Coffee Talk 06.07.20

Good morning, friends! What a week. Let’s be real, what a YEAR. Is 2020 over yet?

And here we were, looking ahead to June, thinking it was going to be the month everything turned around and got better.

In some ways, it has. After a long 12 weeks, our stay-at-home order was lifted on Friday, and Philadelphia and its surrounding counties have finally moved into the yellow phase of reopening.

This allows for gatherings of up to 25 people, which we took advantage of right away. We attended a graduation party on Friday night for a good friend of the family.

Retail stores are allowed to operate, although most are just doing curbside pickup, and restaurants and bars may open their outdoor dining. Gyms, spas, hair salons, nail salons, etc. remain closed for now.

I was most excited to go out to eat at a restaurant, so yesterday, we found one that is doing outdoor dining, and we made a reservation. It was soooo nice to sit outside, be served my lunch — no cooking, no cleaning, no setting the table (or nagging my kids to do it.) That was a nice break from the weightier matters of the week.

This week was also my kids’ last week of school, although that was pretty anticlimactic. Not only was it overshadowed by the everything happening in our world right now, but of course they finished out their school year online. I think Becca was actually done with her work a few days ago.

I probably should have done more for her 8th grade graduation. I didn’t think to order a yard sign or get balloons or anything. I did offer to host a pool party for her friends, but she didn’t take me up on it.

Fortunately, my sister-in-law and niece came through with a fun graduation package, and I brought her an iced latte from Starbucks on Friday, so we decided that would have to suffice.

Then of course, there is everything else.

There’s so much to unpack from this past week, and I’ve heard you loud and clear. The vast majority do not want me to get “political” in this space, and I get that. I have no desire for that either.

But Coffee Talk is the place where I step outside of my typical fashion and lifestyle content and share what is going on in my life, and it has been A Week, let me tell you.

You see, when your job is on social media and you have a platform as large as mine, and important things are going on in our country or the world, there’s a lot of pressure to do or say certain things, and in certain ways, and on certain time tables.

It’s not only trendy, but pretty much expected that you will hop on board with whatever the powers that we decide we are going to do — whether it’s post a black box, take a day off of blog posting… or even a week, donate to certain organizations, say certain words, use certain hashtags, promote certain agendas.

The pressure is intense, but I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like to hop on the bandwagon and do what everyone else is doing just because. I need time to do my own research, and I want to come up with my own words, and say things my way. 

After the video of the killing of George Floyd started circulating, and the protests and demands for justice intensified, there was a call for us all to mute our social media channels for Tuesday, and even for the rest of the week. This was intended to show support to the Black community, to allow their voices to be heard, and to give us all more time to listen and learn.

Many posted a black box on their Instagram feed with the hashtag #BlackoutTuesday, and of course there were other memes and graphics being posted as well.

I don’t usually bring current events into my blog and social media channels, but I was horrified to see the blatant killing of George Floyd caught on video, and that so soon after the murder of Ahmaud Arbery — a Black man simply out for a jog. More details of his case have come out this week, and it will make you sick to read about it. And then there’s the killing of Breonna Taylor, and the arrest of her boyfriend who was defending their home.

All that to say, I decided to take Tuesday off from posting to the blog and social media. It felt like the appropriate thing to do, and I wanted to show my solidarity to my Black friends who were hurting.

I spent hours collecting my thoughts and sharing my heart in an email to my newsletter subscribers on Tuesday, explaining why I was going silent on the blog and social media channels that day. Not everyone agreed with that decision, although many appreciated it. I was able to have some constructive conversations offline with a few of you who didn’t, which has been fruitful, I believe.

I’m not one to post memes, so I chose not do the black box on Instagram; I was just silent. It’s not that I don’t believe Black lives matter, or that I wasn’t listening and learning, but I didn’t feel the need to announce it. Plus, I really didn’t think anyone needed another black box in their feed that day.

I didn’t say anything on my Facebook Page, either. Again, it didn’t seem to fit with the way I use that channel, which is pretty much only to share my daily blog posts… when I even remember to do so. It didn’t even occur to me to post a statement about current events on that Page.

