The devil is in the details

Dear President Biden,

I think you know by now that I’m pretty conscientious about providing links to the material I pull in from the media or from other online sources. Well, unfortunately I can’t do that for you today. You see, I came across a problematic article the other day about white paint somewhere – I think it was actually the WP – and now I can’t find it. I searched for maybe half an hour last night and either I made the thing up (unlikely) or it got scrubbed (much more likely).  

Nearly the entire interior of our house is painted with a color called “Fresh Cotton” so I’m often curious to see what people are saying about white-ish paint. The article purported to be a definitive take on what to do and what not to do around white interiors and some of what it had to say made sense to me (i.e., stark, “pure” white tends to make most people look awful and the place look cheap – check, check). However, the article also said that one wants to make sure there’s some “flesh tone” mixed in with the white base – the “flesh” part was not set off with quotes in the article and it was pretty damn clear that the author, pictured as a blonde White woman, meant the pinky-White flesh of White people like her, except there was no apparent awareness of this. In the article “flesh tone” was treated as a singular thing and the default was clearly to White.

When I read it, I realized immediately how problematic it was and actually stopped reading the article at that point and moved away from it like it was poison, because it was. Now, though, I’m feeling bad that I didn’t slow down to see if there was a comment section where I could have checked to make sure others were pointing out the inherent racist bias of this word choice. I’m also feeling frustrated with myself that I didn’t record the url and/or some of the article content so that I could show you the racist crap that’s still turning up in the most mundane-seeming spots. Given that I couldn’t find it, having the url wouldn’t probably help all that much since it would likely be a dead link, but at least I’d know for sure that it had been taken down.

On its own it’s a small-ish thing and if it was taken down, it’s almost certainly because readers called out the inherent racism and that would be a good, if small-ish thing. But if I’m right and the WP published the article in the first place, that’s not good at all.

Since I’m on this sort of roll, I’ll just tag in another small-ish not good thing that I realized last weekend. Laura was driving and I was in the front passenger seat of our Ford C-max and I went to hold the grip the handhold thing at the top of the window for a position change. Well, with my hand holding the grip, my elbow dangled several inches above the ledge at the bottom of the window, unable to reach for a comfortable perch. It was annoying as all get out. I may not still be quite 5’7”, but I’ve got extra long arms and if a long-armed woman’s arm can’t reach from the hand grip to the ledge rest then it’s pretty clear women’s bodies were not fully (at all?) considered in the design of this car.

The devil is in the details….

May we be safe and considered.
May we be willing to do the needed perspective taking.
May we realize that it strengthens us all when everyone’s needs are met.
May we accept that we need to move on from old paradigms.

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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