Why We March – and keep on marching

When they go low, we go high. And that’s why I won’t show you some of the signs from the Women’s March, no matter how clever. I saw plenty held by women my age and older announcing “I can’t believe we’re still protesting this #$@&!” This woman managed to say the same thing without profanity.

‘Nuff said. Or is it?

“Nasty” has become a synonym for strong.

With a piece of poster board and some good paint or markers, these two women made a point that many do not see. We women worked hard to get the right to make decisions about when and whether we’ll bear children. We paid out of our own pockets for birth control for a long, long time.

Many young women don’t know the history. They don’t remember when a woman couldn’t teach school if she became pregnant. Too many women tell stories of how they wore baggier and baggier clothes until they couldn’t hide their growing bellies, at which time they lost their jobs.

I explained in a Facebook thread the very real danger of losing access to birth control and access to health care in general, and the role Planned Parenthood plays in helping young women on both counts. Someone commented – or should I say, shouted? – “Buy your own damn birth control!” Face to face, that person would have looked at me and known I wasn’t one of the young women I mentioned. I am 56, had my last child 25 years ago, and had a hysterectomy three years ago. I am well past my child bearing years. Buy my own? I did, for years, because my health plan didn’t cover it.

This ignorant comment, however, reinforced the need for advocacy. I will continue to be a vocal advocate for women’s rights, especially a women’s rights to control when and whether she will become pregnant.

You can purchase Mary Engelbreit’s print here.

Proceeds from this print, and this print only, will go to Planned Parenthood.

The Wardrobe of the Rebellion

I bought my Teach Peace sweatshirt last fall. It didn’t seem radical then, but now I wonder whether I should wear it to school or not. I decided yes, I can wear it, because the sentiment is not rebellious. Peace is a valuable, if not exactly realistic, goal.

Nasty Woman gear hit the interwebs after the third debate of the presidential campaign. In the feminist world, the term became synonymous with strong.

Ah, the pink pussy hat! A coworker told me she has one. She leaves it in her car when she gets to school, but she has it. She wears it. She describes it as “cute.” I don’t have one – yet – but the question comes to me: What does it mean to wear this in public? Wearing a pink pussy hat to a rally has a clear meaning: don’t mess with me, celebrity or not. Thousands of women wore them on January 21st, and the world took notice. I predict these hats will stay in style for, oh, at least four years.

The safety pin is still out there, just not as prevalent as it was initially. The trend started in the U.K. and spread via social media to the U.S. after, you know, The Inauguration. The safety pin quietly announces that the wearer is a Safe Person. If someone is being harassed, threatened, and needs help, the victim can reach out to the one with the pin. I see safety pins on Facebook profiles, Twitter hashtags, but few in public. Heck, maybe I don’t travel in the right circles. I know many who consider themselves advocates but don’t wear the pin. This symbol might see a surge in popularity wlong with the surge in deportations.

An old favorite, the Believe There is Good in the World tee shirt, attended the Women’s March in Chicago on my sister-in-law and niece. I wore mine at home – mine being the second I’ve purchased with this slogan because I wore out the first. No matter who leads the free world, I hope many will continue to believe and to Be The Good in the World, too.

The latest on the tee shirt scene is Nevertheless, She Persisted. Senator Elizabeth Warren was “warned, given an explanation; nevertheless, she persisted” to read the now-famous letter from Coretta Scott King criticizing the now-infamous Senator Sessions in his quest to become Attorney General. This slogan has been applied retroactively to Ruby Bridges, Susan B. Anthony, Rosie the Riveter, and more straight up strong women. This one, folks, may last more than four years.

On Election Day in 2012, I slipped my Team Obama tee shirt under a fleece bearing the logo of my employer. Will I do that again? Readers, what are you wearing to the revolution? Your pink cat hats? Teach Peace athletic wear? Something I’ve forgotten? Leave a comment, if you dare.

Alternative Facts

We’ve all heard them. We disregard them, sometimes even laugh a little at the sheer ridiculousness that someone might want us to believe. Here are a few alternative facts that circulate – wherever.

One size fits all.

Easy open package.

Lifetime warranty.

Easy return policy.

Sanctuary cities are hotbeds of crime.

The dog ate my homework.

Wikipedia rocks.

Painless childbirth.

3 million undocumented immigrants voted in 2016.

Contents not included.

He must have misspoken.

Okay, readers, I’ve made my point. Can you think of others? Add comments for me, please.

Walk a Mile in my Shoes Empathy Book Club

Sanctuary cities. Executive orders. Airport detentions. A border wall. The news is full of negatives, stereotypes, anger, and fear. What’s missing? Empathy. Here’s a book list to encourage empathy for those who come to America from other cultures, whether voluntarily or as refugees. With the exception of the first title, all are suitable for young people.

