Being Rainbow in a Black & White World
It's either a gift, maturity, age, or whatever mojo is earned, when we finally understand that very little in life is black and white. Knowing cut and dry matters are a rarity in our wonderfully messy lives is a critical lens for what we both create and consume. However, in an era of clickbait titles, and “the most pinnable images,” content is created to go viral. There is seemingly minimal devotion towards substance, further contributing to an illusion of a world that is black and white, or one consisting of polarized truths.
In modern media and online sharing, many also believe they have to be an Authority. And being an Authority definitely means knowing. At least that is what marketers will telling you in 6 Easy Steps to Monetizing What You Love. And through an Authority lens, truths are further reduced into a black and white ideology. An Authority doesn't talk about messy or gray areas. They talks steps, actions, and other prescriptive directives.
I believe knowing what you don’t know is one of the most fabulous rights of wisdom. And knowing circumstance, culture, and history are a prism on every single aspect of life from words, to behavior, to aesthetic, is essential in any work we create from art, to design, to the written word.
So how does a Prismatic Prophet exist, in a distinctly black and white world?
In my recent post, Superhighway Pileup, I touch on the transformation of the interwebs, and current state of affairs in the blogosphere. There was a headline that pushed me over the edge, and revved up my writing muse for the post. The headline that turned my dusty Google document draft into the final post this past Monday afternoon was: “Are Placentas, Penises, & Platelets The Future of Beauty?”
I am not even shitting you. It is a real title. On an extremely popular women’s website.
A major achilles heel in my “live and let live” attempt towards zen living is wildly tested by sites that are screaming female empowerment and declaring war on misogyny, while considering the future of penises for commercialized beauty. A fiction writer could not dream up something more dystopian.
And once the Superhighway Pileup post went live, and comments came in, a particular one had my writing muse fluttering for a second time that day. Michelle's comment that got my brain humming was: “...it’s not always a(s) black and white as some writings claim it to be.”
It made me think of a draft I have been noodling: “How to be Tolerant of Intolerance?” In the essay draft, I was fighting to keep political burrs out of the narrative, but the darn things kept dancing too close to the surface wanting to be known. However, Michelle’s comment struck the inspiration well I was wrestling to tap, and gave creative sustenance on a day the news was leaving my soul eviscerated.
So in tweaking my draft towards thinking how can a Prismatic Prophet exist in a distinctly black and white world, I took time contemplating not only my personal experiences on my Unicorn Thunder path, but also those as a mother advocating for her daughter’s prismatic fabulosity. It brought to mind the single moment, where there was an attempt to desaturate Ruby Joy's rainbow, and file her into a black and white construct.
In getting ready for Kindergarten, my daughter chose a Clone Wars backpack and a Star Wars lunchbox. She never saw the shows, but as we personally keep our local library in business, she devoured the graphic novels by this age. So as we stood in the Target aisle chock full of princesses, cupcakes, and mermaid backpacks, I had to straight up let her know I thought she made the righteous choice, but a knucklehead would tell her it’s a boy’s backpack and try to dim her happy. She acknowledged the unavoidable, but wanted to stick with her passion.
We subsequently set up Clone Wars Fridays to help her get up to speed before the school year, and she was both feet firmly on her nerd track leading to the manga consuming young lady she is today.
Now, when Ruby Joy started Kindergarten, she sneezed rainbows and glitter, and had one of the most optimistic souls I've ever encountered. As a result, my Mama Bear Radar was always dialed up to detect those who saw such beauty as bait. One day on the playground after school, as expected, a knucklehead fifth grade girl built of pure misery, got up in Ruby Joy’s grill and gave her the side eye asking if “that was actually her backpack.” The amount of disdain and unhappiness leaking from the inquisitor's eyes was heartbreaking, but my heart broke more for my daughter. And what the bloody hell was it a fifth grader’s concern with what a kindergartner was rocking in backpack apparel?! Anyway, I stepped in and Mama Beared the situation declaring not only it was indeed her’s, but how absolutely cool it was.
This anecdote made me think on how we all struggle in our colorful fabulosity from such a young age. For goodness sake, I am a pixie sized woman who went the route of starting my career as a car designer, and you should have seen me driving a sixteen wheeler on the test track not all that long ago. I get fluttering full-on glitter in the polarized constructs of black and white.
I think the reason why I’ve also held on to Ruby Joy's first incident is because I distinctly remember being with my mom in the checkout line at Farmer Jack's at four years of age, anticipating the sucker I would get when we paid, while rocking my cousin David’s jeans, and feeling cool as hell. See, David was the only person in my large family universe that shared my stringbean-ness, so I just thought it was awesome to be able to share that with him while wearing sweet denim. I was even wearing the matching denim vest for goodness sake. Total fashion badass.
Anyway, a woman came over, grinning ear to ear, and commented to my mom on what a cute son she had. It hit me in the gut, while taking a considerable amount of wind out of my sails. An instant realization that the woman was both presumptuous and narrow minded (proving my hutzpah started pretty flipping young). I wasn't bummed she mistook me for a boy, and I didn't think my outfit was any less cool, I was just really bummed about her visual queues as to what defines boy and girl.
Even at that young of an age, it was clear to me that our society is so literal and reductive. And it is shockingly just as much so today:
Boy or girl
Princess or Prince
Athletic or Smart
Nerdy or Popular
Fashionable or Practical
Religious or Agnostic
Right or Wrong
Masculine or Feminine
Conservative or Liberal
Spiritual or Atheist
Young or Old
Yet in this list, none of the prescriptives are finite, permanent, or absolute.
So in a world, culture, and interwebs of black and white, how do you let your prism reflect, or find a space where it can?
How do you pick your rainbow moments?
What are your biggest challenges in the Economy of Cut and Dry?
How do you operated in full color, in a world that reads just black and white?