All posts by Karah Hawkinson

About Karah Hawkinson

Karah Hawkinson is a wife, mother, and professional historian from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her passion is advocating on behalf of the world's hungry. She uses blogging, publications, and social media to help average Christians make informed decisions that have a positive, lasting impact on the world's hungry. Follow her blog at www.foodshelffriday.com

I Can’t Breathe

Quarantine, Day 74
Minneapolis Riots, Day 3

I appreciate/understand that I’m blessed. My husband, son, and I are all healthy and safe at home. My husband and I continue to work (from home) and get paid. We’d really like to get back to the gym and church, but we’re safe, healthy, and our needs are met. Not everyone is that fortunate right now.

Likewise, we live in undeserved privilege because we were born white. I can wear a dark hoodie in public, or a face mask, and no one looks at me like I might be there to rob them. My son can go for a run after dark and not fear that he’ll be shot or arrested because he might be running from a crime scene. If I get pulled over for something like speeding or expired license tabs, I don’t worry that one wrong twitch will get me shot.

I can’t even begin to pretend that I understand what it’s like to be a person of color in America. They face challenges I will never experience. They are judged and threatened even just going about their law-abiding day-to-day lives.

When I was a child, I went about my life thinking that racism was mostly a southern thing, and that the overt kind of racism was limited to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, white trash “Bubbas,” and ignorant old people. I grew up in white small towns in the middle of nowhere, and I believed that Martin Luther King fixed things.

Even after I grew up, moved to the city, and got educated – though I learned that racism and slavery were alive and well – I still didn’t think it happened here. We’re “Minnesota nice,” right? I got to know some people of color. We went to church together, raised our kids together, and worked together. I gave very little thought to the color of their skin.

Then police shootings started to make headlines. I took my usual stance of “calm down,” “hear the whole story,” and “think before you act.” That’s kind of who I am. There are two sides to everything, and I hate when people freak out and make a situation worse because of their inflammatory behavior (something a lot of people need to consider before they hit that share button on Facebook…). But have I extended that same courtesy to the accused? We’re innocent until proven guilty in America. Yet I’ve been quick to jump to the defense of police, but not the accused. That’s evidence of my inherent white privilege bias – the “whole story” is a principle that needs to be evenly applied.

The dawning of my racial awareness has been slow…

Yesterday I woke up and MY city was on fire.

  • I can’t tell myself that racism doesn’t happen here, because it does. It did. It costs innocent people their security and their lives.
  • Being a cop is a hard, thankless job, and they deserve our support, but so is being a person of color in America. They deserve the benefit of the doubt, a chance to tell their stories, and our support as they go about their lives trying to do the right thing and take care of their own.
  • Yes, there are criminals out there – lots of them. Yes, they deserve to be prosecuted and punished. But the law, and the benefit of the doubt need to be evenly applied. And there are bad cops out there, too. They deserve to be prosecuted and punished, too.
  • I wish good and bad were fixed, concrete ideas, and that good always won and bad was always defeated. But the simple truth is that sometimes everyone is right AND everyone is wrong. I understand the anger and the protests. I don’t understand the looting and burning. This is our city, our home. Rioting vents frustration and sends a message that the world can’t ignore, but it also advances stereotypes of violence and untrustworthiness. It damages the businesses we depend on and widens the gaps between people.

I want to DO something, but I don’t know what to do. God knows I have a lot to learn, and that I don’t have solutions. I just want to serve my neighbors who are wronged. I want to support justice. I want to pull out the roots of my own biases. But I also kind of want to hide. I don’t have answers, or the right to speak for others. But just worrying about my own attitudes and behaviors doesn’t feel like enough when my city is burning.

I’m frustrated. Heartbroken. Angry. So I pray. I examine myself. I talk to others who want change without violence. I pray some more. I try to educate myself so I can do better and be better in the future.

I can’t bury my head in the sand any longer. It’s too hard to breathe like that.

Embracing New Traditions

Every year, my family and I have Taco Bell on Mothers Day.

It’s been our thing for sixteen years now, ever since my husband played soccer and we had to cram Taco Bell between church and games as he left me to chase a toddler around the field all day (A *very relaxing* way to spend Mothers Day, said no mom ever). To this day, even if we go for a nice brunch with Scott’s parents, or visit my parents over the weekend, we always work in some Taco Bell.

It’s not a bitter or sarcastic thing. I like Taco Bell well enough, and it’s become a reminder to me that traditions don’t have to be elaborate or stuffy, and that I’m glad my son isn’t three anymore. (All the parents said amen!)

I hope you all had a good Mothers Day, whatever your situation.
I hope you get to establish new traditions and reevaluate the things you’ll spend time on when the pandemic eases.
I hope you’ll get to go back to all the things you love and miss, and that you can let go of the things you only do out of obligation.

Take care of yourselves, mamas (and everyone else!). Remember, this too shall pass, and someday the new traditions started in quarantine can serve as reminders of this time – either as a fond look back or a benchmark to celebrate not being here anymore!

Overedited

During this quarantine season, many people are learning new skills. For me, this means Photoshop (among other things). I have my days when learning this complex new way to doing things seems overwhelming. I get frustrated with how long it takes me to do things I used to do much faster with simpler editing tools. But Photoshop and the other programs in the Adobe Creative family allow me to do so much more, so learning it is a worthwhile endeavor.

Last night my son and I sat down, and he walked me through using Lightroom to correct old photos. We took a scan of a damaged picture from the history museum where I work, and made some improvements to it. I’m not real nuanced yet, but the results were still pretty good.

