From 16 to about 50 years old, my mom loved being involved in politics. It was her pride and identity – serving causes she believed in.
Part 1 – Memories of my Mother
I remember her telling the story of being sixteen in Ohio and going to one party headquarters. They smiled patronizingly and told her how cute it was she wanted to get involved. Then she went to the other party and one of the main guys enthusiastically welcomed her to the work, telling her how great it was when young people get involved. She became a lifelong democrat after that.
Her other favorite story was of moving to Utah. She was in a car full of women from church. They asked her what she did for a hobby and she said politics, but was sad to say she was giving it up because there were no democrats in Utah. All the women started laughing. Before my mom could feel embarrassed, the driver asked Mom if she recognized her. Mom didn’t, of course, and she introduced herself as the wife of a democratic congressman of Utah.
Mom collected political buttons as she worked the political scene in Utah, managing campaigns and serving causes.
Eventually, some thirty years later, politics, another’s cruel ambition, and her own health soured it all. She was still reeling from the ousting as a simple admin assistant at a county democratic committee office when she died eight years later at 58.
Part 2 – My political awakening
I’ve never had much interest in getting involved and being political. I was registered independent for a decade until my state removed that as an option and I realized being left unaffiliated would exclude my from the primaries.
But even then, voting was the extent of my politics. Beyond that I was just as happy to serve in education, ensuring the disenfranchised would have the sword of learning to fight for their rights, a good career, and their own happiness. From government teacher, to principal data consultant, to program director I’ve gone. A decade in and I feel like I’m barely scratching the surface of realizing my dreams for the experiences I want for the young people of the city where I serve.
Then this last year happened and it seemed like everything decent in the world had been thrown out the window. At the same time I’ve been learning on the ground about the extensive needs of those in poverty, I’ve been watching those services vilified and the black people of the cities dehumanized.
Add that to a renewed normalizing of the objectification of the female sex and the demonizing of truth and the press that protects it. I forget the challenges women still face because I’m in a field where woman are unrestricted in ourgreatness. This last year reminded me of how it was being one of two ladies among eighty computer scientists in classes at college.
The environmentalist and innovator in me is also reawakened. I’ve watched a cabinet get packed with fossil fuels and financiers, pillars to the golden oligarchs of the 20th century. Backwards industries. The antichrists of innovation.
Part 3 – Marching for better
So for the first time in my life, I stood up on Saturday and marched. I wanted to be a part of the crashing wave, rising up to break the tide taking us in every wrong direction.
I told DH I want the March on Washington to be my first step in a direction, not just standing up to stretch, then sitting back down again.
Awesomely then today I was at a baby shower, still thinking how I could get involved, and I met the VP of an activist committee in a neighboring county where I hope to move my family in a few years. She gave me her card and told me to get involved.
I will. Maybe someday down the line I’ll even run for office.
For Aria, for my students, for my country, for the future. I think I need to do more. We all do.
Lest I look down one day and find empty the social toolbox I rely on to turn things around for my students.
Lest I look over one day and see my daughter belittled out of a career and position of influence of her choosing.
Lest I look up one day and see my beautiful world crumbling.
We all can march together for a better world.