It’s Labor Day Weekend and the dictionary offers this definition of labor, “work, especially hard physical work” as well as the side-note that we describe the human transition of childbirth as labor. Well, if childbirth isn’t hard physical work, I don’t know what is!
So, I’ve begun to consider what “hard work” I’ve been up to this summer, since school ended in May and summer cruised by bringing us to this beautiful weekend leading into fall. What has been my “hard work?”
Well, a couple of thing come to mind:
- I’m learning to create interesting, productive online courses (this is hard work!)
- Along with each online course there must be useful, instructive, and elegant tools – fortunately, I have help with these, as I am not a designer – but they too, have been my work.
- I’m learning to produce videos and while that sounds easy, it is more complex than I expected, and ultimately, a good bit of work!
- I’m formulating a theory about the “Arc of Life” and soon, that will become at least an essay, maybe a book, so I guess that counts as work too.
- I’m building an office (fortunately, I have a real carpenter doing the heavy lifting) so that when we can once again be in each other’s company, I have a place for welcoming clients!
But, while all these projects feel like work, and they certainly occupy my time and energies, they are not the only labor I find myself engaged in. I’m also trying to delve into the literature and discussions of racism which envelope our community today. I’m digging into three books this fall (as if one would not be sufficient). . .
- Dying of Whiteness by Jonathan Metzl, MD, who postulates that the right-wing policies that resulted from this white backlash put these same voters’ very health at risk—and in the end, threaten everyone’s well-being. I can see it happening, even in my own family – a curious phenomenon!
- White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo a sociologist who challenges the common definition of racism, “intentional acts of racial discrimination committed by immoral people” and offers instead Omowale Akintunde’s definition to her readers, “Racism is a systemic, societal, institutional, omnipresent and epistemologically embedded phenomenon that pervades every vestige of our reality.” Not every Black critic appreciates DiAngelo’s writing, but for most newly-woke Whites, it has moved onto the Required Reading List this summer.
- I’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown, a New York Times bestseller that offers an eye-opening account of growing up Black, Christian, and female and explains how white America’s love affair with “diversity” so often falls short of its ideals.
For myself, an older White woman, this reading is becoming my real “labor” of 2020. It involves discovering on a deeper level what I believe about myself and my relationships, how I move in the world and respect (or fail to respect) other people, and what lies ahead as a realistic role for me in a changing world that embraces anti-racism and strives for equity and justice in our communities and society at large.
What’s your labor like right now? Have you found a “labor of love” worthy of your time and effort? Will it touch your life deeply? Will it change how you think, act or respond to others. I hope so.