other than myself.)
The organization I work for happens to also be Jewish, with a dual mission (one Jewish and one secular) — If you don’t know what it is, I hope you enjoy living underneath a rock.
In a staff meeting (which happen every Wednesday morning), we were discussing potential speakers for an upcoming board meeting who could talk about education and bullying. Naturally, the Department Director was suggested, and then one of my colleagues said that before he spoke, we should ask him to remove his yarmulke.
Really, a Jewish staff member working at a Jewish organization suggested that another Jewish staff member who exercises the freedom of religion the mission of our organization fights for on a daily basis should take off his yarmulke.
And another staff member agreed. She later approached me and apologized for agreeing, stating that she would never dream of asking a muslim to remove their hijab (the traditional muslim garb) so she should never think that it’s alright to ask a Jew to remove his yarmulke. In addition, one of my supervisors also apologized, stating, “if you don’t feel comfortable here, of all places, then we’re in much bigger trouble than we thought.” The colleague who originally made the comment never apologized or brought up the situation again.
I used to be a huge proponent of this organization (before I worked here) because if not for its education programs, I never would have met Jonathan, and I wouldn’t dream of being so naive as to suggest that we don’t carry prejudices and stereotypes about all types of people, but to have experienced two isms (ageism and anti-Semitism (can a Jew be anti-Semitic? I know this definition is a stretch, but if a non-Jew had made the suggestion, this is the term that would have been used)) in such a short time working here both pertinent to me and where I hold really shows me that it’s not where I’m going to make my career.
Not that I could afford to make my career here, either, on what they pay.
Every time I think about what happened with these two particular incidents, I am always drawn back to my supervisor’s reaction: “If you don’t feel comfortable here, of all places, then we’re in much bigger trouble than we thought.”
Well, guess what?