I had a blog post planned for this week. I was going to talk about time. How time moves slowly and fast when you are a new parent. I could still talk about that, but in light of the historic election last week I thought I should make some kind of comment on that. Though I am sometimes micro-focused on life with my small children, I’m not unaffected by what’s going on in the world.
This week has provoked many thoughts and feeling from all of us. We are all still making sense of what this means for the US and if there will be broader implications. Some of us are elated with feelings of excitement, satisfaction and change. Others are mournful and fearful. This is the most universally emotionally charged election I’ve been cognizant of in the US. As a new parent I am working out what this means for myself and my family. As a citizen I am working out what role I want to have in the future of our country. It can be hard to find a balance between parenting very needy children and staying politically engaged, but I feel strongly that I need to do both.
I feel like I need to put out there that I am coming from a position of privilege. Much of the responses I’ve seen to this election have illuminated the divide in our country between those who mostly live in a bubble of privilege and those who do not.
From our black leaders and citizens we are hearing that the election results were no surprise, and that white Americans need to wake up to the reality of white supremacy. From middle America we are hearing that this was about jobs, security, and re-invigorating small-town America. From women we are hearing the disgust with a country tacitly approving of misogyny.
There are endless points of view on the outcome and everyone believes theirs to be true and accurate. I have my own points of view. They are a little murky and still evolving, but in some ways they are clearer than ever. To be sure they reflect my position of privilege, but I hope they also reflect my efforts to be a socially conscious ally to those who experience ongoing systemic oppression. I don’t always say the right thing or know what to do, but I think I’m on the right path as an ally of social justice.
A response that some friends have had is to seek peace and to disengage from the conversation. I think many liberal white progressives are shocked and disappointed at the outcome of this election. Some are responding by protesting and mobilizing. Some are turning to their micro-world and hoping for the best. There is a lot on the line here as a parent of small children. I am worried about:
A continued system of white supremacy that oppresses persons of color thereby robbing us all of the opportunity to reach our highest potential and perpetuating hate.
The reproductive rights of myself and my daughters.
The safety and security of the many refugee families that live in my community and came to America in hopes of escaping unsafe situations.
The proposed deportation of millions of individuals (including children) who do good, hard, honest work.
The civil rights and safety of LGBTQ friends and neighbors.
Many people are hopeful that the new government will help create jobs, increase a feeling of national security, decrease taxes and restore a perceived better way of living that some once enjoyed. (I urge you to remember that the past is riddled with egregious abuses to various peoples’ civil rights – what is so great about that?)
So while it may be easier to ignore what’s happening outside my door – that response tends to be a very privileged response to the situation. It could mean that I am not feeling directly fearful for my civil rights or even my life. I argue that our world is better when we are looking out for ALL our citizens’ rights, safety, and wellbeing. This is why I am working to stay engaged in the conversation and seeking opportunities for small acts of activism.
I’ve been asking myself many questions. What can I do to affect positive change? Where will my efforts be most fruitful? What is my sphere of influence? Can I really have any effect on things? What do I want to see happen? What’s the answer? Who can be trusted? Is my point of view right?
I haven’t found the answer to these questions yet. The one question I have answered in my head is When I look back at this time what side of change do I want to see myself on?
That answer is clear: I want to be able to say that I stood up for what I believe in and I worked to make it a reality.
I’m working on finding a balance between meeting the immediate needs of my baby and young daughter and fighting for what I so strongly believe in. I’m engaged in the conversation with friends and neighbors and the world at large. I’m looking for opportunities in my community to become involved in organizations that are working towards changes I believe in. I am a mother and an activist.
I’m also practicing self-care. There are times that I do need to unplug in order to recharge. There are articles I can’t read right now. There are people I don’t really want to talk to about their beliefs. There are meetings I can’t make because I’m busy with dirty diapers, baths, and bedtime. There are times when I need to escape and find some peace in the day or the week.
I’m making meaning of this election and understanding the perspective of others who disagree with my point of view. At the same time I am firming up my beliefs and fully recognizing some hard truths about myself and my country.
I know you are all thinking a lot about the election results of last week. I also know many of you are overwhelmed with getting through the day with small babies. I hope that we all find ways to be on the right side of change.