  • A Step from Heaven by An Na
  • A Korean family moves to America, and the daughter has to find her inner strength to keep herself and her family whole. Despite her intelligence and ability to learn the language quickly, the girl encounters racism and sexism as she adjusts to her new home.
  • The Late Homecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir by Kao Kalia Yang
  • The Hmong people were recruited to help American troops during the Vietnam war. After the war, when the new government began to persecute them, the United States provided a safe haven for Hmong refugees. Kao Kalia tells the stories of several generations as they flee Laos through camps in Thailand and eventually settle in the Midwest. The first person accounts make for a powerful read.
  • Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
  • Esperanza is forced to leave Mexico after a tragedy takes her safety and her family’s wealth. She is unprepared for the challenges of living in a new country with no money and no home. Esperanza is Spanish for hope, and 13 year old Esperanza finds her inner strength as she follows a path that leads to hope and a better life. This book won the Newbery Award in 1999.
  • Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhja Lai
  • A new home in Alabama means safety from the Vietnam war, but this family misses their old home in Saigon as they adjust to the new culture, new landscape, and strange foods and customs. Discrimination is rampant for their Asian appearance and poor English skills. A Newbery honor book in 2012 – well worth the time for the amazing writing and heart felt story.
  • In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord
  • The story takes place in Brooklyn, NY, during 1947. The backdrop of Major League Baseball’s integration helps Shirley Temple Wong and her family adjust to being recent immigrants from China. Winner of many awards, this is a valuable read.
  • Grab Hands and Run  by Francis Temple
  • Felipe is twelve when his father is killed and he must grab hands with his sister and mother and flee El Salvador for safety in Canada. This book follows their long and difficult journey, and includes the dangers they face and their doubts about leaving their home.

Readers, what are some other books you recommend – for young adults or those who are grown-ups?

We mourned, we marched, and now —

I saw it on social media. “Friday, we mourned. Saturday, we marched. Where will you be next?”

I remembered when we, the educators and the unions, packed the Wisconsin Capitol. We marched, we sang, we protested, and to no avail. Those in power still passed the ugly bill we called Act 10, sending our bargaining rights back by 40 to 50 years. Our numbers, our marches, our voices were ignored.

On Friday, January 20, many turned off the televisions and turned our backs on the scary sight of Donald Trump taking office as President of the United States. On Saturday, even more took to the streets. Rallies in Chicago, Washington D.C., and elsewhere attracted so many people that the corresponding marches could not take place. Attendees were so numerous that they already filled the march routes.

And for what did we march? For our health care, our rights as human beings, our respect – and self respect, too. We marched to remind people that women are scared, and despite our fears and worries, we won’t take any more steps backwards. We marched to say “Hey, we heard you. We heard you mock a disabled reporter. We heard you claim you had the right to grab women in their “pussy” because you were a celebrity. We heard you call immigrants from Mexico rapists and drug dealers. We heard you announce you would prevent people who are Muslim from entering this country, and we heard you suggest a registry for those who follow Islam.”

We heard you, Mr. Trump, and we won’t forget.

The question remains: what’s next? For some, it’ll be donations to Planned Parenthood, Emily’s List, or local and state progressive activist groups. For some, it’ll mean participating in more events like Saturday’s march. For others, what’s next will be emails and phone calls to elected officials, whether we voted for them or not.

Trust me on this, folks. I predict further activity. We are women, and we’ll roar, in numbers too big to ignore (Thanks, Helen!). We won’t lose our right to speak freely or peaceably assemble. We won’t lose the rights to make decisions about our own health and our own bodies.

And that, my readers, is where we’re going next.

Next…moving along, not moving on

I couldn’t watch the inauguration. Late in the day, while we were on the road to take Amigo to La Petite’s for the weekend, I scanned my Facebook page. I kept getting choked up – but not sadness this time. My Facebook newsfeed was filled with friends and acquaintances determined to make themselves heard.

Several showed off their pink knit pussy hats for the rallies and marches. Those pink hats on display say very clearly “We are women, hear us roar!” and “Hands off my body, you jerk.” Their presence at rallies and in marches shouted out a reminder of an inspiring woman: women’s rights are human rights.

Now here it is, Saturday, and I’m not marching. I worked on grades for progress reports, and then I started the weekly task I call laundry. Meanwhile, my friends marched. Several in Madison, at least two in Washington, D.C., a significant handful in Chicago, a few in California and Washington state – and more.

And before I forget (yeah, right), I have one more quote to share. It’s a wonderful moment when the student surpasses the teacher. This statement came from a former student, a recent college graduate. She has the right attitude.

