Ready to fight
In college I was very socially involved. I wasn’t dropping banners from building rooftops or anything but was a part of campus politics and spent a lot of time in room 441 of the student union eating pizza and getting pissed off at the administration, the government, the world. I went to Washington to march for women’s rights. I had a fire that burned inside me and it could not be tamed.
Eventually the fire died down. It’s not that I no longer cared about those issues but I also cared about not being depressed. It’s hard to see the world for what it really is. It’s hard to get worked up about every sexist thing you see. I live in this society and honestly, it sucks. It’s hard and sad and for my own mental health I had to choose to ignore some of the really bad stuff. I’ve felt myself slip from my ideals – I say things here and there that I know are inappropriate. I catch myself seeing the side of the oppressor in arguments from time to time. I no longer spell women with a “y’ in professional correspondence. But I do the best I can. I have a tattoo that has been on my arm for almost ten years – A woman’s symbol with the word “revolution” running though it. I remind myself that every move I make is one of a feminist and if it’s not I hold myself responsible. I remind myself that being a feminist in this world is taking action, even if it doesn’t always feel like that.
I’ve been preparing for this to change as I enter motherhood. I want my child to see the world and see social justice. I want to take them to protests and have real conversations about privileged and inequality. I told myself at 21 that I couldn’t change the world – that’s something I never want to tell them. I want to find a way to show them how to speak up and rally for change without feeling defeated. I’m not sure if that is possible but I want to try.
This stuff in Ferguson is getting to me a lot. (I’m just going to assume you all know what I am talking about.) Our country is at war abroad but also here. Things are getting worse and kids keep dying. I had a really hard time with Trayvon Martin and there have been so many deaths since then and Michael Brown is just the latest in a long list of names that keeps getting longer. I watch my friends get upset about school shootings (which are TERRIBLE, I am not denying that) in white communities and turn a blind eye to the race wars going on in our country. I am much more terrified of police brutality than school shootings, to be honest. This is a very scary time and in six weeks I will bring a child into it. I know so many people who don’t talk about these issues with their kids – I just don’t get it. I can’t imagine having to explain these events to my child but I also can’t imagine not having that conversation. I feel no greater responsibility as a parent than to speak to my child about race and class and privilege. But on days like today, on weeks like this week, I sit with a heavy heart and acknowledge that I can no longer keep my head in the sand. I will do my duty as a parent and teach my child to be an activist. I just hope I can help them find a better balance than I could.
On a final note, this song has been in my head all day and I thought someone else out there might need it, too. The link is crappy and from myspace because no one listens to Ember Swift anymore but her songs were a big part of my life (as was my huge crush on her) before everything got too much for me and she moved to China and married a man. There are so many times I hear her songs on a loop in my head – this one is on today.