What Do You Want Argh To Do?

I’m having a hard time concentrating this week, even harder than usual, because my country appears to be imploding. Since I’m firmly on the side of the protesters, I’m thinking this is a good thing, the kind of thing that brings about change that’s much needed, but there’s so much bad to go with it, which means I should be doing something, saying something. Also I’m getting a root canal today. Added to all of that is the knowledge that the few times I’ve spoken up, I’ve gotten clobbered with “Oh, Jennifer, I’m so disappointed in you,” from readers who evidently thought that I must agree with them in thought, word, and deed or fall from grace, and my inclination is to step aside, not so much so that I won’t disappoint anybody (fuck them, my job is not to live up to their expectations) but because what I think and do are irrelevant. I think this is why I’m obsessively rereading the Murderbot stories: They’re about a powerful being with a strong central moral core who protects good people and defeats the bad, and it doesn’t hurt that when he needs to escape reality, he watches stories obsessively.

So my inclination is to keep rereading, survive the root canal, and try to make sense of the last HWSW chat Bob and I did Tuesday because my part was all over the freaking place. And to go out for the first time in two weeks to get my bank papers notarized and pick up some brioche so I can go face down in butter and jam sandwiches on lethal white bread after the root canal. (I’m assuming I will be given good drugs.) Also possibly doughnuts.

In the meantime, I’m trying to decide if writing Argh posts to directly talk about the flames is a good thing or a bad thing. Not that we’d try to stop anybody from talking about what’s going on, but is it better if this is a place where people can come to talk about books and roses and dessert without having to address the revolution, or do I need to write a post that says, “Racism is bad, I stand with the protestors.” Racism is bad and I do stand with the protestors, but I’m thinking maybe holding a door open for people to escape from the chaos may not be a bad thing, either.

Or it may just be me evading my responsibilities. Because the revolution that’s happening is not just an interesting news story, it’s my country, it’s the world, it’s everybody.

Also, I need sleep, so my decision making is not up to par. Plus there’s a bank and a root canal in my immediate future so my focus is lacking.

Argh. What do you want it to be right now?

97 thoughts on “What Do You Want Argh To Do?

  1. I’ve been following your posts for a while and one of the reasons for that is because I like your politics and your general attitude to the world, and I know you’re not going to suddenly decide that Trump is a REALLY GOOD PERSON. I always find your comments interesting when you step into broader issues, but I also like hearing about what you’re reading, and the dogs, and the bears (particularly because that’s one thing we don’t have in Tasmania), and everything else. So I’m fine either way. Which is probably really unhelpful. Do what makes you happy.

    1. Political commentary is so ubiquitous online that I appreciate having places where books and dogs and gardening and happy things are the focus.

  2. I’m watching your country implode from afar in shock and horror and feeling angry about the insidious racism here too. Having argh as a place to talk about it might be good. Having it as a place to read about murderbot is good too. That’s probably not much help either, but I don’t feel like I’m thinking clearly, really.

  3. I think you’re on the right track, acknowledging the flames and saying something, while also including some escapist mentions of books and food.

    I would love to see you highlight your favorite authors of color, especially the ones who also write smart romance (or sci fi!). I’ll start with Jasmine Guillory, Adriana Herrera, and Talia Hibbert–who else?

    1. Ooh, that’s a great idea, in keeping with the reading/writing focus of the community — raising up some Black authors and stepping back so they can tell their stories.

  4. Maybe I’m overthinking it, but here’s my 4 cents (adjusted for inflation)

    Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom said something on twitter and I wish I could find the exact quote. It was about coronavirus, not Black Lives Matter or George Floyd, but I think what she said still applies. To paraphrase her, it was something like “we’re all on here together and we think we’re experiencing the same thing (the coronavirus) but it’s impacting us all differently (some grieving, some scared, some angry, some just mildly bored) and that and being trapped in our houses almost 24/7 is what causes twitter to melt down into chaos.”

    And I think that’s true of this. White people like myself can all turn on the news and try to do our due diligence, but anti-Black racism is never going to impact us all equally and that shapes our world view. Online public conversations will reflect that in ways that may be good (enlightening) and also not-so-good (alienating to nonwhite people and reinforcing stereotypes.) Even when it’s people who have good intentions.

    Truthfully? I think inner reflection, listening to and amplifying nonwhite voices, and working on things in private (or public if you’re going to a protest!) is probably the most important thing. I worry as a white woman if I talk about too much about what I’m doing and what I feel, it becomes performative and centered on me. How much is too much? I don’t know, so maybe that’s not helpful. You don’t want to be silent or complicit either.

    I don’t think that means we need to shy away from discussion completely, I just think centering the discussion here on racism may (unintentionally) hurt may than it helps. I appreciate you acknowledge Trump is bad (very, very bad). Racism is bad. Racism kills people and specifically anti-Black racism hurts a lot of people in America and it has for a long, long time. And that’s something all white people have to sit with and deal with, even if it’s uncomfortable. No quick conversations or hash tags will fix it. It’s a life long thing and just part of the responsibility of being human. Sorry to end on a bummer, but that’s how I feel.

    1. That’s not really a bummer, Jill Q., it’s just how it is. No quick patch, no Aaron Sorkin speech and it’s all cleared up, just listening, being uncomfortable, being embarrassed that this stuff can still surprise me. Voting, witnessing, whatever version of protest you choose.
      As for this site, I think we’ll talk about what we talk about, we usually do. It all exists together at the same time.
      My sympathies about the root canal, I hope by now it’s done, and you have good drugs and brioche.

      1. Voting, witnessing and learning history – I think the latter is really important. There’s so much stuff in Australia that has been quietly and conveniently forgotten by the white population. And while we are all told to remember Gallipoli (WW I) and the sacrifice of our soldiers, Aboriginal people are repeatedly told to get over the past and look to the future.

