I’m not what you would call particularly sentimental. But I have more than once in the past week started thinking about what I was doing this time last year. The answer is that I was lacing up my marching boots. They were green, the color of my husband’s eyes.
I didn’t have a hat or a sign, but I armed myself with some strongly worded phrases and a camera – the only things I thought I needed. Well, and maybe a pocket sized bottle of tequila and a protein bar.
I remember getting off the train from Manhattan to DC, and hearing a solo street jazz musician playing the star spangled banner on his trumpet. I was immediately overwhelmed with patriotism, hope and love for this great nation. With tears in my eyes I headed to march with the hundreds of other women pouring out of Union Station onto the streets of the capital. But then, I realized I still had my giant orange suitcase. Darn you logistics for ruining what would have been such a great movie moment. So, I turned direction and hailed a cab to the hotel.
After dropping my weighted case, I took back to the streets. Some distance from the capital, I knew I had a bit of ground to cover before I met up with the pink hatted masses. But I was wrong. The minute I hit the streets, I noticed a few straggling groups here and there on the other side of the street. We started to collect as a mass. With every turn of a corner more and more people appeared, all headed in the same direction. Some were men, some were children. But, yes, most were women. Women like me that shuddered that as a collective, the United States of America had elected a reality star that had garnered celebrity as a successful business man while failing at every aspect of business: bankruptcies, ethic breaches, sexual assaults, and a gross lack of understanding of fundamental government principals.
As I inched along the streets of DC with my fellow Americans, fists to the air, I was ready to take on the entire Executive Branch of government. I was ready to get arrested, punched in the face, firehosed and beaten by Police.
Instead what happened is I cried and shouted until my feet throbbed. “Welcome to your first day, we will not go away” was one of many phrases that that were chanted over and over. I stood face to face with the capital police. But strangely, I didn’t get punched in the face. There were no arrests. Nobody had a fire hose and I wasn’t even able to get close enough to the White House to see it. But I was undeterred.
After arriving back home on the west coast, I immediately announced I was going to run for office (I didn’t). I said I was going to change the world (I haven’t). I started a grass roots women’s group that was going to help local immigrants (it happened once) and I was going to attend meetings with other groups to synchronize our efforts (that happened twice.) I thought my momentum was going to overpower local and state inertia on all things inequality related. I guess I could say I’m still waiting.
But what happened then was another Monday morning came. And I discovered I still had to get up and make breakfast. I had to get the kids to school and get to work. I had bills to pay and projects to wrap up. I had clients that needed things and kids that had afterschool activities. I had dinner that had to be shopped for and made and errands that needed to be run. And when it came time for all the volunteer activities I sworn to accomplish on a day to day basis were a bit unsurmountable. How was I, one white girl living in suburbia going to change the world when all I wanted to do was go to bed?
I was still reading the news with anxiety, anger, frustration and disdain. I still felt like the world was headed down a dangerous path. And I still felt helpless.
But then, I listened to a woman (read “seasoned activist”) who reminded me of a few things. She reminded me that we can’t do it all. If we tried, we would burn out, or worse, stop participating period. So, I started to see it wasn’t all going to happen in a cinematic female montage during of version of Aretha Franklin’s R E S P E C T playing in the background. While I was disappointed in this news, I took to heart some of the things I learned that day:
1.) One person can change the world, but it takes time.
2.) The little things still matter. Instead of volunteering each week for hours, I can make a call to my senator or house representative to voice my concerns about measures that are up for vote. I keep track via Daily Action. Please check it out if you’re not already subscribed. https://dailyaction.org
3.) I can also call other peoples congress men and women and share my concern about their votes as well.
5.) I can set up recurring donations to organizations that are doing the work that matters to me. For me, it’s Planned Parenthood - https://www.plannedparenthood.org
6.) I can talk to my friends about how to be a partner to people of color and the injustices that continue to be perpetuated on this population. Following thought leaders of color on Facebook and listening to their take on news and legislation is a great start. One resource I like to read is: https://www.theroot.com
7.) I can find out who within my personal circle may have immigration status that is at risk and how best to help them.
8.) I can talk to my son and daughter about #metoo and why its so important.
And come January, I can put those green boots back on, the ones that are the color of my husband’s eyes, and I can get back out and march. I hope you join me.