Powder Puff Columbus Day

For me, intersections are about the nuance of living in the uncertain spaces in between multiple truths that can feel conflictual. I went to a high school “Powder Puff” game yesterday. It was quite the experience. The Senior boys were fantastic, shirtless with hand prints like war paint on their chests, and spandex shorts with “seniors” written in sparkles across their behinds. It was a complicated and well-executed blend of gender expectations. The girls played flag football and were quite dedicated and athletic. The mom behind me would get up and shout “run” when her daughter would go for a touchdown. (Her daughter scored most of the touchdowns– she was fast!) And my inner watchdog kept asking uncomfortable questions like “why is it only once a year that the boys cheer for the girls?” and “would this be as popular if we didn’t still believe that men and women have certain roles and sports they should be playing?”. But I still posted pictures of my kid in his cheer costume and I still had a great time. And those uncomfortable questions are still bouncing around my brain.

Yesterday was also Columbus Day. Or Celebrate Imperialism Day. Or Celebrate Pluralistic Nation Day. I’ll let you pick. We don’t celebrate it at my place of work because of our commitment to inclusion as an organization. In some ways, though, I feel like a hypocrite. Because I like where I live. I know the tragedy of Chief Niwot and it horrifies me. I feel awful. But I haven’t abandoned my house to go live somewhere not stolen. And the uncomfortable questions keep coming, like “can we ever make this right?” and “what is my responsibility for action here?”. When I was 16, my German host father talked about being responsible for what Hitler did. In my very black and white way, I rejected that concept. How was he responsible for another person’s actions? He didn’t serve in the military — he was a child at the time. In some ways, it was nationalism, which was sort of the problem in the first place. And yet, as a German, he felt he carried a spiritual burden for his country. An irredeemable debt. I wasn’t into it at 16, but now I understand something of what he was saying. I live in benefit from the actions that were done to turn this country into what it is today. And as long as I reap that benefit, I carry some of the burden of what was done to make it this way.