        1. To your point, Lian: I read an L.A. Times front-page story this week about what happened in Australia three years ago. An Aboriginal man in prison, three weeks from parole, died from being thrown to the ground by officers and then having his neck compressed. His offense was eating cookies past the time for snacks. His dying words were “I can’t breath.”

  5. Books, flowers, dogs, etc please. I get enuf of all the other stuff pretty much everywhere else.

  6. I rarely comment, but I do read every post. For me, it’s a nice place to get away from the news and the stress. I love reading everyone’s Working Wednesday, the book recommendations and Lily. Like others have stated, I don’t know that I can add anything to the conversation that wouldn’t backfire or sound pretentious. I tend to avoid engaging in online conversation that can be contentious. It always seems to unravel into a holy mess, even when people go in with the best of intentions.

    That being said, if you feel driven to say something, this is your place to say it.

    1. Yes., generally stick to ‘normal’ things but if someone needs to rant then go for it. This is kind of a safe space for it.

      My happy my-country-is-dying thought-Kudos to the mayor of DC for painting the street. The big, yellow Black Lives Matter can surely be read from the White House (unless you’re in the bunker).

      Jenny, hope the root canal went well and the drugs don’t wear off quickly. Did the denist and assistants have Murderbot face shields?

  7. I actually came up with an idea for a story for the first time in like ZILLIONS OF YEARS, so this is the first place I came – to look at how you’re treating the work these days, what you’re struggling with, all that. I’d say just keep doing you, sister. And I hope the root canal goes well.

    Love from the UK (yep, I shacked up with Paul) –


  8. Something that all of us here share is a love of books. I would like to see a post in which people are encouraged to make book recommendations highlighting black authors, black history, racism, anti-racist activism, etc. I would like recommendations from any genre: fiction, non-fiction, biographies, historical, American or anywhere in the world. Really anything that may be helpful for those of us who love a good book and are open to learn and grow.

    1. Dian, that’s a good idea. I will say, I belong to 3 different libraries (yes, I always want moar books) and they are all putting up antiracism and Black Lives Matter reading lists in prominent places on their websites, social media, etc. It may be a good place to start even if waiting lists are long. Also if you’re in the mood and can afford to spend, a lot of independent bookstores are putting up reading lists (shoutout to Loyalty Bookstores b/c they’re my local store.)
      If you’re looking for romance, I like the website WOC in Romance, does what it says on the tin and run by the very hardworking Rebekah Weatherspoon. I’m not familiar with “I Found this Great Book”, but it looks like they have directory of Black mystery writers and I definitely plan to check it out b/c mystery is my big genre love after romance.
      My favorite baking blogger did a post where she did touch on Black Lives Matter and some anti-racism general resources but then she highlighted Black food bloggers and Black cookbook writers which I thought was a great choice. Everyone is there b/c they love food, baking, and cooking and are looking for new recipes.

      1. Thanks for the website – just bookmarked it and put it right next to Argh so I can look at titles and buy a couple as the budget allows.

  9. You can’t ever lose the teacher in you, huh? There’s an amazing diversity, depth, and fun in the topics you bring up. (Is it like preparing lesson plans?) You inform and entertain, build community, do good creative things and invite us in.

    This blog is a gift. Your humor, quickness, writing is a gift. Your rants are a glorious gift. They are not irrelevant. You have not evaded anything as near as I can tell. Trust us readers to respond honestly, stupidly, insightfully, ready to defend our positions. Or even ignore a post.

    I vote talking about the flames. Reflecting, venting, coping. With the discussion rules you established back in Hilary-bashing posts, it’ll be a reasoned, helpful source of ideas to get through this scourge (that’s Ken Cook’s of Environmental Working Group’s word).

    There’s also room for dachshund distractions. I vote for it all.

    1. Me too. I don’t need a lot of commentary in my life but this isn’t my blog, it’s Jenny’s. Therefore whatever Jenny feels the need to talk about, she should talk about. I will read it because it’s Jenny, and if I have a thought about it I will comment. Same as on John Scalzi’s blog, or Chuck Wendig’s. Those are mostly writing blogs too, but writers don’t work (or exist) in a vacuum. We are all feeling this.

  10. I tend to come here for a breather after watching democracy implode on various other sites, so selfishly I’d like to keep it that way. But I’m part of a group that has the luxury to choose, which is a huge part of the problem.

    I could be wrong, but I don’t think this community is terribly diverse. I would tend to look elsewhere for anti-racism resources. I’m in no way qualified to comment, only to pass along links to other voices.

    I like the idea of book suggestions that people have actually read, but honestly, if there’s one thing that’s easy to find right now, it’s lists of suggested books and other resources that we can all use to educate ourselves. Perhaps people could link to interesting lists that they’ve found in places that we might not all know about (like the baking blog). This isn’t a book, but I highly recommend searching out the segments that Amber Ruffin has been doing on Seth Meyers’ show. She’s one of his writers, and her pieces are always worth watching.

    In the end though, it’s your blog, so you should do what you feel pulled to do!

    1. Recommendations for books that people have read and loved are what I would like to see. And personally, I would prefer fiction. Romances, mysteries, action, adventure, the books we usually talk about, just written by black authors.

      I can’t tell you how many times just a single line from a book that I’m reading for pleasure has shifted the way I look at the world.

  11. Honestly, I feel that as a shitty white person, I need to shut up. It’s not my place now. I have never regretted keeping my mouth shut but I have many many times regretted when I spoke up and spoke out. Including yesterday when I got In Trouble for doing so. Not worth it. I don’t want to hurt or offend anyone and I can’t think of a way that I won’t end up doing it somehow.

