On August 15, the Church issued a revised statement about racism in response to the terrorism in Charlottesville. Its initial statement was too general; it left too much room for misinterpretation. The second statement states that “white supremacist attitudes are morally wrong and sinful.”
A dear friend shared this C.S. Lewis quote on Easter Sunday and it resonated with me deeply:
There is a stage in a child’s life at which it cannot separate the religious from the merely festal character of Christmas or Easter. I have been told of a very small and very devout boy who was heard murmuring to himself on Easter morning a poem of his own composition which began ‘Chocolate eggs and Jesus risen’. This seems to me, for his age, both admirable poetry and admirable piety. But of course the time will soon come when such a child can no longer effortlessly and spontaneously enjoy that unity. He will become able to distinguish the spiritual from the ritual and festal aspect of Easter; chocolate eggs will no longer be sacramental. And once he has distinguished he must put one or the other first. If he puts the spiritual first he can still taste something of Easter in the chocolate eggs; if he puts the eggs first they will soon be no more than any other sweetmeat. They have taken on an independent, and therefore a soon withering, life.
In the storm of news that has happened over the past week, I’ve been struggling to figure out what to write. So many emotions, so many thoughts. Where to start?
I’ve felt terrified of the rapid authoritarian take over of our government, the silencing of dissenting voices, the usurping of power by a small group of racist, xenophobic, white-supremacists like Steven Bannon and Jeff Sessions. One only needs to read the news to see the pattern.
The government banned Muslims last week. It’s not a far stretch to imagine the Chinese will be next. China has long been portrayed as the enemy of the West. It’s not a big leap to imagine that I’m next. That my family is next. The idea of internment camps, concentration camps and refugee camps gnaw at the edges of my mind. My fear is real and, at times, crippling.
I’ve felt heartbreak for innocent people separated from families with futures in limbo, people whose lives have been crushed and hopes have been shattered. I’ve felt helpless in my desire to help.
I’ve felt anger at people who voted Trump into office, whatever their reasons. I’ve felt anger at people who continue to defend him and his actions, people who seem surprised at the way he has abused his power, spineless politicians unwilling to stand up for ethics, and morals. I’ve felt angry at leaders who are more concerned about their own positions than the welfare of our country and the future of our democracy. Yes, there has been a lot of anger.
I’ve felt a strong distancing from people who have the privilege to walk out of the room when things get uncomfortable, who have the privilege never to walk into the room at all.
I’ve felt a deep disconnect from people who shut out the news because the dismantling of our democracy and the persecution of millions will not affect them. I’ve been baffled by people who live so deep in their privilege they don’t believe injustice will happen, though it happens around them daily. People in denial are almost worse than the people who publicly proclaim their oppressive agendas.
I’ve felt shock – probably bordering on anger too – at people who continue to walk with blinders complaining about the “politics” on their Facebook feeds, seemingly unaware that we’re not fighting about politics anymore, but for the freedoms and rights of our Constitution.
Think that I’m sensationalist and overreacting? I say, I know history and I know where this path can lead.
Then yesterday, I got a Facebook message from a relative. It simply said, “I don’t know anything about politics. But I don’t like anything that’s happening right now. What do I do about it? Where do I start the fight? Please give me the first steps for someone who knows absolutely nothing.”
It was a shot of hope, like adrenaline coursing through my veins. I probably needed to read her message more than she needed any advice I attempted to provide. I needed the reminder of hope. Everyday, more people join the resistance.
This morning, I watched the Senate hearing for Betsy DeVos. Yes, there were several new additions to my little anger balloon. But, I felt inspired and relieved to hear from Senators who spoke truth about the real priorities and needs of our failing educational system. I loved listening to the Senators who blasted DeVos’s conflicts of interest, historically negative effect on schools and complete lack of qualifications. It felt good to know there are people in the government standing up too.
I feel hope knowing that teachers are on the front lines in schools, because teachers are some of the most resilient, bad-ass people that I know – especially urban teachers, who are the breed I know and love best. We know how to fight hard every single day and we do it for our kids.
I feel hope knowing that every time I’ve called a Senator’s office, the lines are busy. People are on top of their resistance game these days.
There are a lot of crazy things happening in our country, but I will not succumb to anger and fear. I will forever cling to hope.
As yesterday’s message reminded me, it’s never too late to learn. It’s not too late to rise up. It’s not too late to fight back.
