More Than Serving Tea


Urban Outfitters, Why? WHY???

The whole “hipster” thing is a bit fascinating and strange because new things made to look like old things are made to be cool and hip…and expensive. Which is odd to me because my old things rarely were expensive, and rarely were they cool. But now “vintage” is cool if its new, and you’re making a statement.

But what kind of statement are you making when you buy something like this:

According to the company website, Urban Outfitters offers "a lifestyle-specific shopping experience for the educated, urban-minded individual in the 18 to 30 year-old range". Why does an 18-year-old need these? Why does anyone need these?

According to the company website, Urban Outfitters offers “a lifestyle-specific shopping experience for the educated, urban-minded individual in the 18 to 30 year-old range”. Why does an 18-year-old need these? Why does anyone need these?

Better yet, what kind of brand statement are you trying to make when you sell stuff like this?

Last night I spent a few delightful hours with a few delightful women talking about  how this world is going to hell. Girls dressing like prostitutes. Grown women dressing like little girls. Pastors referring to their spouses as their “smokin’ hot wives” and honestly believing that is a compliment. (It really, really isn’t.) Some of those same pastors refusing to be taught by women because their God-given femininity gets in the way but books written by women are generally OK because the woman isn’t in the room.

And that rant actually has something to do with this ridiculous stuff Urban Outfitters is selling.

Bratz dolls. Baby doll dresses on grown women. White evangelical pastors talking about their “smokin’ hot wives”. John Piper and his stance on learning from women. None of it is OK. I am so tired of trying to keep a sense of humor in a world that has lost its marbles. I know there is at least a few others tired and outraged because a dear friend let me know about syringe shot shooters through another blog post.

Seriously. When did selling hipster drug paraphernalia become OK? This isn’t a Domo toaster (which I saw on the UA website and thought, “That would make breakfast awesome!”). This along with a few other items on the website make prescription drug abuse a tongue-in-cheek gag, and that is so wrong. The target audience might officially be 18-30 year olds, but as a mother of two teenagers I’m not stupid, even if UA thinks I am. The actual audience is younger. And even with parents hovering over them like helicopters they are soaking up images, messages, values, ideas faster than we can protect them because the grown-ups who care can’t keep up with this stuff, and the grown ups who don’t care will sell it to you.

Real drugs or hipster versions.

I am so tired of this kind of garbage. Are you? Please tell me some of you are.

E-mail the CEO and chairman of Urban Outfitters, Richard A. Hayne:
richard.hayne@urbanout.com

Or keep the US Postal Service busy and send snail mail to the company:
Urban Outfitters Inc.
5000 South Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA 19112-1495

Do you tweet? How about connecting @UrbanOutfitters

Or comment on Facebook.

E-mail Oona McCullough, their Director of Investor Relations at oona.mccullough@urbanout.com

No plans right now? How about emailing the board of directors and other important people who care about profits.

And by the way, the same company owns Anthropologie and Free People.

My parents still tell me that here in America the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Here in America, corporate America pays attention to the bottom line and they now also have to manage their social media presence. We have a voice…it gets louder when others join us.

(Credit goes to My Life as 3D for blogging about this first.)


Pickled Herring & Breakfast For Dinner

No, I am not making this up. This is why one step at a time I am learning to love my church.

Last night was our annual Family Advent Night – a fun night of gathering together to do a family craft and eat breakfast for dinner. My kids have learned to love having breakfast for dinner. Seriously, who wouldn’t love being offered the choice of plain or CHOCOLATE CHIP pancakes for dinner?

So having breakfast for dinner was one of those cross-cultural experiences that happened over time – trips to IHOP or Denny’s late at night/early in the morning after some dancing at Medusa’s during my high school years, trips to Omega late at night/early in the morning after studying or formal in college. But that wasn’t really eating breakfast for dinner. It was having second breakfast. But, it was a primer for this Korean-American girl who would eat rice and kimchi jigae for breakfast, lunch and dinner if she could.

In addition to breakfast for dinner was a special delivery for M – his jar of pickled herring that I’m going to guess he bought at our church’s summer missions silent auction. M sat down and with the same look on his face that I have when I’m sitting down to a meal I know I am going to enjoy, he opened his jar of herring. For background sake, I attend an Evangelical Covenant Church – a denomination with deep Swedish roots. No, not “Hey, I like Ikea” Swedish (I love those meatballs) but Swedish. And maybe, for some at my  church, so much so that they don’t know how Sweden and its values and traditions have been integrated into church and life until someone like me shows up and wonders what the deal is with pickled herring and hymns sung in Swedish and Advent candles in blue (is that Swedish?) and coffee at night and respectfully restrained worship.