    I agree, racism is bad, this is awful, etc. but I don’t feel like I can do anything but upset people more, so I’m not going to.

    Also I am having a shit week for personal reasons in addition to all of the world drama, so.

    1. Jennifer, if you think, as a “shitty white person,” that you should keep your mouth shut, then imagine how I, a shitty old privileged white male, must feel.

      Regardless, I need to ask, “Why haven’t the doctors declared Trump mentally incapacitated and no longer able to carry out the duties of the President of the United States?” The impeachment was totally political and partisan and payback for Clinton, but the dementia is obvious.

      No more politics from me.

      1. Hah, been wondering that for years. Also, how does he never come down with the virus?!

        Hillary would have been impeached and convicted within a month of taking the oath.

      1. The weekend at least should be better. But my work is heinous. Management has just been REALLY SHITTY to me beyond belief. They hate me.

        But I get to “leave” early today, so only an hour left to go!

    2. I have a similar paralysis. I don’t know what to do to help. There is a lot of conflicting information out there and every action seems to have a downside.

  12. Jenny, I see you making constant efforts to make this a safe and welcoming community for all, and I want to recognize that.

    I also think it’s important that you’ve acknowledged the reality of the current situation in this post, and since this is your blog mainly about writing and your life, I don’t think you need to necessarily provide post after post about topics you don’t usually cover – that would be disingenuous. And I agree that people also need to have a mental break and safe places to retreat.

    However, I’m also trying very hard to see and recognize my own privilege as a white person and I would invite other white people to be mindful of the fact that while they may have the option to engage or not engage in this topic or to choose when and how to engage, many of our friends and loved ones do not have the luxury of it being a choice – they are constantly thrust into situations where race is a conscious or unconscious part of the conversation.

    As a white person, I personally often feel uncertain when it comes to race : “If I say X…will people think I mean Y? If I do Z is that being an affirming ally or does it look like trying to make it all about me? If I say something in the wrong way, will I hurt someone’s feelings and make things worse? Is my addition to this conversation meaningful, or is it covering up the contributions of people who have a more informative experience? If, as a white reader, I come in and say – ‘I don’t need to see you doing anything special to acknowledge this’, does that make it harder for a nonwhite reader to be able to say that it would be important for her that something more is done for this community to feel as inclusive and welcoming as you want it to be?”….and on

    Mostly, right now I’m trying hard to listen, and what I think I’m hearing is that while the conversation needs to be centered and lead by people of color, white people need to remind each other that this isn’t a “black” issue that we’re not part of. It’s a societal issue… and if we’re serious about helping, we also need to engage to the extent we can.

    So for example, I am not in a position to be able to go out and join physical protests right now… but I am in the position where I’m raising a little 4 year old white boy. So I have stepped up efforts to expose him to books and stories about people of color so that he can empathize with all kinds of people. There’s a town hall about race on CNN with Sesame Street tomorrow morning that I’m going to watch with him so that we have an opportunity to learn together and have a chance to have a conversation about things he may have questions about. These are not big things, but they are small deliberate steps that I can take to help see and promote understanding of different experiences of living in this country in my sphere within the bandwidth and resources I have.

    Maybe if you want to take an action that would feel true to you and true to the blog, you could consider doing a special focus for the next Good Book Thursday to specifically request if people want to highlight books celebrating diverse experiences or about race and racism and implicit biases, you could help shine a special light on that. That might be a safe and respectful way to do something that makes sense within the context of our community.

    You don’t have to get on your high horse with writing a million think pieces to be helpful – nor should you – but you could consider occasionally incorporating ways to boost and amplify what others are doing. I think that would be a nice enhancement for this community.

    For anyone else who is feels that uncertainty I mentioned, I want to make sure that I share these antiracism resources complied by filmmaker Sarah Sophie Flicker and writer/activist Alyssa Klein that I’ve seen circulated about ways to be a better white ally. I’ve found it extremely helpful: bit.ly/ANTIRACISMRESOURCES

    1. Totally agree. As a white person, start with listening, empathy and education (for yourself and others). Then we can move on to helping with the harder stuff with a better understanding. Seeing as Jenny has already outed herself as a decent human being, I agree that a themed Good Book Thursday is good positive action and seems entirely in keeping with what the blog is about. The usual genres I read are by default not particularly diverse so I would appreciate having some recommendations to liven up my book lists. Educational or just plain fun, it’s all good.

  13. It’s your blog and you can say what you want to. (sung to the tune of….)

    That said, I don’t think it is your ARGH duty to comment specifically on world affairs. I think all regular readers know where your stand philosophically already. If you want to say something about world events because we are a community and you want to share, it’s fine. Otherwise, it is not what I come here for. I would rather we talk about food and books and pets and gardens.

    And hopefully a easy, happy recovery from a root canal.

  14. Books, flowers, dogs, and (for me) “Hamilton” lyrics. Generally, I like the idea of holding the door open to escape the chaos, but I also wanted to share that listening to Hamilton has been cheering me up. It seems more timely than ever now, and somehow that lifts my spirits. Until cellphone videos came along, I was living in this happy bubble of thinking we’d mostly dealt with racism during the 60s, and color really wasn’t much of a factor any longer. And of course, in some places and some situations it’s not, but clearly a huge problem still exists. It helps me to consider that maybe this, maybe now, is actually a time of great healing. At the least, it’s a great opportunity for healing, and I want to keep focusing on that. So I think of Hamilton’s “The Schuyler Sisters” song: “Look around, look around; the revolution’s happening. . . . There’s shouting in the square. Bad enough, bad enough there’ll be violence on our shores—but new ideas in the air! . . . Look around, look around; how lucky we are to be alive right now.” It gives me some hope and helps me focus on the healing possibilities in this moment, especially since I haven’t taken any physical action myself. I do attempt, now and always, to spread kindness and positive energy in all my interactions. (Don’t always achieve that, of course.) I strongly believe energy and vibration make a big difference; I think change happens vibrationally before it manifests in the physical. And when I’m not feeling kind, I reflect on Hamilton’s King George character and our Would-Be-King Trump character: “You’re making me mad . . . soon you’ll see, You’ll remember you belong to me. . . . And when push comes to shove, I will send a fully armed battalion to remind you of my love. Da, da, da, da, da . . . ”

