Tuesday, July 26, 2016

What a School Lockdown Feels Like

What a School Lockdown Feels Like

At the time of my ill-fitting classroom stint, I was so busy hating the School to Prison Pipeline that it never even occurred to me to hate guns, but looking back, they were always in the background of my anxiety, hanging over my head with the other million things that hang over teachers’ heads.
I had a class full of third graders the first time I experienced a lockdown. It was almost lunch so I had that next-level needing-to-pee that teachers know so well. We were just getting ready to line up when the announcement came. They said there had been gun activity in the area. They told us that we were supposed to lock our doors, but mine didn’t lock. I’d never been trained for the proper procedure, so I sat the kids all down and told them to be as quiet as they could so we could be safe if we needed to hear directions.
I pictured what I came to always picture in those situations: the bullet coming through the glass and hitting me, or hitting them. I never forgot that I while at that moment I was trapped, on a daily basis I was choosing to be there, and the kids were not so lucky. Poverty would keep many of them in an unsafe neighborhood, the law and a racist system would keep them in unsafe schools that violently opposed their individuality and development. They might someday know a life without the penny taste of adrenaline in their mouths, but the odds were stacked against them.
We sat crisscross-applesauce at the back of the room, as removed from the window glass as possible. They were preternaturally calm and docile, and I had an uncharacteristic command over myself that I can only attain at times of deepest crisis. We played Whisper-Down-the-Lane and The Quiet Game until the lockdown ended and it was time to line up for lunch.
I experienced maybe ten school lockdowns, for all kinds of reasons—a lost kid, a panicking parent, mostly they were unexplained and I never asked because I didn’t want to know. But the helpless bullet-is-coming-for us feeling did not fully go away. Those left me with an unshakeable knowledge of the vulnerability of all life, but especially the lives of African American children. The confluence of guns, poverty, and racism put the lives of my students at risk every day.

I understand, in a cursory Hamilton-infused way why we have the Second Amendment, but the cost of the way it is currently interpreted is much too high. Those kids, those classrooms, along with the children I currently serve at the library, are part of the driving force behind why I feel so urgent about this election, so moved by John Lewis and other who stand up for gun control and against injustice. Enough.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Upset by the RNC? Here's How You Can Help.

I haven't followed the RNC much, but I know enough to feel the mob mentality and white supremacy bearing down on us. It's easy to feel helpless in the face of bullying evil, but it's even easier to do something. If you aren't in Philly, go to https://www.hillaryclinton.com/events/ and type in your zip code.

If you are in Philly, here's a nice note from our local organizer. You can reach her at kfitch@pavictory2016.org

"Hello Faithful Volunteers!

I wanted to let you know about several upcoming events where we need help. I have three voter registration events taking place out in the community this weekend. After the weekend and during the convention, we want our office to be full of action. We are scheduling 3-hour shifts where volunteers can help out at the office here in Mt Airy, learn how to do voter registration, and then go out and get forms filled out to bring back in! There are also some open shifts for helping out as a greeter (checking credentials and guiding guests) at the convention if you are interested. Please see below for all details!

Voter Registration Events:

Saturday, July 23, 2016
9:00 AM - 1:00 PM
ACME, 7010 Germantown Ave (Inside)
Need 1-2 volunteers for 11am-1pm shift

11:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Parkway Central Library, 1901 Vine St
2 volunteers needed for both shifts, 11am - 1pm1pm - 3pm

Sunday, July 24, 2016
1:30 - 4:30 PM
Parkway Central Library, 1901 Vine St
1-2 volunteers needed for all or part of event

Office Shifts:

7133 Germantown Ave

Monday, July 25 - Thursday, July 29

Four 3-hour shifts available each day at the following times:

9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
12:00 PM - 3:00 PM
3:00 PM - 6:00 PM
6:00 PM - 9:00 PM

*You are more than welcome, even encouraged, to sign up for multiple shifts!

DNC Access Events:

Wells Fargo Center
3601 S Broad St

Monday, July 25 - Thursday, July 29

Two 4-hour shifts available each day at the following times:

3:00 PM - 7:00 PM
7:00 PM - 11:00 PM

Please let me know how you would like to participate! Also, keep me informed if you would like to get set-up for phone banking at home, if we have not already been in touch. 

Thank you!!"


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Don’t Let Bernie’s Legacy Be Voter Apathy

Last night I went to the most gorgeously inclusive poetry event. All races, ethnicities, genders and orientations were welcome. The crowd skewed young, but all ages were present. The only thing you couldn’t be was engaged with the election process as anything other than a detractor. Though the event’s organizer encouraged me to carry around my voter registration clipboard and the venue was hosting a “Get Out the Vote!” themed art show, I soon sensed the crowd’s vibe and heard enough Bern catchphrases in poems to know I should put my clipboard away.

A straight-presenting, white, middle class, less-likely-to-be-harmed by-a-Trump presidency poet introduced a poem by saying, “So Hillary Clinton will be in town next month,” and I was one of a few lonely woohoos before she launched into a poem that gave me A. some good insight into Honduras and B. the assurance that I was the one kind of person not welcome in that magically diverse room.

I’ve never found the spoken word community particularly hospitable to feminism, but this wasn’t that. Just as I had during primary season, I felt hated for being part of the so-called establishment. Since the causes I’m in politics to fight for (reproductive rights, racial justice, LGBTQ+ rights, voting rights) are pretty damn revolutionary, I’m sick to fucking death of that assessment.

I’m sure that many of these young detractors will still vote, and even if they don’t, they’ll be helping us make more justice with their writing and their demonstrating and their being. But I’m angry that the Sanders campaign’s “rigged system” rhetoric and adoption of decades of Republican smear campaigns may have given young people a sense of learned helplessness that intentionally or unintentionally takes some of their power away. I’m livid at the idea that Sanders is not helping these young folks he so inspired earlier this year to continue feeling part of the election process.

We, the Democratic Party, need young people to push and protest and hold us to better standards. We need to hold all of our candidates accountable. And yes, the system IS rigged, but we need you to vote and call and canvass and help us make it better, fairer, more inclusive. Hillary’s platform is one that everyone can be proud of. No “lesser of two evils.” No “straight outta options.” 2016 is about love and kindness versus bigotry and hate. I’m guessing my woohooing will be less lonely in November.