Monday, November 21, 2016

Facing 2017

“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” 
― Audre Lorde
If you follow me on social media, you know how I feel about the outcome of the recent elections. I won't rehash all of that here, but I will tell you my plans for this blog moving forward. This page began as a way to reflect on my grad school journey, but was always about something bigger than that - particularly, my quest to proactively cultivate joy as I set out into the post-grad world. This mission seems even more important as we face what will inevitably be a challenging and often disheartening four years for this country.

I want this blog to be a space where I continue to actively cultivate that joy, as one act of defiance against an administration that has built itself upon fear and hatred. I'm no longer blogging for Simmons Admissions (no hard feelings, I just decided it was someone else's turn), which means I am free to navigate this ship with a renewed purpose. I was inspired by Cristen Conger's decision to branch out from her Stuff Mom Never Told You web series and launch her Do Better Dispatch. Cristen is a badass brilliant lady and she describes her project in this way:
"A weekly newsletter dedicated to allyship, uplift and intersectionality from nasty woman, gender nerd and Stuff Mom Never Told You creator, Cristen Conger. White feminism sold separately, batteries not included. Suggestions, questions and privilege-checking welcome. We're in this hot mess together, y'all."
Cristen and Samantha Bee are giving me life right now. I've also been obsessively following Kimberly Foster of For Harriet.

I want to share a few of the things I am doing, or planning to do, to stay engaged in this fight. It is by no means comprehensive, but it's part of my goal to Do Better. I hope that readers will be inspired by these ideas, and will please provide suggestions for me to take this even further.
  • For the next four years, on the 10th of each month, I will be making a $20 donation to an organization that advocates against sexual assault, Islamophobia, xenophobia, or racism (this is in addition to the $15 that I already give each month to Planned Parenthood Action). That's $20/month x 4 years, + November and December 2016 = $1000. One thousand dollars to fight against the human slime that will occupy our highest office. I want to support a diverse group of organizations, because the revolution will be #intersectional. This month I chose to support the Southern Poverty Law Center. If you want to take similar action, Jezebel has provided a list of organizations here.
  • In the early rawness of last week, I created a self-care basket for the women's room in my office. I am trying to back this up by being a good listener and recognize that my privilege protects me from being directly impacted by many of this administration's threats.

  • Last week, I called Governor Baker's office to ask him to step up as a leader in this moment, and issue a formal statement that Massachusetts respects all people and will be a refuge for anyone who feels they are under attack. I told his aide, that the Governor's leadership is especially important since he did not cast a vote for president in the recent election. I also reminded him of this quote from Desmond Tutu. I especially feel that as a "moderate" Republican, Gov. Baker has a responsibility in this administration to speak out against injustice and maintain sanity in his party. See this article about the phone blitz, orchestrated largely by Pansuit Nation. I plan to continue calling my legislators regularly.
  • I want to recognize the dedication of public servants like AG Maura Healey, whose office established a phone line for victims of hate crimes and violence following the election. I also delivered a thank you note to her office.

  • Finally, I am committing to fill the gap in my classic English major education and hopefully become a better ally by reading more, and reading intersectionally. All of the books that I read for "fun" (not school) in 2017 will be books by women of color. I've started this goal right now; so far I've completed The Color Purple by Alice Walker and I am halfway through The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
None of these things are enough, and I plan to keep building on them with activism, volunteerism, and advocacy. I recognize my privilege and my responsibility to stay engaged. I hope that this space can facilitate conversation as I try to Do Better.

Recent reads:
Sarah J. Brazaitis: White Women's Trump Card
Kimberly Foster (For Harriet): What Not to Say to Anyone Still Grieving Trump's Election
The Light Bulb podcast: What's Next?
Stuff Mom Never Told You podcast: Election Hangover
Tiffanie Drayton: Why White Women Broke for Trump
Blythe Roberson: Ways I am Preparing for a Trump Presidency (comic relief)