Tag Archives: activism

In the storm

Photo credit: Wayne Lynch
Photo credit: Wayne Lynch

Fourteen years ago I was on a canoe trip in the Canadian backcountry with my grandmother, my parents, my husband, and our infant son.

*Note: This is not as weird as it seems. My grandmother was Ontario’s first licensed female canoe guide. My father practically grew up in a canoe, and so did I. All of us trekking out into the wilderness is just what we do.

Anyway…

We’d set up camp and pitched a tarp when a huge storm rolled in. I put our son in his bright yellow rain suit onesie (yes, they make these), and the rest of us pulled on our rain gear. As the storm intensified, we gathered under the tarp. The campsite began to flood and we huddled together with my son in the middle of our circle. Rain sluiced down our backs and puddled around the high patch of ground we were gathered upon.

My grandmother joked about us being like a herd of musk ox, who gather their young into the middle of the herd for protection, and indeed we were just like musk ox weathering a storm or the threat of predators.

This is us now. In the storm. The biggest, worst storm I have seen in my years on this planet. I won’t lie—I’m scared. I have never felt this vulnerable or this disappointed in humanity. My belief that most people are fundamentally good is shaken, deeply. But I keep thinking about that storm and about my herd.

Moving forward, we must be musk ox—big, powerful, badass, and working in unison. We must gather together with the most vulnerable in the center. Our future is the young people of today—the queer kids, the Jewish kids, the kids of color, the kids new to this country, the girls who don’t want to be groped, the boys who want to be kind. We have to keep them safe and also teach them how to deal with this kind of fundamental threat to our humanity.

So shake the snow off your shoulders, people, and circle up.

 

 

Speaking Up

Voice.

Voice is connection.
Voice is speaking our own truth.
Voice is the driver of our narratives.

silenced terror large

After being raped, Maya Angelou didn’t speak for years. In an interview with Terry Gross, she told how she found her voice so she could love poetry.

The #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign blew up the internet because stories are the most profound way for us to connect across differences. We need to hear the voices of those who experience life outside of our own private bubbles.

My son overheard a friend making a comment, presumably in jest, about killing himself. He could have brushed off the throwaway comment, but instead he came to his parents. And we went to the boy’s parents. And the boy is still mad.

The recent attack in California and its anti-woman underpinnings have prompted many women to speak out about the sexism they face every day.

Voice.

The imperative is to find it and use it.
Use it big and use it small.
Never go mute.

I wish…

Yesterday, a writer friend and I were leaving a restaurant and our very young male server said, “Thanks, Girls.”

We paused at the door, looking at each other. “Did he just call us girls?”

We laughed and walked out. The easy thing. But I wish I’d turned around and gently, very gently, reminded him about respect. It would have been a small thing. A small response for a small ignorance.

But I would have used my voice.
And he might have faced the world differently from then on.