Like, I assume, many people recently I’ve gotten blamed for getting “so political” after this election. This was despite the fact that my Facebook page, conversations, and even thoughts had very little to do with policy or leaders beforehand. Nope, before this election and its disastrous results I was a pretty basic social media poster. I hit the ‘like’ button once a week, maybe, and it was probably on a post about someone’s kids or Netflix habits. I posted selfies because, well, I do. I told stories about that one time Lou was convinced a priest in cassock was Batman 2.0 (at least she didn’t say Darth Vader).
Now, you’ll see posts plastering my wall about resistance, what doing it consciously means, and videos of my little nuclear family doing just that. You’ll see us marching in the Women’s March, telling our personal stories of immigrating here just a generation or so ago, and lifting up the voices of friends that are Jewish and warning, Muslim and hurting, gay and afraid. If you can’t relate because these kinds of people don’t fill your life with color and beauty, then I feel very, very sorry for you. And I wonder, does it ever get boring sitting in rooms with people who look just like you or think just like you and going, “You’re awesome!” “No, you’re awesome!” “Wait, we’re both awesome because we are exactly the same!” I assume it would. I never want to know.
Here are the reasons I’m so political now-
- I always thought I would be: having discussions in high school in government or debate class, I always thought I’d raise my voice to help others who needed it or to speak my mind. I was (nerdy, yes) so taken in and impressed with our complex system that was built to give everyone a chance to speak. I liked that our senators, even our presidents, were so available to the people, working for the people in fact. Have something you want to say, based in emotion but still logical? A personal story or experience that weighs in on policy? Call your representative. Tell them. They’re supposed to listen. That’s an amazing thing. However, I never did it.
- I never did it because my life was okay:My life being okay, despite graduating from college during the Great Recession, made it so I didn’t feel like I had to use the right to speak. Sure, it took me almost a year to find a job in my field. Sure, my student loans ate up 90% of my income. Sure, I’ll still be paying them off for the foreseeable future, much more than twice as long as I was actually in school. Sure, there were times when we had to buy groceries with a credit card because our income went into student loans and basic utilities. Sure. We were okay, though. We ate. We got jobs eventually. We had a comfortable home. No one was outwardly and obviously hating on principles we hold dear in our lives like equality, diversity, and inclusion.
- Those that didn’t agree with those three principles mostly stayed quiet, at least those that we knew. I think they knew their opinions wouldn’t be welcome or shared. They didn’t have accepted or widespread access to people who wanted to “make America great again,” which just really translated to “make America white again,” and “make America hate and fear others again,” like it did with it’s own Japanese descended citizens during the Second World War. I would say, “not our best moment.” Our current president said, “I would have had to be there at the time to give you a proper answer,” about whether putting American citizens of a specific origin in internment camps was wrong. What. A. Shit.
- Now, those people are speaking up and out about their delusional opinions concerning what makes America great. And I so strongly disagree that not opposing loudly would be wrong. America is “the land of the free.” This means freedom of religion, including Islam, including whatever the hell I choose to practice. Freedom to travel, even if you’re here on a visa. It has become a time of class warfare against those using welfare by the billionaires nominated to the cabinet by the president (if you think Betsy DeVos is a sweet, agenda-less person just hoping to do right by all American kids including those in poverty or at-risk you’re mad). It’s become a judgement against any using the Affordable Care Act, including veterans and women using it for family planning. It has become a campaign of hate against those born in certain countries, including our neighboring Mexico. It has become a time when if you’re not white, middle or upper class, straight, and able to opt in to healthcare via your employer you’re screwed. Screwed by your our country. I can’t stand for that, ever.
- I’m so impressed by those doing right, it’d also be wrong not to acknowledge them. Think of the broad coalition of religious institutions that just took a stand for the ACA, those holding the sign that says “Our Jewish family stands with Muslim refugees and Muslim Americans” at this airport protest, and the fact that the former first daughter said “no” to Palm Springs and “yes” to a DAPL protest.
- I can. I will. I’m strong. And a woman. And an immigrant’s daughter. People have picked on me for these things. I’ll never forget when what I thought was a friend in high school told me, preaching, about how wrong interracial marriage is. When I pointed out I am the product of an interracial marriage his response was that it was okay because I look white. What?! During my first journalism gig as a sideline sports reporter someone asked if I “even knew anything” about football. Because of my gender? I stuffed my “my fantasy team could kick your’s ass” response back down my throat and instead commented on what I’d learned studying their receiver route tree. When an all white team was heard repeatedly using the most derogatory names to a predominantly Latino team during a high school soccer game I was reporting on, it was I who made the decision not to say anything in my story because the small town I was working in wouldn’t want to hear about it. It was the wrong decision. I know that now. Who will stand up for those kids, who will make them feel like they’re welcome in our country? Me. From now on. You, if you’ll join me.