Yesterday morning as I was leaving the house I ran into a neighbor. She's white, her husband's Black, and they have a 3-year-old son and a 5-year-old daughter. When the woman woke her daughter hours earlier and told her the outcome of the election, her daughter immediately asked, "Are they going to take Daddy away?"
Now here we were, a couple of white women—and another white woman friend of hers—standing on the street full of raging energy.
It's time to do. So let's start with that.
Do what's doable first. Speak up calmly, positively, and compassionately at work, at home, and anywhere else about what you'd like to see happen. Not what you don't want. What you do want. Start from the assumption that everybody is trying their best and wants to do better. This is blue Seattle, after all. Yet we all know we have to move this dial, and become a model for the nation. We have to push it.
We are going to push it.
I was at the dinner table with my three kids and husband last night when I got up to get a glass of water and my phone let me know about the shooting downtown.
My first instinct as a parent is to protect my kids. It kicks in before I can even think.
But I'll be following my second instinct. My first instinct was, let's say it, a white-lady one, one that comes from knowing safety and not wanting to lose it and being able to personally afford staying home because I'm afraid that my kids might be exposed to something bad that takes place adjacent to a protest.
I could hear my own parents' voices and the voices of my friends' white parents when I was a child, well-meaning, but so tragically and terribly afraid of the wrong things: It's dangerous out there. We don't go out there.
I couldn't get my kids together in time to protest last night, but we'll be out there doing soon and consistently. My kids are already asking to participate. Today my introverted daughter is planning to take a stand against Trump at a Veteran's Day assembly at her school, after she considered just sitting down during the national anthem as an act of protest. Rather than not doing something, she'll be taking a stand by holding a sign she made while sitting down. My son regretted walking out of a school conversation about the election yesterday with two African American friends, and is determined to figure out why they left, why he left, and how he can stay in and stand up next time. "You have to face your problems head-on," he told my daughter when she said she foresees college in any other country besides this one. "You can't run from them."
Last night we talked about the fact that we are going to have to stand on the lines in various ways in the days to come. And that yes, that means with our voices and our bodies, and that yes, our voices are imperfect and shaky and our bodies are soft—but yes.
Basically, the fact is that the safer you are right now, the more you are needed out there. I say this to myself as much as to anyone else, so don't get all don't-guilt-me about it. There's no guilt here. No despair. No getting distracted.
This morning at the pool two older white ladies, striding naked through the locker room as they showered and dressed, spoke brilliantly. They said they refuse to live in the bubble.
My fellow white ladies, let's fucking inspire some people.
One of us didn't make the presidency this time, and yes, the implications are unbelievably misogynistic. But while we may not have equity, we do have power, and we know what fear feels like. We are motivated. We have to use it. We have to ask ourselves, our men—especially our men—and even our children for more, and we cannot stop. And we have to love each other through it.
I say, WE MOVE TOGETHER IF WE AS WHITE WOMEN INSIST IT. I know this because I know how fucking electric the white women in my life can be.
All of us at The Stranger are ready to support and sometimes lead, with our doubled-down journalism, our political tactics, our love in the form of humor, sexual joy, and plain old fun, and anything else we can come up with. We in Seattle are the resistance, as Dan Savage reminded us yesterday during an editorial meeting in which the man cried. Twice.
In Seattle we are going to tell our public officials and servants—our mayor, our city attorney, our city council members, everyone—that we are no longer bubble-blind. That we demand they resist hateful federal action.
That even the safest among us feel the urgency and will make them feel it if we have to.
I'm reminded of the segregationists in the South, who fought at the local level to keep African Americans down against the feds. We are on the other side, and we are going to steal some of their tactics for good if we have to.
Where Bull Connor had armed police riding with him against the new integration laws in Alabama, we may only have each other. Our soft bodies and nervous sign-holdings. We, the citizens, united and arisen, even while trembling. For this will be an uprising.
My husband reminded me this morning of how political change happens. Somebody sits in the back room with the politicians and convinces them of the rightness of the cause first. In blue Seattle, we need to continue to do that. We need always to know that Mayor Ed Murray and Council Member Whomever believes in the cause, in their hearts. Because they will need their convictions, too, in the darkest moments. They will be on the line, too. And then, once we know they believe, the next step is on us.
In the famous story from before World War II, when mighty labor and civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph had his behind-the-scenes heart-to-heart with Franklin Delano Roosevelt, FDR said, "You've convinced me. Now go out and make me do it."
No more talking. Make them do it. Help each other do it. Don't get distracted and don't get divided.