We are living in pivotal moment in history. It is time to learn what we would have done during the Civil Rights movement, during Apartheid, during the Holocaust, during Japanese internment, during the Chinese Exclusion Act, during Columbus’ genocide of Native peoples… If we’ve ever wondered where we might have stood, what we might have done in the turbulent tides of history, we are standing there doing it now.
It is a time when we test the strength of our democracy. It is a time when we test our own moral courage. Perhaps at no other time has our system of checks and balances been stretched and distorted by people as dangerous or power-hungry. Can we withstand and hold strong?
Behind the nagging fear of what might come, I also have the rising feeling that we choose our future.
History doesn’t just happen to us.
We define it ourselves.
We will write our own stories.
We are in this for the long haul; there will be no resistance fatigue until we change the injustice, oppression and attempted destruction of our democracy.
For every woman, child, man who is waking up now to their own responsibility and power and voice.
The energy and power palpable in the air in the Bay Area Women’s Marches was undeniable and exhilarating. My cousin and I met up with friends at the Oakland march in the morning, then because of a burrito stop in the Mission, found ourselves unable to resist going to the San Francisco march in the late afternoon.
The drumming, dancing, chanting, cheering, marching and sign-ogling created a joyful, and empowering atmosphere of resistance. I loved the pink pussy hats, the children with posters and the elderly women signs reading, “I can’t believe I STILL have to fight this sh-!” I loved spending the day with family and close friends. I loved marching with the baby girl growing inside my belly. I loved marching at night, in the rain.
I love that Andy took Carter to the Redwood City rally, where his brother’s band performed on the bill with Joan Baez. We covered almost all the Bay Area demonstrations in our family.
I loved watching videos of marches all around the world. Inauguration was a day of fear, disbelief and anguish. Friday, the nation’s clocks were set back a few generations. Yesterday was a day of hope. I felt a renewed confidence in humanity. We will keep pushing forward.
Online, someone asked me why I marched. The reasons are almost too many to list, and seem to grow every day. But, it was a good question and one that deserves an answer. This is a stream of consciousness attempt to answer that question – it’s a scratch on the surface. Let’s talk sometime.
I march because I believe in human rights and civil rights. I march because I am a woman of color. I march because Black Lives Matter. I march because too few people acknowledge the pervasive, unjust and often deadly role that race plays in every social institution from education to criminal justice to health care to media to housing. I march because Trump’s campaign and leadership has stoked fear, hatred and violence against people of color, immigrants, women, disabled people, Muslims and other religious believers.
I march because I’m sick of hearing Black and brown people blamed for every social and economic ill. I march because urban communities are not the hell-holes of darkness and death Trump describes. I march because people of color are marginalized, criminalized and dehumanized – and then blamed for it by those in power.
I march because I’m appalled by the rhetoric used to divide people who should stand united. I march because dividing poor whites from people of color is a power tactic used throughout history to ensure that wealthy whites in power maintain the status quo – and it is clearly working again.
I march because I am the daughter of immigrants. I march because we live in a nation built by immigrants; we should celebrate and protect their rights and families. I march for students who live in fear of being torn from parents. I march for the Dream Act and DACA. I march because immigrants are not criminals, Mexicans are not rapists, and refugees are not terrorists. I march because we should welcome those in need with open arms.
I march because our criminal justice system is broken. I march because mass incarceration is Jim Crow resurrected. I march because Black and brown men make up a disproportionately large proportion of the prison population. I march because there is no justice in the system.
I march because I have fought to create equitable education systems for the last ten years. I march because our education system fails teachers and students alike. I march because appointing Betsy DeVos – a billionaire who contributed over $200 million dollars to Trump, but has never attended public school, has never taken out a student loan, will not definitively say children with disabilities should receive equitable access to education, will not say guns have no place in schools, wants to privatize education, cannot answer the most basic questions about education, and does not have the qualifications to be hired in a school– as Secretary of Education will destroy the lives of millions of children.
I march because climate change is real. I march because we must protect our planet and its resources. I march because the Dakota Access Pipeline should never cross Native lands. I march because water is life. I march because denying climate change to pursue short-term profits will destroy the environment in ways we will not be able to fix.
I march because everyone needs health care no matter their “pre-existing conditions.” I march because dismantling Obamacare without an alternative solution will kick millions of people off of their much-needed health care.
I march because I am a woman. I march because I demand equity in the workplace, recognition of my voice, and value in society beyond my physical appearance or relationship with men. I march because I want to break the glass ceiling. I march against the patriarchy. I march because I demand more family leave and changes to workplace culture. I march because I support Planned Parenthood. I march because preventing abortion means supporting access to contraception and health care. I march because I believe in choice and I trust women to make their own.
