Hope kinetic

I am slowly recovering from Roger’s wrenching loss on Sunday. In all seriousness, I was just crushed. What an incredible match, a fact that in some ways made the tiebreaks that much harder to swallow. Amidst all the ugly news of late (the past couple years), R’s being in the finals was such pure joy, and I so wanted to see him hold that trophy aloft for the ninth time. Alas.

Last night, I had the profound fortune and pleasure of attending a rally sponsored by my House rep, Jamie Raskin (he is awesome), and co-hosted by none other than Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. AOC! It was in support of Rep Raskin’s organization, Democracy Summer, which he started a decade ago, and the importance and spirit of political organizing. I love that there’s an historic educational component too- political science, change, and so forth.

The event was held at a local civic building and was to start at 7, so I got in line at 6 and was about 50 deep. The crowd was wonderfully diverse: young, old, in the middle, straight, gay, black, white, Latinx, immigrant, American born. Our energy and anticipation were palpable despite the pro-life protesters moving ever closer with their six-foot tall graphic signs and false claims that women who chose to have an abortion are likely to end up drug addicted and/or suicidal. Most of us simply ignored them and talked with one another instead. One man tried mightily to have a real discussion; his irritated wife kept dragging him up in line and encouraging him to stop because he was making zero headway.

When the doors opened, people scurried in to get spots as near the stage as possible. Finally, at 7:30, Jamie and AOC emerged, and the crowd of 700+ went nuts. I am an enormous fan of Jamie’s intellect, passion for representing and supporting his constituents, and belief in what good politics can do. Same for AOC, and her magnetism is undeniable, y’all. She is smart, engaging, gorgeous, and absolutely what politics needs more of.

Also in attendance were Bob Moses, THE Bob Moses of SNCC and Civil Rights activism renown, he who helped pull back the Cotton Curtain of racial apartheid in American, who coined the phrase “one person, one vote,” and Danny Glover who I think is Bob’s friend and supporter. Bob is a legend, and as a complete aside, both men have the dearest of faces. Seeing them was like getting two hugs.

Jamie gave a wonderful opening speech about his family history of political involvement and activism and then introduced AOC not only as a colleague but also as his vice chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.

AOC gave a thoughtful, rousing address about where we are as a country right now. It is her belief that we are picking up where the Civil Rights movement left off. “America has always been the story of the efforts of some to advance the rights of others while others work to advance the rights of a few.” It is the duality, the many-the few, that essentially defines us and our history.

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In referencing the last book Dr. King wrote before his assassination, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, she said that the only way to move from chaos (our present) to community (hopefully our future) is to move forward via organization. If there is no struggle, there is no progress. This is hope kinetic. “We are characters in America’s story- who do you want to be? What side do you want to be on, now and when history looks back?”

I urge all of you to ask yourselves those questions. It is my dearest hope that most of us are decent people who don’t hate different others as vehemently as it seems. Who won’t throw our pluralism and democratic promise under the bus because you really can’t accept who others love, what color they are, what choices they make when it concerns their OWN bodies and not yours. Does it really matter who a person in another state is sleeping with? Why must you demand that everyone live within the singular, small worldview that you prefer? Isn’t the pursuit of happiness a virtue that our founding fathers enshrined? Are not most of us immigrants to these shores? People who came in search of better?

For the first time in a while last night, I felt hope. Not from the hateful things being said to those of us waiting patiently in line by those who’d come to evangelize and demean. But from the efforts of a man whose family has fought the good fight for generations and from a member of The Squad whose mother cleaned houses and whose father died at just 48 and who worked 18 hours a day organizing and bartending to help keep the family home and STILL wore through her shoes canvassing in the Bronx. Who did what everyone said she couldn’t and wouldn’t. Who once here has been celebrated, yes. But also treated with such racist, bigoted disdain and cruelty yet who still rises with hope and determination every day.

Those two represent our future. Those in favor of LGBTQ rights and Black Lives Matter and Choice and ending Citizens United. That is our future.

What character do you play in our nation’s story?

March For Our Lives

I don't even know where the twelve days since I returned from Louisiana have gone but they've involved moving out of our house for a week so that our floors could be refinished, a school day, some delays, Tom being out of town for three days, Oliver's birthday and parties, moving back into our house, the kitchen being largely completed, my parents coming, and, today, participating in the huge and extraordinarily moving March For Our Lives here in DC. So please, apologies for any lack of coherence and polish in this post.

Last night, as Mom, a dear family friend from Louisiana, and I made our protest signs, Oliver eagerly joined us to help with coloring and duct tape application. Earnestly, and almost as an aside, he said, "I don't want to die." Our hearts just broke. THIS is why we marched today, because too many children die or fear dying by guns. Too many people do. Every day. Gun violence is a public health crisis, a detestable scourge in this country. We can do something, and that something is NOT arming teachers.

Mom, Dad, Susan, and I started today by attending a pre-March rally in Silver Spring hosted by Jamie Raskin, state senator from Maryland's 8th. Rep Raskin is such a fine leader, one of the many reasons I'm proud to call MD home. At the rally, we heard and were fired up by the Reverend William Barber (amazing orator and person; listen to his speech to us here), MD's wonderful Attorney General, Brian Frosh, former MD governor, Martin O'Malley, some student leaders from Montgomery County (MoCo) Students for Gun Control, and Mr. Raskin himself. It should be noted that Maryland has enacted some of the strictest gun control measures in the country!

Barber speaking against the theological malpractice of those "who say so much about what God says so little, and so little about what God says so much."

Barber speaking against the theological malpractice of those "who say so much about what God says so little, and so little about what God says so much."

We then boarded buses to Union Station and from there walked toward the chants and cheers of an ever-growing crowd blanketing Pennsylvania and Constitution Avenues from 3rd to 12th Streets (with much spilling over). 

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I think each of us felt repeated waves of emotion wash over us for hours on end. Listening to young leaders like Edna Chavez, Emma Gonzalez, eleven-year-old Naomi Wadler, Matt Post (a MoCo Students for Gun Control leader), and so many inspiring others was profound. I urge you to click on each of their names and watch or read the clips I've shared. 

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We appreciated others' signs, we marveled at the number of attendees (some estimates put the DC march at 800,000), and I considered how this March felt similar to and different from all the others I've attended. Most essentially, we hoped that today and what today represents marks the start of real change for a safer, saner tomorrow. 

Preach!

Preach!

Check out this compilation of photos from marches around the country and world! I'm so grateful for the students leading this charge and for all who marched today.

photo by my friend, Dorothy

photo by my friend, Dorothy