The Origin of This Series
31 Days in My [Insert Label Here] Skin:
A few months ago I heard a podcast wherein a woman talked about how, a few years back, she wrote a blog series for the Write 31 Days Challenge called “31 Days in My Brown Skin.” It was a series of essays simply talking about life and the world from her point of view— as a light-skinned African American woman living in a primarily white community. The author’s name is Deidra Riggs.
After hearing Deidra talk on the podcast about the origin and aim of her 2012 blog series, I was immediately intrigued. Given the fact that I am a learner, a lover of stories, and fascinated by each person’s unique journey in this world, I couldn’t wait to hop onto her site and read through the series. Plus— especially given the political climate in our country right now, with so much divisiveness and accusation and lack of empathy (specifically centered around racial tensions)— I was curious to see what wisdom she might share about this particular topic.
To write about what has the potential to be such a sensitive topic for so many took tremendous courage on Deidra’s part. In the podcast interview, as a matter of fact, Deidra admitted her reservations about “going there.”
“When you write about something like this,” she said, “you’re afraid that you’re going to say the wrong thing— and you will. It just will happen. You will speak out of ignorance, you will accidentally offend someone, you will say something that gets people in a huff. But I have learned that a relationship can withstand that. If people are reading something with good intentions and a good heart, they will still engage with you and you can move on from that.”
I finished up the podcast and then immediately hopped onto Deidra’s website to read her entire series for myself. I loved it. I loved the experience of being able to climb inside her brain and heart and just peek out at the world from her perspective for awhile. I loved the empathy it bred in me. I loved learning a little bit about what her unique journey in life has been like.
Deidra’s courage to “go there” and talk about life from her perspective as a “brown skinned woman” was so insightful. I decided I wanted to attempt something similar.
BUT the thought of picking just ONE defining characteristic of myself (i.e. my ethnicity or my faith or my gender or my role as a Mom or my role as a Police Officer’s Wife, etc) felt just too one-dimensional for me.
I’m more than just ONE label. We all are!
I am a complex, multi-dimensional, always-changing human being who is hopefully growing into someone newer, better, stronger, and more compassionate each day.
To pick just one label to define myself and to try to write about life from that one sliver of my self was just not engaging enough for me. It felt too stifling.
So this is what I’ve decided to do: Instead of picking just one, like Deidra so bravely and compassionately did, I’m going dive into and hash out several of my different labels, defining roles, characteristics, and personality traits. Because I am all of them.
Yes, I will (eventually) talk about my role as a White Person, and as a Jesus-Follower, and as a Woman and a Mom and a “Cop’s Wife” and a resident of one of the most culturally-diverse areas in the world (the SF Bay Area in California) at some point in this series.
I will talk about the labels I’ve been given that I love. I will talk about the labels I’ve been given that I can’t stand.
I will talk about what I do when all I hear are the negative, limiting labels screaming at me, trying to bog me down and sidetrack me from God’s good purposes in my life. I will talk about books that have influenced and bred empathy in me. I will talk about stories that inspire me. I will share stories friends have told me regarding how labels have impacted their lives. I will even look at a few stories in the Bible and reflect on how Jesus responded to a particular “labeled” person when He walked the earth.
And my hope and prayer is that when I do it will help cultivate at least a smidge of empathy in those who take the time to read my words.
This 31 Day Writing Challenge is always a fascinating, insightful experience for me. I never really know what will come pouring out of me over the month. Writing every single day is always a challenge, there’s no doubt about it. Living my “real life” while simultaneously pumping out (hopefully at least semi-coherent) words will take a lot of effort. And, of course, I may not make it some days simply because life is messy and sometimes the urgency or importance of my “real life” demands and relationships might trump this writing challenge at times.
But we’ll see how it goes!
In any case: I’m looking forward to digging into this a bit with you!
See you tomorrow, friends. 🙂
*To get to the main menu, where you can view and click on everything I end up posting for this 31 Day Challenge, click here.
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What about you?
What interview have you listened to, or what book or blog series have you read, that has influenced you lately? Do you have any recommendations to pass along? What are some of the labels you identify with?
Please share your journey in the comment section below.