  15. I’ve been thinking about how in first aid responder training, they tell you you’re not supposed to yell “someone call 911” because everyone assumes someone else in the crowd will do it. You’re supposed to ask a specific person to do it. So instead of making general social media posts, I’ve been focusing on doing one specific direct action that a Black lead organization or Black person has asked me to do. Maybe it’s just a matter of expanding Working Wednesdays to include a check in of “what did you do to fight racism this week?”. It can be as small as watching a YouTube video where the add revenue goes to Black Lives Matter. Or emailing your mayor about the 8 policy changes departments can make to reduce police killings. I forget the name of the campaign. I think it’s run by campaign zero?

  16. There is a lot to be said for just celebrating life and focusing on the business of living. Especially through turmoil and chaotic difficult times. One of the best recent moments of my life happened when we took a short drive and watched the pelicans; they nest at a nearby wildlife refuge and were swimming in a waterfall, fishing and floating and going around with their big ridiculous flappy feet and their majestic 9 foot wingspans and it hit me that the world is so much more than people and human problems. It was a needed reminder, because sometimes the human problems seem so huge and overwhelming, it feels like that’s all there is.

    I don’t want those who are causing widespread harm to also make everything about them. They don’t own the world. They don’t own every part of our lives either, and we don’t owe them all of our attention. There is space for a good book and a garden and watching birds and finding the nest of wild bees hidden in the wisteria and examining ladybugs in the roses to see if there is a 9-spot to report to the Lost Ladybug Project. If we want to talk about books and recipes and how successful the sourdough is, I hope it grinds their authoritarian beans that they don’t own our minds and creative souls. We are writing the stories of our lives and writing the stories of how life might be or could be. Authoritarianism hates creativity, so I think the most revolutionary thing to do is keep being creative.

  17. I come here because of you. I think you should write whatever you feel you should write about whether it’s about racism or competence porn or decluttering. I like it when you write about white bread and jam, too. I don’t want another blog that is crowd-sourced to be as bland as possible. Do what you want. It’s authentic – I thirst for that. I’m a grown-up – I’ll take care of me and my feelings.

  18. As a veteran of 20-30 root canals (yes, virtually of my teeth, due to a genetic disorder that makes them susceptible to bacterial infection), and one of the last remaining untouched ones needs a root canal soon), two suggestions: if they don’t give you Vicodin/percocet, or even if they do, once they run out if you’re still having discomfort, Naproxen (Aleve) is the best for dental pain, according to both my dentist and my personal experience. It’s always been enough, without the heavey-duty stuff that doesn’t agree with me, after both root canals and extractions.

    Second, you can check with the endodontist to confirm, but gently swishing ice water can help with the gum swelling that causes a good portion of the pain. (Swishing not recommended for extraction though!). An ice pack on the face near the affected tooth can also help.

    As for the actual question, I’m hearing a lot of Black activists saying that now is the time for white people to sit back and listen, to publish/forward the Black stories, but not to comment on them or do our own essays. That’s what I’m doing. Witnessing and listening, but leaving the microphone in the hands of more qualified speakers.

  19. I think as its your blog, you should be the one to decide.

    I, too, appreciate having a place to escape to and something else to read about; but if you choose to write an occasional well-written post on the subject and I don’t feel like reading it that day, then I won’t read it that day. Maybe you don’t want to do it while still recovering from the root canal (I had one, and survived it with just ibuprophen, but that’s me).

    Just saying, there’s never a time when well-reasoned and articulate communication is a bad idea. Assuming you are feeling well-reasoned and articulate, and knowing you are probably going to receive a few severe “tut-tut”s, marshal your thoughts, sharpen your writing skills and say what you gotta say. You can always post an alternative for anyone who doesn’t feel like going there that day. On any given day, I might avoid it myself. But you have the right to say it and this feels like an important time to make sure we are actually exercising those rights.

  20. I kind of agree with Gin. We all need to do some sitting back and listening. And being the change that we want to have happen. I truly don’t think this site could turn into one of those all caps “you are totally wrong and I am totally right and I always knew you were a poopyhead!” kind of places. Debate won’t help us do better, but kindness, applied widely, just might. You be you, Jenny. With or without root canals.

  21. I enjoy your posts whether they’re about writing or about current politics. Both give me pleasure because your views generally represent mine, and I deeply respect your knowledge and art.

    I would like to have blogs identified by which kind they are. I don’t want to be reading along in a blog about dachshunds and quilts — to be suddenly slung a strong statement about current politics. I’ve made that mistake myself and regret having done it.

    As I said, I come to read about interesting ideas from interesting people. I feel more comfortable here because your politics are closer to mine than those I find in other places.

  22. There is racism in every country Jenny, though not as overt as that against Black people in America. I hoped when schools were integrated this would help Americans, and I think it has as more outrage is being expressed Now.

    This is your blog and if someone doesn’t like it they can get lost

  23. Good luck with the root canal. May it be much smaller in real life than it looked in the x-ray.
    I think you should do whatever you please with the blog. Although I agree that we probably aren’t the most diverse group around, that doesn’t mean that we all want the same thing. If you try to please all of us, nobody will be happy. But if you leave the topics less specific, people will provide links that can lead to further learning. What we do with those resources is up to us.

