Saturday, January 28, 2017

Reflecting on the Women's March on Washington

Last weekend my husband and I attended the Women's March in Washington, D.C. with some dear friends. It was an amazing day and one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I've never marched or protested before. This was my first time. Given my anxiety in crowds and my introverted nature, driving 8 hours through the night on Friday after work and spending my Saturday on my feet, trapped in a sea of humanity didn't sound all that appealing to me.

But if I want to live up to my One Little Word this year, I felt like I needed to be a part of this. I want to be on the right side of history. Imagine if I had been given the opportunity to attend the March on Washington back in 1963 and I declined because I don't like crowds. I would have regretted it for the rest of my life.

Our friend Joe who attended the march with us said something really profound in the van on our way home from the march: "I fell in love with 500,000 people I never met."

Words can't express what a powerful, unifying day it was for those 500,000 people we'd never met, but also for the friends with whom we traveled. Words also can't express how proud I am of my husband, whose presence at this march lit a fire under him and has turned him into an activist. It fills me with pride to see him standing up for something he believes in.

Here are a few pictures from that historic day:

I am under no delusion that this day was perfect. Yes, this was the largest march in American history. Yes, there were zero arrests, which is not only a source of pride but also a source of criticism. Why? Because if this had been a Black Lives Matter march or a march in support of any other marginalized people of color, would police presence been more aggressive? I'll let you mull over that one for a while. The day was also overwhelmingly white despite the emphasis on intersectional feminism. So yes, it was a beautiful, empowering day. But we still have work to do. And marching one day is not enough. This march was not a novelty. It was the beginning of a movement. We need to step up and pay more attention to our democracy, stop reading headlines on Facebook and start reading full-fledged articles from legitimate news sources. We need to start calling our senators and representatives on the regular. If you attended the march last weekend and HAVEN'T called your senators yet, what are you waiting for? And finally, all of us white feminists need to step up and start listening to more women of color. Feminism is stronger than our own white fragility.

Check out my current giveaway on my book blog, inspired by the Women's March on Washington.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

One Little Word 2017

Hello teacher friends. It's been a while.

Back in 2015 I was introduced to the concept of the One Little Word and ever since then, instead of New Year's resolutions, I have decided to use one word to be my theme for the year and my source of motivation and meditation.

My word for 2015 was BRAVE.
Last year my word was DO.

My word for 2017 has proven to be more of a challenge.

In many ways 2016 was a great year for me personally. My husband and I bought a new house in a town we love as the community here very much aligns with our values, we started running over the summer and completed our first 5K in October, in August, I started a new position at my school as the K-8 librarian and am loving every second of spending my day with kids and books,  I presented with some amazing authors like Laurie Halse Anderson, Matt de la Pena and Brendan Kiely at NCTE in November, AND on top of all that, I got to see Hamilton in Chicago.

But 2016 has also been a hard year for reasons I probably don't have to elucidate. That difficulty turned to outright grief when we all woke up on November 9th to a reality that many of us could have never imagined. To realize that we now live in a country that will be led by a man who is not only grossly unqualified for the job, but who is basically a danger to our liberty, values, civil rights, and peace means it's time for many of us to really WAKE UP and SPEAK UP.

So I considered choosing a word like RESIST or PROTEST as my word for 2017, but I didn't want the theme for my year to be about anger and outrage. I also considered SPEAK as my word as reminder that I should not and cannot remain silent as people's rights are violated and lives are put at risk. And while I was on the right track, that too didn't feel right.

And then I was reminded of some very powerful words said by Jason Reynolds at the ALAN workshop in November. He said that if you really want to have hope, you have to go out and DO SOMETHING. We all have to earn our hope. We can't just sit around and wait for our hope to sprout wings and get to work. WE have to do the work.

And with those words still ringing in my ears, I found my word for 2017:
with the reminder that I have to earn it each and every day.
And so when I grab my purse and keys every morning and leave the house, I am reminded every day of what I need to do. I HOPE if you're reading this you will DO SOMETHING to earn yours too.