Since November I've started and stopped many drafts about how I feel about the current state of American politics.
I'm mad. I'm angry. I'm pissed off. And I've been mad, angry, and pissed off since I was 7 and told God had made a mistake giving such a brain to a girl as it would be wasted.
And as the weeks have gone by, I've gotten madder. Angrier. More pissed off than I have ever been before.
I've battled against conventions whispering then screaming in my head: Never discuss Money, Politics, or Religion in public or polite conversation.
And I'm tired. Tired of being quiet. Tired of waiting politely for my turn. Tired of being frustrated that a world where all humans have the same rights to life (health, food, and shelter), liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is nothing more than a pipe dream or a hope.
So I'm going to stop skirting around the subject--the elephant in the room.
I'm going to talk politics. Today and in the future. In person, on social media, and here.
I'm going to share how we're trying to raise a daughter committed to taking a stand.
First let me say as a Polish Italian American Jew, I am incredibly privileged. I realize and own that privilege.
Growing up my family stressed that we had a duty to stand up and raise our voices when we saw discrimination. They emphasized how recently both Italians and Irish had been "black." They stressed we should embrace our experience and work to change how others are treated. Being discriminated against didn't give us the right to do the same to others.
That meant I got beaten up a lot as a kid. I've never been anything other than petite (and until my cousins taught me how to fight dirty), wasn't able to give as good as I got. But I didn't back down, and rarely, if ever, considered what if any personal cost to me would occur.
Equal Opportunities and Rights for Women
Many stands that I've made were never known by the person I made them for. I've declined part of a raise to adjust the pay of a female on my team. I've threatened to quit if my team didn't get recognized for their work and treated with respect versus being second class citizens to developers. As I gave notice at one company I shared documented instances of discriminatory hiring and employment practices so that other women might have opportunities in the future that I'd been denied.
So before I could vote, I showed up to support Mondale-Ferraro--I spent the entire summer before my sophomore year in high school, matching volunteers with opportunities, helping pass out street signs, and directing delegates to the Democratic National Convention where to go. I talked to everyone I knew about the Equal Rights Amendment and why we needed it.
Then both were defeated--two gut punches.
Teachers explained the world wasn't ready yet. Be patient. My time would come.
Then Hilary Rodham Clinton ran for president. A flawed candidate but one who stood for healthcare for all, women's rights, and immigrants' rights.
I dared to hope again. Maybe the world was ready.
It wasn't. A misogynist was elected.
#WomensMarch in San Francisco
In January we showed up in the cold and the rain and we marched. We marched down Market street in San Francisco.
Why did it matter that we showed up?
To show we won't sit back and let discrimination happen. We marched because people of color, women, the chronically ill or differently abled, LGBTQi, and immigrants all deserve life, health, and happiness.
To emphasize that wealth is not simply a matter of just working harder and lack of it is not a sign of lacking morals.
To state that we will not let hate become the new normal.
Immigration Rights #NoMuslimBan
I'm the descendent of Polish and Italian immigrants. I'm 25% Polish American and 25% Italian American. The remaining 50% is a mix of Irish, Scottish, English, German, and a few other nationalities.
My Polish ancestors fled religious persecution to the United States through Ellis Island in 1905. My Italian ancestors fled Sassoferrato in 1909, also coming through Ellis Island. My Italian great grandmother, who was elementary school age, almost died on the voyage.
One thing my roots had in common was that the Irish and Italians weren't considered white when they first arrived in the United States.
- Irish weren't considered white until the mid-19th century.
- Italians weren't considered white until after "The Great Arrival," which occurred from 1880 to 1920 when 3 million Italians immigrated to the US.
"There were two races in America then: black and white. Italians were thrust into a country where being one and not the other meant the difference between finding economic success, safety, and acceptance."
I know this fight.
Rather than stand up, those who were here first and afraid of losing what they had, remained silent or worse outcast those newly immigrating to America.
Despite being white and privileged, I've been bloodied before.
I challenged classmates who chose friends solely based on the color of their skin. And I can do it again.
When Muslims were being detained at SFO, I watched Gates while my husband went to the airport to join the protest. And I explained to Gates why we march. Why we protest.
Resources for Teaching Preschoolers and Kindergarteners about Diversity
Bias. Bigotry. Prejudice. Racism. Sexism.
Big words for 3 to 6 year olds.
If you're curious how aware your little one is when it comes to discrimination, I found these two essays informative:
- Lee, Theresa V. "Racism and Young Children: What Does the Research Say?" (PDF)
- Derman-Sparks, Louise and Carol Tanaka Higa and Bill Sparks."Children, Race, and Racism: How Race Awareness Develops" (PDF)
If you're looking for age appropriate lessons, check out Teaching Tolerance. I'm currently working through variations of these lessons to help put current events into context for Gates:
- Teaching Tolerance - Art and Social Justice - What is a Portrait?
(PreK to K | Grades 1 to 2 | Grades 3 to 5)
- Teaching Tolerance - Who Is an Immigrant
(Grades 1 to 2 | Grades 3 to 5)
- Teaching Tolerance - Anti-Racism Activity
(Grades 1 to 2 | Grades 3 to 5)
And we've also added 12 books to our library that feature women taking a stand for civil rights, women's rights, and worker's rights. I included stories about Harriet Tubman (A Picture Book of Harriet Tubman (Picture Book Biography)(*affiliate link)) and Sojourner Truth (A Picture Book of Sojourner Truth (Picture Book Biography)(*affiliate link)) because I felt it was important for her to see true female heroes--"people's whose first impulse is to act selflessly."
Credits: All layouts designed by and images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.
DISCLOSURE: This post contains an affiliate link, followed by (*affiliate link). I feature products that I own or that I am considering purchasing. All opinions presented are my own.
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