  24. This is off subject, but Loretta Chase just posted on her blog that she has turned in the manuscript for her next novel and it is scheduled for release in December.

  25. There was a young black man protesting on the streets of L.A. and he was asked what he hoped this would achieve. He said he didn’t want promises anymore. We’ve all seen the results of prior marches where promises are made and little is done. He asked for change, visible change, not the promise of change. That spoke to me.
    Action is necessary. As one old white woman it made me pause and think what I could do. My knees wouldn’t like to march. But, I could speak out. I could put money behind the causes that will make the greatest difference. Vote at the local level. Vote in November. Read. Read a ton, educate myself and stay informed.

  26. As others have said, this is your blog and if you post something that a person doesn’t like, they don’t have to read it. I know you won’t make this a blog about only politics, only social problems, but if you want to address them in any way, that’s your choice.

    I like the idea of occasionally have a theme for your Good Book post; doesn’t have to be all the time, or maybe for a specific time. I tend to not read a diverse selection of authors, but I want to change that. I just have a difficult time adding in new authors. It’s kind of like agoraphobia but for books.

    I enjoy what you write, no matter what it is. It’s my responsibility to not read something I don’t want to, not yours.

  27. First off, good luck with the root canal.

    I don’t come here for the politics. That said, I’ve THOROUGHLY enjoyed your occasional rant and have thought, “yes, that!” on reading them.

    Regarding current events, I feel like I’m just bouncing between feelings of horror and grief and rage and impotence. It’s exhausting. I’m not walking with protesters except in my heart. When I see black and white protesting together peacefully, it gives me hope. Also, I’m praying every last one of the protesters is registered to vote.

  28. There are these major events happening, it would be weird not to acknowledge them. I mean, I regularly ignore major things I guess – there are wars and human rights injustices the world over that I’m currently ignoring, but they’re not saturating my news feed. Also, I feel that we shouldn’t ignore the big issues. If we want the world to be better, pretending nothing is happening won’t achieve that.

    Saying that, from my perspective, I don’t need a ‘this is where argh stands’ statement piece. Just an acknowledgement that it’s happening, it’s affecting us, that it’s important, and that you’re supportive of change – and you’ve just done that. So we can carry on talking about books (Yes! by BIPOC authors, awesome idea!), and gardening and food, in full acknowledgement of the big things going on outside.

  29. Also, (sorry I’m on a roll now), ‘I’m so disappointed in you Jenny’ – really?! Oh dear. That’s almost funny, but I’m not on the receiving end. Is that like the opposite pf

    there are some things that it’s OK to say ‘yep, we disagree about this, so let’s not discuss it’. And there’s other things where you have to draw a line, where you say ‘actually, if you think this, we can’t be friends anymore’.
    And frankly, that line is different for different relationships – my mother in law is somewhat homophobic (CW “Well they can love who they want I guess, but I don’t need to see ‘them’ kissing on TV”) which I try to work against but I still see her. But a casual gym friend who had similar unshakeable (religion driven) views is no longer a friend.

    Where is the line between ‘difference of opinion’ and ‘right v wrong’?

    1. Whoops, I hit send accidentally. I was trying to get my thoughts in order! Never mind, they weren’t very coherent in the first place.

    2. I think it comes when the difference of opinion turns into personal attack.
      “I don’t agree with you” is fine.
      “I don’t agree with you and you’re ugly” is not.
      “I don’t agree with you and you’re ugly because you don’t agree with me” really crosses the line.

      Should have mentioned, that happened on an RWA chat board, one of the many reasons I left the RWA chat boards.

      1. They got worse, especially towards the end of last year and the beginning of this one. The new board finally shut most of them down. I ran away long before that.

  30. People have been so articulate–no surprise–in saying what I want to say, so thanks and amen. I’m becoming aware of the impact of the virus isolation, not being able to go to work, church, museums, or to sing. I am so sick of Zoom meetings! And that doesn’t mean I think I’m the only one, and I have it pretty easy, all things considered.

    As a white woman over 65, I feel I have very little to offer to my black friends, other than checking in on them to make sure they are okay and know I care. We’ve had protests and riots here, boarded up windows, broken glass, but I’m not in harm’s way.

    I had the chance to take the latest batch of semi-feral kittens to a no-kill shelter, but burst into tears thinking about it. I realized animals are the only species I know right now who aren’t afraid, or angry, or anxious. With so many things I took for granted gone now, I couldn’t part with the joy the kittens give.

    Same for this blog, Jenny, which you’ve made into a wondrous space. I listened to someone from the city commission stating his own commitment to justice; he said “engage your heart.” I think that happens on this site, and I believe that it will continue. That will be true whether we talk about Black Lives Matter or crochet patterns. I love coming here for respite, and look forward to whatever you have to say.

  31. The pandemic forced isolation. Another man died in front of our eyes. The news is horrific. Where is justice? Yet, we press on even when it feels and seems so hopeless.

    Probably why re-reading is a comfort. This is a community. It has always been a place to share.

    Jenny, I’m sorry for the judgement and expressions of “being so disappointed in you” which was basically a scolding by a self-righteous person. This is your space. Visitors agree to disagree but don’t treat Jenny with disrespect.

    This is a place to commiserate and rejoice and worry and share sympathies and have a good belly laugh, and, I think, express intelligent comments in a world gone mad. Never know when an “ah, ha moment” could change one’s view.

    Many commercials with “we are all in this together” with very stylized settings of home life, nature, etc. right now. And. There is still bad stuff happening.

