Apologies and Other Things

Let me start by saying writing every day seems to be bringing more people to the site, it also doesn’t hurt that I wrote about Black Panther a few times, so I plan to keep writing every day for as long as I can once Lent is over. If you’re a newcomer to the site, welcome! I hope you enjoy it, or learn something from it, and keep coming back!

In other news: I read a heartfelt, genuine apology post today. In this post, the apologizer mentioned being criticized for neglecting to mention Afrofuturism in a post about Indigenous Futurism. Initially, in her words, she rattled off a half-hearted “sorry I offended you” type comment. Then, she wrote a post “apologizing” in which she, again in her words, centered herself. Then she edited this self-centered post.

She realized the error of her ways and finally posted a real apology today. Full disclosure: of the three posts I just mentioned, I only read the true apology. Here’s my issue with this situation and every time someone does this. In the time it took this woman to write a post where she only considered herself and edit it, she could have been reflecting on the criticism she received.

I’ve noticed that people who get very defensive when they receive constructive criticism usually do so because they haven’t been criticized often. Therefore, when they are criticized, they have no idea how to react. I, on the other hand, have been criticized countless times. I’m a Black woman in America, people can’t sleep at night for criticizing me and other Black women. Because I have so much practice, it’s easy for me to examine the criticism I receive, determine if it’s valid or just someone lashing out because she/he feels I’ve threatened her/his position of privilege, and respond accordingly, whether that’s changing my behavior or clapping back.

In these situations, where you offend someone by coming from a place of privilege, it’s always best to be slow to speak and quick to listen.

This poster’s final apology seemed genuine and she seems to have learned her lesson. Hopefully, she won’t be making this mistake again anytime soon.

Later in the day, I listened to “The Boom Boom Room” episode of the Ear Hustle podcast. This podcast is produced by and features men incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison. It’s fascinating, you won’t be disappointed if you find the time to listen to it. This particular episode is about family visits, what us laypeople refer to as “conjugal visits.” These visits take place in small cottages on the prison’s grounds.

As I listened to the episode, I was struck by how meaningful every aspect of being in the cottage was to these men. One man told his wife to bring colored sheets because the sheets in his cell are white and he was tired of looking at white sheets. He also asked her to bring a nice, fluffy pillow. Another man talked about the joy of opening the refrigerator in the cottage, pulling out an ice tray and cracking it to separate the ice from the tray.

I listened to these men speak and realized all of the things I take for granted. Like how comfortable my bed is right after I wash my gray sheets. And how comfortable my pillows are because I’ve had them for years and never wash them. (What?! It misshapes them! I worked too hard to break my pillows in to wash them.) I no longer use ice trays because I have an ice maker I can turn on and off at my will.

“The Boom Boom Room” also made me think about intimacy. Every moment these men have with their wives is precious to them. Every touch, every kiss carries more weight because it will be three to five months, at a minimum, until this family’s next family visit.

I thought about how Monday’s bad night turned into a good one. I thought about how good it felt to spend time with someone who didn’t feel the need to hold himself away from me. That is the greatest intimacy I know. I read that undivided attention is the best aphrodisiac. Truer words were never spoken, especially in this day and age where our phones are always ringing, dinging or buzzing and we receive a never-ending stream of emails.

I thought about how seen it made me feel to have someone take his time with me. To have him put my needs before his own. To have him focus on only me. I thought about what a beautiful experience that was and how I can’t wait to experience that feeling again, the feeling of being completely seen and having the seer like what he sees.

Brené Brown says the only way to true intimacy is to gradually increase how vulnerable you are with another person. I wholeheartedly believe this. The thing is both people have to be vulnerable or you’re never going to get to real intimacy. If only one person is being vulnerable, eventually, that person will no longer feel safe with the person who’s not exposing herself/himself.

I hope all of you have someone you can be vulnerable with who won’t use it against you. Because that’s the hard part: you can open up to anyone, but it’s only once you’ve found someone who will support and uplift you in your vulnerable moments that you’ll be able to have a solid relationship fortified by authentic intimacy.

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