I'm skipping a meeting today.
I'm skipping a meeting today, not because I'm tired and didn't sleep well, or because I have a conflict, or because I have a migraine, or because I have other work to do, or because I woke up late, or because I'm suffering bad cramps, or because I'm annoyed, or because it will be boring...some of those things are also true, but they are not factors in my reasoning today.
I'm skipping a meeting today because I'm sick of being in spaces where I'm simply tolerated but not accepted, greeted but not welcome.
I'm skipping a meeting today because there are few safe spaces in the world, and this meeting, for me, no longer is. It was always kind of on the fence, but events over the past month (since the last meeting) have shown me that this meeting, for me, is definitively not safe.
I'm skipping a meeting today, not because everyone involved is perpetuating harm, but because some of them are, and enough people are that it's a systemic problem rather than something smaller.
I'm skipping a meeting today because "politeness" and "proper channels" and "holding up a mirror" and "having patience" and "just talking to so-and-so" have done absolutely nothing in the past 2.5 years to reverse or even slow the harm. And why would they? These things were red herrings, carrots on a string, just another method of silencing, all along.
I'm skipping a meeting today because what are they going to do, what further punishment will they come up with for me? Kick me out of the group? They never fully accepted me into the group in the first place. Some people did, perhaps most people, but not all of them, not the combined entity of them. Talk about me behind my back, try to paint me in awful light to smear my character? That has already happened too, so what is once or twice or a dozen times more?
I'm skipping a meeting today because I never asked to be in the meeting. Someone else had the idea and talked to others first and then invited me to one of these meetings. Someone who is not me had the idea to solicit and extend a standing invitation for me to regularly attend. I did not have to fight to be in this meeting; I did not even ask for it. I welcomed the invitation and the opportunity, and there were many times when this meeting was a safe space for me, or at least as safe a space as I could find at the time. But that reality has changed, or more likely, never really was reality. I was told I was welcome, but I am not.
I'm skipping a meeting today because I am an agenda item, a problem to be solved, but recent history has shown me that my voice will not be heard; space will not be given to actually solving the problem of me, only in making me a less squeaky wheel. I am skipping this meeting because although I am an agenda item, I (the agenda item) was not prefaced well, was presented without internal context or support, was put forth as an agenda item only and not a person.
I'm skipping a meeting today because this system has failed, and I'm over it. I, we, some of us, have tried to nudge the system towards progress, but the system has dug its heels into the sticky mud and is trying to drown me in it. So I will find a new system, even if I have to build it myself, and I won't be the only one. And there will be meetings wherein people do not literally ask each other how to "bring in" people who they describe as just like me, while they simultaneously ignore the fact that I am there and that I am a person like me and that I have been providing suggestions and begging for space all along, while they literally talk over me and cut me off and show me that I am unwelcome despite what earlier words may have said.
I'm skipping a meeting today as an act of protest. I am not slinking away, I am not hiding. Here I am. Here I am, skipping the meeting, not because it is good but I have something better, but because it is not good. I am skipping the meeting, fist in the air, conference table overturned, agenda item not fully addressed because I am an actual person not an agenda item, agenda item resolved on your end but I reject the notion of being reduced to a simple agenda item in the first place. My absence is my picket line, my "no" RSVP is my protest sign, this writing is my speech and chant, your responsive silence is yours.
I'm skipping a meeting today because I will not let my very presence seal my complicity in my own exclusion, silencing, abuse, or oppression.
I'm skipping a meeting today because you have already rejected me, and thankfully I am no longer so brainwashed that I will beg for an abuser to continue the abuse cycle.
I'm skipping a meeting today, but there won't be an empty chair waiting for me. There never was.
Here is it, y'all: love changes things 8/7/20
Good Friday in the Midst of a Pandemic 4/10/20
Wrestling with Faithfulness and Transformation (a sermon) 10/21/19
Healing of the Outcasts (a sermon) 10/18/19
Reckon-ciliation (a poem) 7/19/19
The Road to Recovery 6/26/19
Perpetuating Sins of the Church 8/16/18
It's Tuesday and I'm Overwhelmed 5/8/18
Music is a Language 5/3/18
Skipping a Meeting 4/10/18
Spark (a poem) 4/5/18
A New Old Song for Holy Saturday 3/31/18
Good Friday? 3/30/18
Who are the Leaders in Your Church? 1/2/18