Friday, March 2, 2012

A Gap of Silence

I apologize for the gap in between the last blog and this. I was informed vicariously, shortly after I wrote the last blog, that my blog in general has caused some problems among people I have never even met (and some I have). I was informed I had offended individuals and was also made aware that certain individuals read my blog and considered it to be politically incorrect - even racially offensive.

So, with a variety of emotions, I took an unannounced hiatus from my writing - partially to review my blog and make some edits, and partially to consider what the next best entry would be.

While I adore my children, I don't want this to be another 'mommy' blog - I am made up of more than my role as mother. Furthermore, I have received countless personal messages, and 'public' comments saying how encouraging my writing has been, how inspired you (some of my readers) have been to look at your students, your surroundings, your peers, and your lives in a different & more positive light. If this is indeed true, it would be wrong of me to stop writing completely only because far-removed individuals had taken offense (though the thought did cross my mind). I've been humbled by the thought my words have the potential to make the world a slightly better place.

Conversely, my words have the potential to put others, albeit unintentionally, in a difficult position; or even offend, anger, or personally wound them. A thought which is equally as humbling, and a bit alarming.

With all that said, I will continue to write - about the things I see, think, believe, struggle with, triumph over, and consider - but with a more discerning eye and the knowledge not everyone reading this will assume the best of me should I not say something as articulately as I would like.

In regards to my blog being racially offensive, I have one response. There is a difference between race and culture, though the two can sometimes be considered mutually. While I am absolutely opposed to distinction or dismissal based on race, I am also absolutely opposed to the idea that acknowledging cultural trends, differences, values, or idiosyncrasies should be offensive. Perhaps to some it is, but that does not mean it should be.

Cultural differences are amazing - they are what make us as the human race beautiful, and able to continually strive for higher ground (though the fear of them, or too adamant of a belief in them, has led to countless loss). And every culture has its quirks, its markers that the rest of the world associate with it whether the individuals in that culture like the quirks, or even engage in them on an individual level. While I will be extremely careful to avoid offending, I will also continue to acknowledge cultural differences do exist. And because they do, I am a better person. I won't make this a blog about culture, but when it comes up, I will not shy away from it.

People often ask me what I did to make my transition back to Los Angeles from Nairobi (as an 18 year old who had spent the majority of her life in Kenya) a bit less painful;

I replied: "laugh at myself before others get the chance to. I'm bound to do stupid things, to make cultural blunders, and other people are bound to laugh. But if I laugh first, they are laughing with me, not at me."

We can either acknowledge our blunders & imperfections with grace & humor (even on a cultural level) - or be sure the rest of the world acknowledges them with laughter when we aren't looking. 

So - to those of you who read this & were offended, I hope you no longer are & if you are, please feel free to contact me directly (I have to approve comments before they are published, so you can just leave me a comment & I won't publish it - include your email address & I'll write you back).

And to those of you who weren't, I hope you continue to enjoy your reading. I don't need any comments along the lines of "that's so ridiculous, etc" - we all have room to grow & a critical re-reading of my blog revealed a few instances where a misinterpretation of my statements could have led to individuals being offended. They were amended.

On an entirely separate note - we are doing ok! Kai & Mika continue to thrive, though Kai is doing it with one less toenail than normal as his big toenail got taken off by a door earlier this week. We did purchase a vehicle!!! and our paperwork is all being processed. I also renewed my Kenya's driver license and Chris got his alien registration card - so much progress!

My parents got back in country last Friday and we are absolutely 'chuffed' to have them back. Kai completely knew who they were, and has spent some afternoons running in circles in our living room saying "Kokoo & Babu, Kokoo & Babu, go to their house? go to their house?" (Kokoo (sounds like cocoa) is Maasai for grandmother, and Babu is Swahili for grandpa).

We've also continued to develop relationships with friends we've met and are feeling more & more settled here. Also, I've officially arrived at a place where I love being home with the kids - which is amazing.

Chris and I made a pact to be done with our separate activities tonight by 10:15 so I've got to run. Expect to be hearing more from me soon! I have lots to tell you from the past few weeks, and plenty of things I've been thinking through. Plus, pics and more pics to share.

Happy weekend!

1 comment:

  1. I know you said you didn't need people to comment with "That's ridiculous," but I am going to say that I LOVE reading your blog BECAUSE of the cultural components. This blog is my little escape to Kenya- a country that I did occasionally have cultural frustrations with but even those frustrations were part of my "love affair" with the country. Thanks for being my escape- Susan Billingsley Pilkington


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