Today, and for the next 4 years, I will show love. I will fight for equality, for human rights, for women, for science, for education. But most of all, I will use the privileges I have been given to show love to those who will need it most, so that their world may look just a little bit brighter.

Well said.

Eight Years Ago

Memories — Recipe for an Historic Inauguration
Take one republic, preheated by
Poverty and
Health care crises.
Blend worries, industry failures, job losses
Top with slashed budgets and crashing morale.
Mix dedicated candidates with
and Passion.
Nurture from deep grass roots
Seek hope, change, and motivation.
Beat at high speeds until competition peaks.
Organize. Volunteer. Vote.Set aside to cool.
Season with Knowledge
Plans and Ideas
Fold in global perspective,
Authentic world view.
Ship by train to nation’s capital.
Set atop quality cabinet.

Serve with courage and inspiration.

photo credit: La Petite, at a rally last June

Take the Positive and Rephrase the Negative

When they go low, we go high.  – Michelle Obama

The Hillary Mug

Never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it. – Hillary Clinton

Don’t stop believing. – Journey

My inner English Language Arts teacher is cringing. Let’s get the passive out of this saying. Let’s un-split the infinitive. And then, let’s imagine those words coming out of Hillary Clinton’s mouth – and out of ours.

Believe it; fighting for what’s right is worth it.

Keep fighting for what’s right; it’s worth it.

Keep on fighting for what’s right; the fight is worth the effort. 

Believe in the future; the goal is worth the fight. 

Keep on believing and keep on fighting for what’s right. 

Readers, which do you like best? Or do you have another way to rephrase this? Let’s do it, and then let’s make t-shirts and mugs of it. Oh, heck. More importantly, let’s choose a phrase and then make it happen.

Goodbye, 2016. Hello, 2017.

“Happy” New Year? The inauguration of a horrible leader is looming. It’s not a happy start to 2017.

R.I.P. 2016 and all whom we lost during that time period. Some were elderly and ready to go. Some were *gasp* my age or close to it. How did George Michael get younger than me? Carrie Fischer was a few years older than I am, but not many. And Prince? The man seemed ageless, and his talent infinite.

Maybe we need to get used to seeing notable people die in, gulp, larger numbers. The entire Baby Boom population is in the AARP range now. Many are in and many are approaching social security age. Proportionately, the number of deaths will make sense. To our hearts and memories, those deaths strike us as significant.

Back to January 20. I’ve been sitting back and observing my activist friends. Don’t count out those progressive spirits who worked their tails off for Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. They took time to mourn after November 8, and then the grass roots began growing again. There’s already a sizable citizen action co-op operating in my area. Last time I heard, there were enough people committed to demonstrating in D.C. and in Madison that coach buses were being reserved. To prepare for the demonstrations, some are making pussy hats. Search the web for knitting and crocheting patterns if you want one. Grab that, DT.

Friends and colleagues admit to having trouble speaking or even typing Donald Trump’s name. Think about Harry Potter, my friends. He Who Shall Not Be Named or You-Know-Who – by not saying his name, they gave him power. With that in mind, folks, let’s not give Baby Hands or Cheetoh-head any more power than he deserves.

Let’s call him Voldemort.

Dear Facebook Friends; it’s all about the smile.

If your post says, “Share if you (fill in the blank)” it doesn’t matter if I (fill in the blank) or not. I will not share it. I find it insulting that someone should order others to prove their support, but not trust those others to know how to demonstrate their allegiance.

I no longer sign online petitions, no matter what the cause. I do, however, appreciate posts that describe concrete methods of activism such as postcards, phone calls, and the emails of influential people in power.

I revel in the cuteness of bunny pictures. Oh, yes, and those baby goats in pajamas that keep turning up. The baby bunnies in sweaters? I’m still cooing and smiling over them.

I respect and admire my fellow progressives. I might not be sharing your posts, but I’m liking a lot of them. I’m also expressing myself by using the “sad” and “angry” emoticons.

Those memories? Sometimes they’re scary. I haven’t shared many of my stroke-related memories because that was a difficult time, and not so long ago. Sometimes they’re happy, though. Many of the seasonal memories make me smile.

That’s where it ends, Facebook friends and family. I’m operating under a careful policy for the time being. In order to rate a Share on my part, er, page, the meme or video or post must inspire a smile. Baby goats in pajamas: yes. Trump bashing – no. I don’t respect him, and I expect to fight him when I can, but not through Facebook. Snowfall on branches: yes. Baby pictures from friends and extended family: absolutely yes.

For now, peeps, laughter and smiles must win.