Women’s March Chicago: Big, Beautiful Historic, Sober, Determined

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How was the Women’s March today? Depends on who you ask.

“Big!” Says my sixteen year old son. “Lots and lots of people.” Considering he is over six feet tall I suppose he had a good view of the crowd and the pink hats. He also was not at the Women’s March last year and so his biggest march was Earth Day with roughly 45,000 people. Today’s crowd was more like 300,000.

“Beautiful!” said the police commander when my friend asked him how it went. Peaceful and pleasant almost to a fault. Right before the march an organizer said, “Remember to be respectful of each other and public property.” And we were.

“Historic”, said our friend who also was impressed that it marks the anniversary of the birth of a Movement.

“Sober and mature” I thought, compared to last year’s marches which swelled beyond expectations. Last year in D.C. everything felt electric as people rushed with outrage and urgency to defend Americans and the nation’s ideals.  Now both their heads and their hearts are in the game. People know better how to proceed, how to pace themselves, how to win the long game to restore this country.

I saw ‘Dan Biss for Governor” signs. Meanwhile, JB Pritzker wound his way through the crowd near us , accessible to folks for chat and pics. Lisa Madigan gave one of the most inspiring and focused speeches. Basically she said,  “1. You can do anything (you already do, like build businesses, teach, volunteer), 2. You are powerful, 3. We are more powerful together. 4. Get out there to vote and run for office.” Powerful message we can think on, and act on!

My recommended 2018 To Do list:

  1. Register to vote
  2. Ask everyone you know to register to vote–friends, neighbors, sales clerks, the mailman, (I remind telemarketers who call my home)
  3. Stay alert for rallies, marches and other organized activity in your area. See PersistList.org for happenings in Chicago and/or sign up for your favorite causes who will send you alerts.
  4. Stay informed about candidates as we approach elections. Go to ballotready.org for information about candidates up and down the ballot, and triangulate news sources for good information.
  5. Let’s all get in formation and march to the polls for 2018!

The gravitational force of S***holes: A story of my lost innocence

SAVE THE DATE: January 20, 2018, Women’s March in Chicago

My friends will find it hard to believe but, yes, I swear now, well sometimes. Up until the 2016 presidential election I had probably spoken a swear word less than five times in my four-plus decades of existence. Imagine my surprise when the first victim of my new-found vocabulary was my own son…

It never seemed a natural thing for me. The words didn’t come to mind. I have a naturally more positive and optimistic nature that staved off harsh words, and perhaps also an old-fashioned sense that ladies do not swear.

But I now think the real reason I did not swear all that time was because I was never angry enough, or cynical enough, or desperate enough to reach for the words, finding that all others failed me.  As a teen I remember when my mom said “you have to be f**ked before you can say the word.” I knew what she meant from the context of her story. She did not mean intercourse she meant when you are screwed, betrayed, ill-used.

That’s how I felt in the days following November 8, 2016. Betrayed…not by lying, cheating, sexually harassing, corrupt, Trump. Betrayed by my fellow countrymen who fell victim to his con. Desperate…to be trapped in a boat with people who were either greedy, racist, reckless for change, fearful, ignorant, gullible, or some toxic combination of any of the above.

I knew that life just got harder. Suddenly I was answering to my kids about local vandalism involving swastikas, fending off their requests to move to Canada and, worst of all, responding to one of their suggestions that they “pretend not to be Jewish” for safety’s sake.

So when I arrived at home on a Friday night, a few weeks into December 2016, with a headache and a smile painted on my face for their sake, I found it hard to withstand the banal bickering over what movie to watch. One kid was a hold out and after 30 minutes of him being uncooperative I finally lost it and said in dead pan fashion (because I was too tired to yell, I suppose), “I don’t f’ing care what you want to watch. I simply want escapist entertainment, any f’ing movie will do, because I had an f’ing hard week, and f’ing Trump was elected president, and I’m f’ing going upstairs to crawl into bed.”  A few minutes later I could hear my husband enter the house, “Where’s mom?’, “She’s upstairs…in bed” one answered, and another blurted out, “She swore at us, Dad!”. My husband’s voice rose to a yell, “She SWORE at you?!!”, “Well then you get upstairs right now and apologize to her!!” (God bless him).

So liberating in that moment and so handy for some months to come when once again other words would escape me or feel inadequate. But here’s the thing. Once you go so low, there is no lower. (Except for violence). And sometimes I feel like our American dialogue keeps inventing new lows. Candidate Trump gained support by swearing. We thought we hit rock-bottom when Scaramucci was cursing up a storm in the White House and was dismissed. But cursing has become and remained a norm in the Trump White House and today Trump combined his foul mouth with his racist disdain for black or brown immigrants: “Why are we having all these people from s***hole countries come here?” (referring to Haiti and African nations)….”why don’t we bring more people from countries like Norway?”

