Sunday, November 20, 2016

Three Reasons I'm Wearing a Safety Pin

phone banking for Hillary in happier, saner times...
There has been a lot of cross talk about safety pins in the post election whirlwind. First conceived by Britons concerned about the anti-immigrant/anti-muslim backlash after the Brexit vote this summer, the safety pin idea jumped the pond after 11/8/16. The concept is simple: wear a safety pin to show vulnerable people (refugees, immigrants, people of color, LGBTQ folks, etc) that they are "safe" with you. It's a small act of solidarity and symbolism, and it's a whole lot easier than wearing a full length dress with the Declaration of Independence written on it.

BUT... some folks pushed back, like isn't this just another lazy way of showing 'solidarity' without having to actually DO anything risky or self-denying like protesting or escorting women at Planned Parenthood or boycotting Macys or something. Is this the ice bucket challenge of the year?

Well, I think, Yes. And. That ice bucket challenge did actually lead to new medical breakthroughs and treatments...

I've been wearing a safety pin on my clothes or jacket every day since Election Day. Here is why:

1. It reminds me of who I am. It can be so easy to get distracted by real life- by laundry piles and trip slips and grocery lists. It is fun to think about pie recipes or Christmas decorations. I wear the pin to give me a little mental pinch- don't forget. Don't forget that you are a smart woman, a Democrat, a Unitarian-Universalist, a mother of two beautiful African-American children, a New Yorker, and a teacher of children of special needs. I wear the pin to keep me focused on doing the vital work of being fully present in my life.

2. It might give someone else a sign that they are safe with me. If even one vulnerable person is felt held in love by my little pin, then it is worth it. If even one of the parents of my Muslim students feels a little bit relieved upon seing the pin, it's worth it. If a grocery clerk or a postal worker or a neighbor or a kid on the bus feels a tiny bit more ok seeing that pin, it's worth it.

3. It reminds me that THIS IS NOT NORMAL. This election was not normal. The outcome is not normal. (I'm not prone to believe conspiracy theories, but it does seem like some Russion interference happened on 11/8, and that is both bad and really, really not ok.) This "transition period" is not normal. The President elect holding meetings with both foreign leaders and foreign businessmen and Neo-Nazis in his gold plated penthouse. NOT NORMAL. A President Elect tweeting nonsense and settling fraud lawsuits for 25 million dollars... NOT NORMAL. Most of the time I can walk around my life distracted by my to-do lists and grocery shop and worry about our budget. I live in my lovely "bubble" and I'm not going to apologize for it. BUT, the world right now is reeling from this terrible election, and the pin reminds me to stay grounded and stay sharp.

Do you wear a pin? Why? or Why not?

catching up - Ups and Downs

what's been happening with the Injera Mama Family this year...

UP: We started a school year without too much drama this year!
DOWN: We have really, really slacked off in our injera and wat eating. Like really. There's a whole lot of pizza and tacos and fries happening.

UP: Lily is doing really well in school this year! (PHEW)
DOWN: This is the last year Daniel will be in elementary school. I'm feeling a lot of feelings about his upcoming transition to Middle School. gulp.

UP: We refinanced our mortage!
DOWN: We will spend all the extra money on fixing our broken tile floors (someone is going to lose a toe)

UP: We traveled to California for a family wedding. Lily got to be Flower Girl, which was, in her words, THE BEST DAY OF HER LIFE. She had so much fun going down the aisle they had her do it twice.
UP: We got to see my cousins for the first time in 5 years, which was awesome.

UP: I started a new teaching position in the same school- self contained Special Ed! It's amazing!
DOWN: I now spend 1-2 hours every night working, or feeling guilty for not working, or worrying about my extra-special kids, or worrying about if all my worry and work is hurting my own children.  More worry and more work, in a nutshell.

UP: We are pretty confident that our Ethiopian family is healthy and stable right now.
DOWN: Ethiopia is not so stable or safe at the moment, so we won't get to see our beloved family in 2017. Hoping for 2018. Hoping and hoping.

UP: I turned 40! Hooray for all the giving a @#$* I don't do anymore!
DOWN: I turned 40. yikes. I should really start eating better and seeing doctors and stuff.

UP: Took my daughter to phone bank and then vote for (what we hoped would be) the First Woman President.

DOWN: Election Day 2016. sigh.

And how are you?!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Dear Hillary,

Secretary Clinton
Office of Hillary Rodham Clinton,
120 West 45th Street, Suite 2700,
New York, NY 10036.