Back to the herring.

Truth be told, I’ve heard of pickled herring but until last night I had never actually seen it. And while I’ve known folks who have offered me arroz con pollo, pan tres leches, collard greens, lumpia, pho and chicken feet there are other foods, like pickled herring, I’ve never had the opportunity to see or taste.

Which is why I am so grateful that M offered me a taste of his pickled herring because food, and the food of my people and of your people, is such a part of we are, and how we live, etc. Food can tell the stories of why our ancestors ate what we eat, values, land, traditions. It doesn’t define us, but food certainly is a part of who we are. Even authors of the Bible shared stories of  and with manna, milk and honey, unleavened bread and water and wine.

So I tried the herring. Not bad. Personally I think it would have gone great with some rice and kimchi (pickled spicy cabbage), but that’s just me. What I loved is that we broke bread (pancakes, sausage, fruit and pickled herring) and shared a sort of communion in a most unconventional way but hours later is still leaving my soul deeply connected to God and the beauty, diversity and richness of His creation and His people.

 

 


Is Blonde+Black > Everything Else? BTW Hindu Isn’t a Language

Wondering out loud, as an extrovert often does…is it my imagination or is the media (and perhaps the public) more concerned with:

  • the fact that Jackson, who is married to Chicago Alderman/Alderwoman/Alderperson Sandi Jackson, (and both Jacksons are African American) had a personal acquaintance flown in twice for a visit, and that said acquaintance has been described as female, blue-eyed, blonde and a hostess at a D.C. restaurant;
  • or renewed interest in allegations U.S. Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. was hoping some fundraising prowess was going to move him up on the U.S. Senate seat replacement list;
  • or that Jackson, during an on-air radio interview in Chicago Friday, said that while he was in the room when, “two Indian fund-raisers began speaking practically in Hindu and that he didn’t participate in the talk or even hear it.”

Um, if Jackson didn’t participate in the talk or even hear the talk how did he know the two Indian fund-raisers spoke in Hindu? Oh, wait. Maybe because Hindu isn’t a language, therefore Jackson couldn’t hear it? Ugh.

Actually, I wouldn’t have known about Jackson’s comment except for the fact that I read about it in this morning’s newspaper (the paper version). Until then, what I read and heard about primarily was that allegations about Jackson’s involvement in the Illinois U.S. Senate seat pay to play politics were back on and that Jackson wanted at least two private visits with his blonde, female friend who is a hostess. I heard that Jackson and his wife have dealt with this private matter and want it to stay private. Blah, blah, blah.

Yes, I have bone to pick. Several, in fact. Why does it matter that the female acquaintance is blonde and a hostess? Surely it isn’t meant at all, not even a teensy weensy bit to discredit her or make her seem “less”? It’s rather perplexing, actually. We live in a culture that worships young and beautiful (and often paler shades of beautiful) at all costs and then when you actually are young-ish and beautiful you’re the “acquaintance”. And it really matters if you are the white acquaintance of a black man (a la Tiger Woods).

But this recent scandal is almost perfect because it hits on race, ethnicity, culture, gender and religion. Jackson’s radio comment hit a nerve with me because so many conversations, as difficult as they are, are whittled down to Black and White. Hindu is not a language but a religion and a religion not limited to but connected deeply with India as well as other East, South East and South Asian cultures. Conversations about race get even more complicated when we add different voices, stereotypes, assumptions and blind spots and Jackson’s off-the-cuff comment about not hearing the conversation because the fund-raising power brokers in this case were of Indian descent and allegedly broke out in “Hindu” is a great example of that complexity.

The media would have us more ticked off that Jackson had a white female acquaintance than the fact that he, a U.S. Congressman representing a diverse population, made a rather ignorant statement about his understanding of diversity and culture.

At some point the media will talk with the female acquaintance and we will see more unnecessary photos of said woman in various stages of dress and less-dressed. In some circles of politically involved Evangelicals, there will be conversations about leadership and integrity and marriage all sorts of important “values”. And I will put money on at least a handful of us women talking about the gender issues in this story…but will we – politically involved or invested Evangelicals, men and women, of all races and ethnicities, dare embrace the complexity and messiness of integrating issues of race, ethnicity and religion into our conversations. After all, Jackson knew how to talk woman and blonde (and dare I say presumably white) but he couldn’t hear Hindu. Maybe he didn’t want to see it either and I terribly afraid so many of us out here don’t either.



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