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In the pause: Things I am tired of

On the University of Virginia Alumni LinkedIn discussion group I was told by multiple members that they felt my sharing of an article about Howard Schultz’s letter to his employees in the wake of the immigration executive order was inappropriate because it’s partisan. If an open university discussion group isn’t the right place to discuss business and societal issues that impact our country, I’m not sure what would be the right place. The University of Virginia was founded by Thomas Jefferson who, among many other accomplishments, was one of the main authors of the Declaration of Independence. He was a great believer in and promoter of open debate and discourse.

I don’t mind people disagreeing with Howard Schultz and having reasoned arguments about their point-of-view. I mind being told that a business story that has a human element isn’t something worth sharing or discussing with alumni of a university I attended. By comparison, I shared this same post in the University of Pennsylvania alumni group and didn’t get a single comment like the ones I received from the University of Virginia alumni group. On the Darden alumni group, there was a single comment from an alum who said he was glad the immigration order was put in place because he doesn’t want to have to worry about Muslims shooting up his shopping mall. Ignorance is difficult to reason with.

Friends, I’m tired. Tired of explaining that discrimination of many varieties including prejudice based on religion, race, gender, and sexual orientation is alive and well in America. (Many of he UVA alums who commented on my post went on to say that they don’t think discrimination exists in the U.S.) I’m tired of hearing that we should embrace a leader who exemplifies every characteristic that a leader shouldn’t have. I’m tired of the constant justification of behavior that isn’t just.

I keep looking to our civil rights leaders of the past and present, and I marvel at their strength and perseverance in the face of hate. I wanted you to know that I appreciate so many of you sharing your stories of what’s happening to you and people whom you know. I admire your fighting spirits. You raise me up.

Certainly, I have been the target of prejudice in the form of sexism in both the workplace and in society. I try very hard to put on my armor and not let it get me down so that I can keep doing the work I know I’m meant to do. But some days, the load is heavier to carry than others and today is just one of those days. I’m disappointed in these UVA alums who felt compelled to send me these kinds of messages, and I’m also angry that I let them get to me so much.

I’ll feel better in a little while. I’ll pick up the mantle again and keep fighting for the rights of all people. I hope you will, too. And when you get down, please reach out. The only way we’re going to slog through this is to slog through it together.

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About Christa Avampato

I make a living in business and I make a life as a writer, artist, and yogi. I use my business and storytelling skills to build a better world. My first novel, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters, will be published in the Fall of 2017 by Thumbkin Prints, a children's and YA imprint of Possibilities Publishing Co. My creative career has stretched across Capitol Hill, Broadway theatre, education, nonprofit fundraising, health and wellness, and Fortune 500 companies in retail, media, and financial services. In every experience, I have used my sense of and respect for elegant design to develop meaningful products, services, program, and events to help people live happier, healthier lives. A recovering multi-tasker, I am a proud alum of UPenn (BA) and the Darden School at UVA (MBA). When not in front of my Mac, I’m on my yoga mat, walking my rescue dog, Phineas, traveling with a purpose, or practicing the high-art of people watching. I am proud to New York City my home, and I've been called the happiest New Yorker by friends and strangers alike. They're right. Follow my adventures on Twitter at https://twitter.com/christanyc and Instagram at https://instagram.com/christarosenyc.

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To be a writer is to first be a listener and observer. I often go somewhere—a coffeeshop, a museum, a store—and just tune into the conversations of others. I don’t take out my phone or notebook. I don’t have any purpose other than to listen to what people say, how they say it, and then how people respond to them.

I tried this experiment recently at the @metmuseum. I went to their Astor Chinese Garden Court and sat there for a while as people wandered in and out. It’s a bright and peaceful place in the museum. Good for clearing the mind and opening up the ears.

It was fascinating to see such a diverse set of people come into the space and have a similar experience, of peace and contentment and happiness. It reminded me how hurried and cluttered our lives can become. And it made me more conscious of the power of places that give us time to just be. The expression of “wow” on everyone’s face when they entered the garden made me smile.

As we edge toward 2018 and the cold weather takes us indoors for a few months, I’m looking forward to more of these listening and observing activities. We have so much to learn from each other.

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