November 13, 2016

Dear Hillary,

Thank you.

Thank you for running for President. Thank you for your decades of service to our country.  And, I'm sorry.  I'm sorry that you didn't win the Presidency, because you sure would have made a great one.

We took our 6 year old daughter and our 10 year old son to vote with us. We live in an African-American neighborhood in Brooklyn, and the line to vote snaked through the entire first floor of our school polling site. Everyone was cheerful and patient and looking forward to voting for the first woman President.

When we came home my daughter pulled out some paper and her markers and said, I'm going to write to Hillary and ask her to change the laws so I can become President someday too!

My children were born in Ethiopia, and adopted by us at ages 5 (my son) and 15 months (his sister). My daughter is like you- fiercely strong, determined, energetic, smart and passionate. Who knows, maybe the laws will be changed, and my African princess will ascend to the highest office.

I know my daughter will do something amazing with her life, and a small portion of that will be due to seeing you, a strong woman, run for President.

I know I have been inspired by this election. I've been inspired to speak my mind more freely. I've learnt the value of my vote, and to work for everyone to have that amazing gift (and to use it!)

So thank you, Madame Secretary. I hope you are enjoying a very, very well deserved luxury vacation in some warm and beautiful place. And after that, I look forward to seeing what amazing work you will do, 'cause I know- you're not done yet.

Thank you, and God Bless you.

- Becky 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

All American Birthday Party

This summer we went to a birthday party for one of my son's friends. The friend is a smiling, sweet girl with golden ringlets. She walks around the world like a Disney princess and is destined to break many, many hearts (hopefully not Daniel's!)

The birthday party was at our local YMCA. We splashed in the pool and then ate pizza and pasta and sliders with dripping hair in the rec room. The kids played silly games for silly prizes and then cut into a huge hot pink cake and were sent home with a giant goody bag of candy.

Sounds like any birthday party you've ever been to, right? And it was, it was absolutely perfect.

Because it was full of Americans- the beautiful blond birthday girl. And her gorgeous Spanish mother, and her sweet abuela, and her doting gay uncle, and her neighbors, two moms, and her curly haired mixed race cousins, and my African children, her friends. Every shade of human was there. Every level of ability to speak English, every kind of immigrant status, every kind of gender and sexuality and ages and faiths too. All having a blast playing freeze dance and eating pink frosted cake.

I remember thinking, way back on that hot July day, that THIS is the America I want to live in. THIS is the America my husband and I brought our Ethiopian children to live in. This is the American I love.

Well, apparently a whole bunch of my fellow white people don't like the multi-cultural, multi-faith, multi-lingual country we've built. So they voted a racist, sexist, hateful man to be our next President.

I'm having a very hard time with this, and I know a lot of you are too. It's hard to imagine, especially for those of us who enjoy multi-racial, multi-faith and multi-cultural families and communities, how much other people hate us. It's hard to imagine just how many people in America hate and fear us.

This is a terrifying time, for so many reasons. We don't know which of the many crazy campaign promises Trump made he will keep. We don't know who of the many crazy, hateful people who have campaigned with him will get cabinet positions. We don't know if the Republican Congress will go along with the Trump agenda or push back.  We don't know how many "nice guys" voted for Trump out of Republican loyalty or misguided economic interests, and how many people voted for him because he is a racist.

There are so many lies and so much crazy. The one thing we do know is that there are a whole lot more work to do. Like many people who believe in a diverse, inclusive and respectful America, I've been woken up. My sweet bubble was shattered on election night. So here I am again, at my little computer with my little blog that I had all but abandoned (it's been a very busy season in our lives, and I found my well run dry)

We use the weapons and the tools we have. I have some words and I have a tiny little platform upon which to hang them up. I hope that if you believe in justice and fairness and respect for all you will pick up whatever tools you have and use them to build a better America - in the next 2 years, in the next 4 years... Use your phone to call your representatives. Use your voice to protest and stand up for those who are vulnerable. Use your fingers to type and your hands to heal and protect. Use your wallet to support organizations that defend your values and ideals.

And above all, use your heart. Love as hard as you can. It is the only thing that can defeat so much hate.

In the future we will hopefully build, I really want to invite you to a birthday party- a tan and pink and brown, laughing in all the languages, praying in all the faiths, holding all the hands, all-American, pink-frosted cake birthday party!