I march because I support equal rights for my LGBT family. I march because conversion therapy is a horror future generations will look back on with disgust and disbelief. I march because one’s gender and/or sexual identity is a beautiful thing, not a threat to the moral fabric of the universe. I march because love is love is love is love is love. Period.
I march because I fight against a Cabinet filled with unqualified people– predominantly white men – with little expertise in their appointed positions and dangerously unethical backgrounds. I march against Steven Bannon, a self-proclaimed leader of the white supremacist (euphemistically the “alt-right”) movement, a man who promotes racist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic news and ideas. I march against Jeff Sessions, a man whose record of racism and hate speech nearly derailed his career, who does not believe climate change is an issue, opposed legislation that would end inhumane treatment of detainees, who believes immigrants create cultural issues, and who voted against the Violence Against Women Act three times. I march against Scott Pruitt, a proponent of the fossil fuel industry, a climate change skeptic, and a man who has spent his career suing the Environmental Protection Agency, the organization he has been nominated to lead. I march against Ben Carson, Rex Tillerson, Mike Pompeo, and every other man with massive conflicts of interest, no experience, or views opposing the very organizations they aspire to direct.
I march against Presidential conflicts of interest. I march because a President with complex webs of business, but refuses to place them in a genuine blind trust, who involves his children – who lead his company – in meetings with foreign leaders is beyond problematic. I march against nepotism. I march against a man who continues to put personal interests ahead of the American people.
I march because I take hope in the fact that Hillary Clinton earned nearly three million more popular votes than Trump. I march because I support voting rights. I march against the gerrymandering and vote suppression that silenced our voices. I march against Russian interference with our democratic processes and the lies and silence the new regime uses to cover it up.
I march because I believe in facts. I march because a President who wages a war on truth – who consistently, blatantly lies about easily verifiable facts– who encourages his followers to disbelieve anyone that doesn’t agree with their opinions is a dangerous demagogue posing as a democratic leader. I march because silencing the media and punishing dissent is the beginning of an authoritarian regime that threatens democracy. I march because as Dan Rather wrote, “Facts and the truth are not partisan. They are the bedrock of our democracy. And you are either with them, with us, with our Constitution, our history, and the future of our nation, or you are against it. Everyone must answer that question.”
I march because I believe Trump is an immoral, immature bully who cares more about self-aggrandizement than anything else. His own history and words show how callously he dispenses with others; he unapologetically stokes racism, xenophobia, sexism, discrimination, hatred and bigotry. I march because he is a threat to the values, beliefs, people and principles that I hold dear.
I march because I know history. I march because we are following a historically predictable pattern that descends into dark times. I march because I believe we have the power to stop the pattern.
I march because I follow Jesus Christ. I march because he teaches love, equity, mercy, compassion and justice, and I believe we should seek for these ideals in our world. I march because social justice and the gospel of Christ are one language.
I march for my children. I march so my children will know how to fight back against injustice and oppression. I march so my children will know they have the power to create positive change in the world. I march because I am determined to create that change in the world now.
I march because I have hope.
Oakland Women’s March
Getting on the Bart to Oakland.
The lines to get out of the Bart station and to the march!
I couldn’t sleep last night. A heavy sense of fear and foreboding is settled into my gut; today is a dark day in history.
I have been thinking a lot about how I will resist. How I can stand up. How I can fight back and make a difference. And, the honest answer is that I don’t know yet.
But I know that I will.
I will not be afraid.
I will not be silent.
I will not forget that,
I will stand up for people and communities of color.
I will stand up for immigrants.
I will stand up for the LGBT community.
I will stand up for the marginalized.
I will stand up for people who practice their faith.
I will stand up for women.
I will stand up for civil rights and human rights.
I will stand up for education, the environment and health care.
I will stand up for honesty, ethics, morality and justice.
I will stand up for freedom, and democracy.
I will stand up for facts.
I will stand up for truth.
When I grow weary, I will read and re-read Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and Henry David Thoreau’s “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience.”
Today, the first song Carter asked to hear was “Revolution” by the Beatles. I will remember that.
Today, I wore all black in mourning, and yellow rainboots for hope. I shut off the news and took Carter to the library. Because I’m going to teach him to read. He will be informed and educated. He will know how to tell fact from fiction. And he will stand up too.
Then, we went to buy poster board and markers. Tonight, we will make signs.
Tomorrow, I march.
On Sunday, I will go to church to seek guidance and peace. I will pray, as I do everyday.