At one point Jacob asked me why a history museum would want to correct old photos. This is a good question. As a museum, we’re dedicated to collecting and preserving the past, not repackaging it. An edited photo is no longer an artifact of the past. Jacob likened it to taking a recording of a classic singer and running it through auto-tune – it might be “perfected” but is it still the same voice? And at what point does it get so distorted that it no longer resembles the original?

This got me thinking about the modern world we live in and how hard we work to filter our reality and put out a perfected image of ourselves. At what point are we no longer authentic? When do we become so “perfected” that we lose our appeal to others?

We were not made to be perfect. We were not made to have it all together. We’re not even meant to be “enough.” We were made to live our lives in total reliance on God. Be like the Velveteen Rabbit – when he became worn from love, that’s when he became real. Don’t let yourself get so overedited that you’re unrecognizable and unrelatable. Be authentically you, striving to be the best AND most real version of yourself. Lean into God, and trust that He has made you who you are because you have something of value to offer the world.

Ephesians 2:10: For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Be you – Do good

Moments

True confession time: I don’t like Christmas. I know that’s probably an unpopular thing to say, and it’s a strange thing to bring up in the middle of April, but stick with me for a minute. I’m not totally Scrooge; I get the magic of the season. I just get so overwhelmed with all the busyness, the pressure of expectations, and the expenses that I’m ready to throw the baby out with the bathwater, as the saying goes.

A few years ago, my wise husband suggested that I change my perspective, and start looking for moments of joy in all the chaos. I think of them as “moments of Christmas,” and it’s made a world of difference for me. I find moments of Christmas when the congregation sings the traditional carols, when the candles are lit on Christmas Eve, and when I see little girls twirling in their Christmas dresses. I find moments sitting quietly beside my lit Christmas tree, and when I put up my beloved nativity set.

This Covid-19 quarantine period is the same way. It’s easy to get stressed out and overwhelmed by the statistics, the sickness, the chaos of distance learning, and the economic devastation. Those things are very real and have to be considered, but I want to encourage you to not lose your mind over them. Though it may not feel natural, I want you to look for moments of joy in the chaos, and find things you can be thankful for.

  • My son came home from college early, and I get to hear him play cello again.
  • I get to wear PJs. A Lot.
  • My family has been holding weekly Zoom meetings from our homes across the country, and we’ve started playing games together.
  • Our dog is loving all the cuddles, walks, and attention.
  • The sun is shining, and we pulled our ’97 Mustang project-toy out of storage (and had time to replace the headlights).
  • People are covering their windows with hearts, and kids are out coloring the walk with chalk drawings.
  • We rediscovered an old online game we used to play when Jacob was little – when it was hard to get a sitter and go out – and we started playing together again.
  • We have time to watch movies, clean out closets, read books, and play board games.

I’ve been snapping pictures of the small moments. Some day when quarantine is just a memory, I’ll have my pictures of dinners, Zoom meetings, and heart windows to remember that this time wasn’t a total loss. Hopefully it will remind me that we found a way to hold church (and even take communion on Good Friday), that neighbors stepped up for one another, and that we learned to appreciate the essential occupations like cashiers and trash collectors who often get taken for granted. I hope you too can find moments of joy in spite of the chaos!

Documentary Film Review: Minimalism

It’s hard to know what to write about right now. With the ongoing Coronavirus lockdown and subsequent humanitarian and economical crises, I just don’t know what the world is going to look like when this ends. That’s why I decided to sit down and watch the documentary called Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things.

I’m not a minimalist. I mean, I try not to have too much “stuff,” and I find tiny houses fascinating, but I like the warmth and color that accessories bring into my life. I live in an environment of weather extremes, so we pretty much need two wardrobes and a few waterproof things for the in-between. I thought that if nothing else, I would enjoy the calm of a documentary about minimalism, and maybe get a few good tips for how I can get rid of more stuff.

The movie surprised me. I mean, how complicated can a movie about minimalism be? It’s minimalism… But it was really quite warm and relaxed. The main focus of the film is a duo that calls themselves The Minimalists (Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn). They are a pair of lifelong best friends who went from striving and unsatisfied to minimalists, and it changed their life for the better. They wrote a book about it called Everything That Remains, and in the film they’re on tour, one suitcase each in an old car, promoting their book.

Along the way, the film crew interviews other self-proclaimed minimalists, and they talk about things like the challenges of a minimalist lifestyle with children, the calming effects of meditation, tiny houses, and the effects of advertising on children.

Some of the people featured in the documentary are more strict adherents to the philosophy of minimalism, while others just lead a simplified version of what most of us consider normal. One of the guys described minimalism as a continuum, and explained that we all fall somewhere on that spectrum and have to find balance and compromise with the people we live with.

That balance was a refreshing change from the “slash and burn” way I’ve heard minimalists speak in the past. They also said that if something makes you happy, don’t get rid of it. Surround yourself with things you love – just get rid of the excessive rest of it, and don’t get caught up in striving for more stuff because you think it will make you happy. Stuff won’t make you happy.

Aside from not being fulfilling, the quest for more stuff drives humanitarian and environmental disasters. Our “need” for the latest and greatest leads manufacturers to cut costs, outsourcing jobs to countries that don’t have labor standards and creating unsafe work environments for people – including young children – who aren’t paid a viable wage. Making fewer and more deliberate choices in our consumption allows us to do more good with our spending rather than making more waste.

Minimalism is just over an hour long, and it available on Netflix. It was made in 2016 by director Matt D’Avella.

While I’m not about to get a dumpster and toss out all my stuff (that just feels wasteful…), the movie did inspire me to reconsider my shopping habits and the things I strive for. Plus, I just really enjoyed a relaxed hour of clean and organized spaces…