Pandemic Project: Scattered Autobiographical Memories of a Liberal Well Meaning White Woman, 600(ish) Words at a Time, Part II

Titles may, indeed, grow longer with every post.

Things I should be doing instead of this glorified navel gazing:

Since my long title establishes this is a scattered account, I’m going to jump to now. Kind of. I’m glossing over a summer spent in Detroit and four years living in south Minneapolis. Except maybe I’m not going to completely gloss over south Minneapolis. In 2000 my husband and I relocated to the Twin Cities. Chris was fresh out of law school, I had one year of lab experience under my belt. We were feeling quite grown up and worldly– both gainfully employed, done with school, living in the big city.

After four years (whirlwind, much?), with a two year old and a bun in the oven, we opted to sell our first home and move to Edina, a first ring suburb known for entitlement and top notch schools. We’ve been here for 16 years, nurtured relationships with amazing neighbors, converted what was a cute little yellow rambler into our dream home, and transitioned from parents of littles to parents of teens. We’ve also, mostly, enjoyed the top notch schools. Turns out the reputation for entitlement was not completely unfounded, which has led to some moments of frustration; but speaking generally, we’re very grateful for the education our kids have received during our time here.

I have guilt over moving out of the Minneapolis city limits. I had it when the for sale sign went up, and I’ll have it when I die. Truth is, though, that 28 year old Anne was not all that far removed from the 22 year old clinical lab student Anne who, while on phlebotomy rounds during my year as a student, deemed a black teenage gunshot victim as worthy of my ridicule. Worth noting: From age 16ish on, there was never a time when I wouldn’t have counted myself as a nice white liberal woman with a slant toward social justice.

I know. Cognitive dissonance.

Anyhoo; ignorance, undiagnosed anxiety, an overwhelming need to do whatever would give my kids every advantage in life (with, as I can see now, zero regard for the bigger picture) led my family to the suburbs. It felt like an easy button I had available to me, so why not push it?

OK. Now I’m really jumping to now. Yesterday I drove a load of bottled water and snacks to a church in an affected area. I was glad to have a task that, at least in some regard, could be viewed as helpful. But I also felt like an interloper. Like simply driving into the area made me no more than a gawker, even if I was delivering goods. But then driving out of the area, heading back to my vastly different suburban world, felt like I was turning my back.

These conflicting feelings are privilege. Me whining about them is super duper gratuitous and tone deaf.

Last night a friend proposed going down to the fifth precinct. I’d done nothing when Jamar Clark was killed by the police. I’d done nothing when Philando Castile was killed by the police. And I’d done my part for white flight, moving my family out of the city. I guess now is as good a time as any to address the fact that this whole ‘moving my family out of the city’ narrative is utterly ridiculous. Our Minneapolis neighborhood was predominantly white, housing costs were high, my family’s quality of life would have been plenty good and high had we stayed. This is a journey, friends. I’m learning.

Anyhoo….Feeling compelled to do more than my nice white liberal lady hand-wringing, I took off with my friend Tara and headed down. I didn’t know if it was the right thing to do last night, and honestly, I don’t know now. There are those claiming I was simply fanning the flames, not considering the well-being of residents of the area; and I definitely have to explore that as a possibility. Perhaps my heart and emotion got in the way of my better judgement. This is one more thing I will be wrestling with til I die.

There are no easy answers here. And even though the issue is, at face value, black and white; there is a whole lotta gray to be figured out. Sometimes right and wrong are not clear cut. There is no shortage over things to be confused about and heart broken over right now.

I’m over 600 words. The weeds are calling.

Be Well, Friends.