    I come for the community and the community is not blind. A respite in the crazy world, yeah. Entertaining, yeah. New books, yeah, yeah. Writing, yeah, yeah. Creativity, yeah. Self expression or not, yeah. Grace, yeah, hope so.

    Youngest son said what is happening in America is so heart wrenching, it is like the very soul of America is torn. So many are hurting. We are not exempt from racism either. Teach our children well, there will always be bad people and bad things happening to good people. Only thing is to vote for people with tested character values. And, hope.

    I’ll just tuck the box under the desk now.

    Hope your root canal is not too painful. Rest and painkillers.

  32. I like Beverly’s comment “Political commentary is so ubiquitous online that I appreciate having places where books and dogs and gardening and happy things are the focus. ” This is SOOOO me. For good mental health I need to have a place to go read about things that are not anxiety inducing. I can and do read widely on all political sides, but I truly treasure the spaces where I know I can just relax and mentally decompress. It is your blog. You do you. But know that you having a space that is relatively free from the horrors shown on TV and the screams from political henchman on all sides is so very much appreciated. There are days that if I didn’t know there were a few “safe” spots on the internet I could go and read and smile and hear about doggies and fiber arts, and writing and book recommendations, I’d just do my usual hermit thing and not interact with any one.

  33. I’ve all kinds of outlets for the political stuff. Books, yarn, pets, and gardening-this is a perfect space for all of it.

  34. I’m a long time lurker here but I wanted to post to add my two cents. I think it is important to say something and not to ignore this moment. It would be easy to look away and immerse ourselves in an escape from the terrible news happening around us- but this is part of the problem and as a white woman this would be using my privilege by doing that.

    I know it may be an uncomfortable conversation to have and there will be people who will not agree but this feels like a moment where we really really shouldn’t look away. I’m not suggesting that this become a deeply political blog or a place for heated debate, but this is a time to have some uncomfortable conversations and try to help if and where we can.

    I would guess the demographic who contributes here was also a key demographic in the last election and maybe that’s one of the groups who needs to hear and articulate their feelings the most if we want to see some change in November.

  35. I confess, I mostly need this blog as therapy and a hiding place from the rest of the world. But I also love your rants, so I’m fine with whatever you want to do.

  36. I vote, I try not to do things that are racist, I try to keep people who are racist from my life. A telling moment for me was when a black woman asked what worried me about a cop pulling my car over. Well, am I getting a ticket for driving badly or equipment malfunction is my first concern. She said her first concern was if they were looking for a criminal and was she going to be arrested, or roughed up because she was black and fit the demographic. This is something few of us seriously consider happening to us. And it shouldn’t happen to any one just because of the color of their skin. I don’t have a fix for this other than if the police act this way in my city to make it clear to the people in power that if they don’t fix it, I am voting them out and voting for someone who will try to fix it.

    1. The kid I’ve been reading with since she was in kindergarten is now 26 and a fairly new cop. I’d love to ask her what she feels about this but I know she has been working 12 hour shifts with no days off, so I don’t think now is the time. I also think I’m afraid that she will now have the “cop” mentality and will now see me as one of “them”.

    2. I was looking at a college friend’s driver license one day a million years ago and unthinkingly started to rib him a little because he had the silliest, goofiest grin in his photo…and he shut me down so quickly, “Katie – I’m black. I smiled like that on purpose. If I get pulled over, I need any advantage I can have to make sure that the cop knows I’m a nice guy and no threat. I don’t want a photo of me not smiling and giving them the chance to see me as a thug”

      It was a truly life altering moment for me…because naive and white 19 year old me in a time well before twitter or body cams or Black Lives Matter had never realized prior to that moment the stark reality of how concerned and vigilant my black friends need to be just navigating their everyday lives.

  37. Replying without reading any one else’s because I need this to come from my mind and intellect.

    One post at minimum is probably quite necessary because to even have a sanctuary like Argh is a function of privilege.

    ArghInk is, in many ways my digital home away from home. My rich online interactions exist in no small part due to ArghInk. Support from friends here has gotten me through so much.

    But it’s the novels that are the retreat. The fiction, or non fiction that Arghers write. Not the site itself.

    Even in sanctuaries like Abbey’s, Monasteries, Shalas, Ashrams, and the like, people need to reflect on the reality of the outside world so that we gain better understanding of how to improve it.

    I’m not asking anyone to go out and protest, but rather to do the work of the privileged and educate ourselves on what it means to be Black in hostile environments.

    For example, people deliberately turned talking points towards disrespecting the American Armed Forces as what Colin Kaepernick was doing when he kneeled at playing of the US anthem. HE NEVER SPOKE ABOUT THE MILITARY.

    People got hosed by foxnews talking points. So many of those same people have not seemed to realise that Colin Kaepernick kneeled because people with privilege have been kneeling on Black people for years. It took George Floyd’s death by being kneeled on for people to make the parallel.

    Some of those people were from the extended Argh family. I don’t follow them elsewhere any more as a result.

    But reflect: is respecting the symbol of the anthem more important than stopping police from kneeling on someone till they die?

    Some ideas.

    Know this: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS REVERSE RACISM. Racism is a a structural raising of one group of people over the systematic dehumanising over another. Prejudice between groups exists but it’s misdirection to bring it up when discussing actual racism.

    Educate yourselves without asking a Black person to direct you to resources.

    Do not insert yourselves into threads that are about racist incidents to discuss your awakening and development in terms of race.

    I know words can be hard when you’re feeling defensive. So start here: http://leftycartoons.com/2008/10/09/the-story-of-bob-and-race/

  38. More:


    You know what’s privilege?

    Logging online and not worrying about using your picture because you are the default race.