Ignoring the geopolitical implications of pissing off African countries–where China is vying for a global monopoly on precious metals, where fighting ISIS requires cooperation from African countries, where people are likely more upright and worthy than our very own president–how can we ignore the ongoing racism and cruelty of this President?

==>Here is a thoughtful question by one pundit…What was your response to Trump’s S***holes” comment? Will we be dragged into the gravitational force of going lower and lower until physical violence is the only retort? Or can we yet save ourselves?

==>And here is something you can do to respond as an American: Join me on Saturday, January 20 for the Women’s March in Chicago or in other cities (enter your zip code) that weekend. Bring your friends, spouses, family. Let us stand up for what is good and decent about our country. Bring your body, and your best (and worst) words in defense of what America stands for.

Charitable Perspectives on 2017

sun-treeAs the sun sets on 2017, you may be scrambling like me to round out your charitable donations for best tax advantage and to ensure that your best intentions for giving were satisfied this year. So this 2017 retrospective highlights groups of people who uphold American ideals and principles. They fight for you, for us, every day. Consider giving to them today…

Anti-Defamation League (ADL) One of the first things my family did following the 2016 Presidential election was turn to the ADL for tools (see table talk for families) and educational material. We had started to experience bigotry and antisemitism in our community and schools close to the election and since then in ways we had not seen before (swastikas, calling kids Jews, hail Hitler gestures, signs on bathroom doors: “For Whites Only”). Our fears in November 2016 were justified as evidenced by a rise in hate crimes in 2016 (up 26%), emboldened activity by white supremacist groups (remember the Nazi salute “Hail Trump” weeks after election day, and the Charlottesville tragedy), and a president who continually re-tweets white nationalist lies and appoints white nationalist sympathizers and champions to key positions.

Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)– As I broadened my knowledge of news and current events I began to notice how many people rely on the foundational work of the SPLC on issues of income inequality, racial justice, and civil rights. In addition to the their cases and programs they offer research and information of use to everyone. See, for example, their simple yet comprehensive piece tracking Hate in Trump’s White House.

Planned Parenthood – Meanwhile, the Republican Party’s continual attacks not just on health care for Americans, but specifically health care benefits for women including basic birth control, brought me to learn more about how Planned Parenthood provides vital health services for women, from cancer screenings to birth control and, yes, safe alternatives for abortions (and, no, those abortions are not funded by federal dollars). Also, Planned Parenthood does amazing grass-roots and advocacy work that ultimately lifts up all women’s issues, such as by getting women to advocacy days. We need to keep this organization strong on behalf of all women.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) – The ACLU is urgently relevant in today’s political and legal climate. They ramped up in 2017 to train regular people on civil rights through PeoplePower.org. They have consistently championed free speech, including for the neo-Nazis rallying in Charlottesville (though they are adjusting their policies to avoid supporting armed demonstrators in future). And they are working to protect voting rights.

National Resource Defense Council –  People I know in the EPA recommend we support national environmental organizations because the EPA is no longer positioned to protect our healthy environment now that Trump placed anti-EPA Scott Pruitt as head of the EPA. By the way, my EPA friends have been working under strained circumstances all year, so if you think you’ve got it bad at work, think again. See this Step-by-Step guide to fighting Trump’s anti-public health/environment agenda.

YMCA – Then there are American institutions like the YMCA whose mission has always been to lift people to their better selves while bridging the divides between us.

Most of these sites above are offering double or triple match on donations made today. So let’s finish the year strong and have a productive and healthy new year. Cheers!

 

A Muddy Road to Recovery after Hurricane Harvey

IMG_30681My sister’s family and their horses weathered the storm. See one pictured above on the day sunshine returned. It is a hopeful scene, which belies a whole lot of hurt still happening in Houston.

There are not a lot of words to help what happened in and near Houston. But our donations could do a lot to help people recover. If you are looking to target your donation dollars locally for immediate and long-term recovery, then I recommend the  YMCA’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund.

Also, here are some other recommendations passed to me by a friend:

The Texas Workers Relief Fund. A union-relief effort by the Texas AFL-CIO, donations are tax-deductible. The state fed has been closely coordinating with the Houston and Corpus-area central labor councils to provide material aid.

RNRN Disaster Relief Fund. Our ally the National Nurses United organizes medical relief for major disasters through this fund.

Texas DSA. DSA chapters (also allies) have been organizing both volunteers and those in need at a grassroots level. Sign up here to offer help (or ask for it) or donate directly to Houston DSA.

Coastal Bend Disaster Recovery Group Fund. If you want to donate directly for relief in the Coastal Bend towns hit directly by the hurricane.

Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. Houston’s mayor has set up this fund to assist with victims of Houston’s ongoing and increasingly dangerous flooding. Donations are tax-deductible.

The extreme enforcement policies of SB4 and ICE have put immigrant workers in increased harm’s way through the crisis. Immigrant and refugee groups such as RAICES in San Antonio are moving to get aid directly to immigrant families. Jumping in now is just the beginning.