When I went back to posting my regular content to my FB Page on Wednesday, explaining that we were going to continue with 22 Days of Summer Fashion, that coupled with my silence on Tuesday was interpreted by some as lack of concern or disrespect for the Black community and the turmoil our country is going through.

I received a few really scathing messages, basically reprimanding me for lack of any reference to the massive crisis facing our country before continuing with my posts.

This was in addition to my social media feed being full of people instructing us on what we should be saying, how we should be saying it, what words to use to express the sentiments we should be having…

My head was about to explode. In fact, I did explode back to a few of those commenters. I’m not proud of it (and I did apologize) but I was about done with people’s opinions at that point.

At the same time, I get it. When I look back at my feed, it did look out of touch.

While I knew that I had poured my heart into the email I sent on Tuesday, and I had posted earlier in the week on my Facebook profile, those who just follow my Facebook Page couldn’t have known that.

After taking everything into account, I felt the need to address the issue. The comments on that post were by and large very supportive, and one of my Black friends actually spoke up and supported me, confirming that I had not been silent, and she had seen my posts on my Facebook profile.

That meant the world to me, because the Black community is hurting right now, and yet she took the time to encourage me when I was feeling misunderstood.

She also expressed in a followup comment that statements of support and allyship from influencers and friends have really spoken to her on a deep level, and I think it’s important for us to know that.

Our Black friends need us to speak up. They need to hear us say that we see them, we hear them, we care; and I absolutely want to stand beside my Black friends in their quest for justice and fair and equal treatment.

This goes beyond politics. This is about people in our communities who feel marginalized and misunderstood, and many are actually fearful of going about the same daily activities that the rest of us take for granted.

I have what I consider a fairly diverse group of friends — both on and offline. It’s due in part to where I live, and also to my social media community. They have really opened my eyes to inequalities and racism that still exists.

I’ve seen so many videos and posts from Black men and women this week, talking about incidents when they were doing things as simple as walking down the street with a friend, and they were detained, questioned, intimidated, and treated like a suspect while doing absolutely nothing out of the ordinary. I can see the pain in their eyes and hear it in their voices when they describe these events.

This even happened to a personal friend of ours who happens to be Black, when he was with my son and another one of their friends. They were pulled over on a bogus charge — the officer claimed he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt (when he was) and he gave the kid a ticket. He wasn’t speeding or anything.

That was probably the most eye-opening situation I’ve personally encountered, but there are many others that friends have shared that are much worse.

Please don’t think I’m jumping on the hate-on-the-police bandwagon either. I absolutely believe that most police offers are good, honorable men who are risking their lives to keep us safe. I’m also very good friends with one of those.

Nor do I condone the looting and rioting, or any type of violent behavior. We can be outraged by both. Standing up for equality and justice in no way means I condone the way some go about demanding it, and I certainly condemn the opportunists who are taking advantage of the situation.

What I am trying to say is, for those of us who are Christians especially, we are called to unity with our fellow believers and to love our neighbors. That means stepping across racial divides, listening and trying to learn and understand where other people are coming from.

It means doing the homework, having the hard conversations, extending grace to those who might stay something we disagree with, and apologizing when we say something insensitive. And yes, standing up and speaking out when we feel led to do so.

This will look different for each one of us, and that’s where I think we need to be careful and examine our own hearts and not anyone else’s. My constant prayer right now is Psalm 139:23-24.

Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

As we start a new week, I take comfort in this Ralph Abernathy quote: I don’t know what the future may hold, but I know who holds the future.

Because, honestly, I shudder to think what else 2020 might have in store for us, at the rate we’re going.

You know what’s ironic? The quote came to my head, so I googled to make sure I got it right, and to see where it originated. Ralph Abernathy was an American civil rights activist, and close friend and mentor of Martin Luther King Jr.

I guess that brings us full circle, doesn’t it?

We have plans this afternoon to get together with friends outside by the pool, and I’m looking forward to that. I need some time away from the computer and my phone, to focus on my present reality — my kids, my husband, my friends.

I hope you are able to spend some quality time with family and friends today as well. Be blessed!