    Privilege is having everyone have understanding of Biblical stories and the commandments but you not knowing the Four Noble Precepts and the Eightfold path.

    Talking about Easter and Christmas and Lent knowing EVERY one will understand. But you wish someone Happy Eid Mubarak because you haven’t bothered to learn that the festival is Eid and the wish is Mubarak, so it’s either Happy Eid or Eid Mubarak.

    Privilege is you not knowing how much of your health care is based on the research atrocities against the Tuskegee airmen.

    Privilege is not realising that the US school district system is designed to keep the Black poor uneducated and disempowered.

    Privilege is not knowing you shouldn’t say, ” X is my spirit animal” because it is from a sacred process. And Indigenous Americans were not allowed to practice cultural activities as recently as 1978!!!!!

    Privilege is not having a third of the knowledge of other cultures that Black and PoC people worldwide know of yours.

    1. Just to be clear none of our health care is based on the Tuskegee studies. They were badly designed and produced no useful medical information in addition to being appalling mistreatment of people. Also they were on sharecroppers not on the Tuskegee airmen who flew in WW 2z

  39. Privilege is finding Black and PoC names as difficult to learn to say but you can pronounce Daenarys Targaryen. Check out Hasan Minhaj on Ellen https://youtu.be/3t3YhWQppAw And his clip about it afterwards.

    Privilege is someone doing the work like finding the above link, but you not googling to find out what his funny and effective analysis about it during audience time on Patriot Act.

    Privilege is never having to think that your comments will be ignored because you are Black or PoC.

    Privilege is never thinking that your words will be viewed with scepticism or actual disbelief because you are Black or PoC. People literally disbelieve what comes out of a Black or PoC’s person’s mouth.

    Privilege is being treated wonderfully by the media on the EXACT same topics that a Black or PoC person is vilified. See British Royal press re Kate’s treatment vs Meghan’s on same issues.

    Privilege is thinking you have a choice not to speak out when Black or PoC are murdered for just asking to live. See the news on murders of Ferguson protest leaders.

    Do the work.
    Black and PoC people out here trying to survive.

      1. Fake saint names are likely different because the satire directed at the cultures that hold the power are unlikely to create or enhance oppression of those cultures. I love Life Of Brian too. In the film itself they point out double standards. It’s self-awareness on celluloid.

        Where a people’s entire cultural practices have been forbidden in an attempt to erase the people, we have to be very sensitive as to how we approach those cultures. We have to ask them what they prefer. Because for so long they were not allowed any choices.

        My post started and then the next ones just poured out of me. This information wanted outlet. I’ve backed off from social media to ensure that I don’t rant. I guess I ended up with a small one here, but if we were speaking you’d hear a calm, somewhat fatigued voice, just listing them.

        So, if anyone feels judgement, I hope that they see that the aim of the list is to pick the one that is most personally relevant and work on that within ourselves.

        I’ve been doing the work for years and each time, I try to be better.

        We are good human beings, we’ve just been very misinformed and not educated by the existing systems.

        1. Thank you, Sure Thing. Not sure I have the right words to say anything else, but I didn’t want to say nothing.

      2. We cool.

        Tone is difficult to get across. And I’m tired too. So it all came flooding out in the hope one idea would spark something in someone, either a regular commentor or a lurker.

        Remember, my first post has comics because I figured a knee-jerk defensive reaction is likely from every body. It’s a self-protect mechanism.

        SE – the maga supporting neighbor is who I referenced on Working Wednesday. She’s there to support Jenny if Jenny falls over but we know a PoC visitor to Jenny’s would be viewed with suspicion. Sigh.

        I literally grew up in an apartheid state. I live in a terribly unequal society.

        I’m still doing the hard work of decolonizing my mind. The rewards are worth it though.

  40. Wow. Jenny. I don’t know why, but I was surprised at your response to ST: “But a whole list of things like that comes across as accusing the commenters of transgressing or at least of not caring.” As a woman of color, I saw ST has attempting to create awareness, not to accuse anyone of wrongdoing. Prior to reading your response to ST, I was going to say how much I have loved your books (so much so that I can quote lines from almost every one), enjoyed your blog, and appreciated that you periodically talk about what’s going on in the world. It was particularly soothing to come here to commiserate when Hillary lost. However, I am still bothered about a conversation we had about your racist neighbor who is “so nice”. At the moment, I’m not sure I can handle the level of privilege you just displayed. I guess I’ll try to sleep now for a few hours before I head off to the vigil for Breonna Taylor (African American woman who was shot by police multiple times while sleeping in her bed) at the same place where last week young protesters with skateboards in one hand and cardboard signs in the other were teargassed and hit with rubber bullets after a black man was killed by police over a $20 counterfeit bill.

    1. I know. You’re very disappointed in me.

      I don’t remember the nice racist neighbor post; I’m sure you’re right, I just don’t remember saying that, don’t know how to search for it. There are no nice racists. But this response tells me that I should never have put the what-do-you-want-from-Argh post up because I will screw this up. Yes, because of privilege.

      I apologize.

      1. So what if you do screw it up? You have commenters who come on here and call you out about it and then we all learn.
        I think we need to stop reacting in polarized ways. Instead of saying- well that’s it Jenny crossed a line so I can’t go on argh anymore- we need to learn or we need to educate. And we need to stay.
        Racism is systemic. We are all part of the system. The system has to rid itself of racism. All the ugliness has to be pulled out into the light.
        I ‘m not going anywhere Jenny because I know at your core you are not a racist and you are a good person.

      2. What???!!! This post has had some of the most interesting responses I’ve heard anywhere. I don’t agree with some (by people I generally identify with), so deeper reads and musings give me a chance to understand where they’re coming from. This is eye-opening for me.

        I’m a work-in-progress, even at 70. Once I accepted how uninformed I am about things (“Jane you ignorant slut” is my motto) it’s easier to get into difficult conversations. I have said and done TONS of stupid things. But the value of them is that I’ve learned from them and have come out as a more improved version of myself I think.

        This approach relies heavily on the tolerance of total strangers willing to talk. It’s key to have an open mind and heart and no ego going in I think. The ego thing is tough. To be honest? The Likes count matter to me, but it would help me if they were gone, at least at this level of discourse. Better to be a lone voice than a popular one, right?

        On second thought, since I’m advocating that people just ignore posts they can’t handle at a given moment (rather than squelch the post altogether) I should practice what I preach. I can train myself to ignore Likes. I kinda feel like Roseanne Rosannadanna (again with SNL!) here: never mind what I said above.

      3. Asking was the right move because it acknowledged a problem and asked a question.

        It’s just that we sometimes forget to listen in our urge to respond.

        One of my biggest privileges comes of being a fast-talking first-language English speaker. I know this and have to work very hard to speak slowly and clearly to people who have other home languages.

        I had to learn to listen actively.

        It took about two years from the moment of realisation to a point when I wasn’t defaulting to fast talking!

        I’ve had spontaneous positive feedback since then. The work was worth it.

      4. I think the post in question might be the Random Friday post from October 11, 2019???

        If so, I don’t think I interpreted your saying that someone has politically differing views as meaning that they are overtly racist or have said anything explicitly racist. Does having different political views now automatically mean one is overtly or explicitly racist? They might indeed be but it’s not what I thought you actually said.


        If this is indeed the statement in question, it’s interesting to see what different people take away from the same statement. I’d be willing to discuss this further, and to be “educated” on the topic by ST and SE. I mean, I already have certain feelings about people who voted for certain people. So I could see where someone might conclude that voting for someone means that the voter too is complicit (and espouses the same views). Is that the thought here?

        Of course, we’re talking here about overt or explicit racism. This is a different (although related) concept than the concept that everyone who benefits from the systemic racism in our society is, in effect, a racist. Thus, many or most of us are racists, whether or not we wanted to be or intended to be.

        Hmm, lots to unpack here. Still reading, still listening, still learning, still (hopefully) improving, still trying to figure out how best to help.

  41. I have a similar paralysis. I don’t know what to do to help. There is a lot of conflicting information out there and every action seems to have a downside. It’s nice to come here and see that so many people that I like and respect are in the same boat. What helps? Blacking out my instagram for a day seems silly, like the safety pin wearing a few years back. I think the phrase was token of virtue? The only real change that I can think of at the moment to effect is to change our leadership in November. I wish I was more confident that this would happen. As my aunt would say, “I despair. I really do.”

    No matter what happens here, I feel confident that we will be respectful of each other, which is such a relief. I usually avoid political comments on social media because humans are so nasty to each other.

    On a lighter note, and continuing a discussion from Good Book Thursday, Ilona Andrews collected the first installments of the Innkeeper Chronicles and priced them at $0.99 for the corona virus quarantine. I feel that these are excellent examples of Competence Porn, with a strong cast with unshakable moral cores, plus cute things and humor. They are a major comfort read for me, also short, and space/sci-fi goodness.

  42. It’s your blog. If you have something to say and you want to say it, say it. You can always make it a separate post and preface it with a “Warning: Political Discussion Ahead” for those Aarghers who would prefer to avoid politics. But considering you’ve managed to keep this a relatively troll free and safe space through the years, maybe this is a good way to help, by providing a safe space for people to ask constructive questions and discuss the issues and learn things and figure out how best to help and to make a difference. I know I’ve been interested in the comments people have already made here on the topic.

  43. Okay. I’m back. Jenny- To clarify, I liked your post. My problem was with your response to ST’s comments. Thank you for acknowledging the issue. One other thing– in your post you said, “what I think and do are irrelevant.” That is not true at all. Your voice matters to a lot of people, including me. These conversations are important on every platform because BIPOC face these issues every day. It doesn’t mean we can’t still talking about quilting.

    P.S.- ST- My comment about the neighbor was regarding an exchange I had with Jenny several weeks (months?– I’ve lost track of time) ago.

    P.P.S.- Jenny. I hope you’re feeling better after your root canal.

    1. No worries, SE.

      I do believe that what I think and do in this moment are irrelevant because it’s better for me to listen right now; my experiences have nothing to do with what’s happening, so it’s a good time to shut up.

      Also the root canal turned out to be extraction, implant, and bone graft, and that knocked me on my ass, so I am laying low in general because my alternative seems to be freaking out. When even Bob “Book Done Yet” Mayer says, “Take a break,” you know I’m over the edge.

      1. Ah. I understand now by “irrelevant”. Thank you. Uggh. So sorry about the extraction/implant/graft. My mom had to do something similar many years ago and I recall her agony. Sending you love and wishing you a speedy recovery.

  44. Hi, Late to the comments. I say talk about it when/if you feel like it. I’m sorry some of your readers are trying to second-guess your life. Maybe they are trying to be helpful. Whatever.

    Anyway, I would hope that most of the Argh Readers will offer good insight, and this will keep the blog the positive place it is. And if people want, they can always skip a post. When I saw posts on Leverage, I skipped them because I wasn’t watching and didn’t want spoilers if I did. But I came back for other things. We can all curate our experience here.

    And, if you decide it’s not something you have the energy for, or if it’s just making you feel worse, that’s fine too.

    Thank you for a great site.

    1. Oh, everybody’s been great. It’s just been the Week From Hell (for everybody) and I’ve got Krissie and Bob saying, “Take a break” because I’m tense about other stuff going on here. So I’ve been taking a break (g).

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