Alright, get ready for the cliched New Year’s post! I have always loved the sense of renewal that a new year brings, and this year is no exception. It was delightful to wake up with 2016 behind me and the proverbial clean slate stretching out ahead waiting to be etched with new and better things. However, this year has also got me in a more reflective state, looking back over the year that passed.
It feels strange to realize that while I personally accomplished so much in 2016 (have I mentioned how great it is to be able to say that I am a TEACHER?!?!), I am also very much in tune with my generations’ current tone of abjection, objection, and dejection after the year that passed. In general I am pragmatic and optimistic and easily roll on after setbacks, or at least manage to stay sane and above the fray while others cluck about the sky crashing down. My ability to stay practical and positive is something I consider a strength, but the last few months especially have tested my easy-going mettle.
My sense of pragmatism has kept me on the political sidelines for most of my adult life. I believe in the value of working within a system to create change, and have never really felt the need to do much more than stay informed and keep doing what I feel is the right thing. I thought that I was okay with things after the recent election cycle. I didn’t cry or recluse or anything like that. I moved forward, like I always do. But now, sitting here on the edge of 2017 some of my inner lefty feminist steam is starting to build pressure and crack my pragmatic shell, and I think that is a good thing. I have been practical to a point of being very nearly aloof and apolitical for too long. I thought I was okay with things, but I’m really not. I am damned disappointed with the current social, political, and global outlook. It’s fucking frustrating.
Some things I’m feeling right now…
As a woman, the results of the 2016 US election are upsetting. I am a feminist, to my core. My feminism is something I don’t often articulate publicly, but 2017 is the time. Mostly, I believe in a woman’s right to choose. Women should have the right to choose to have a career, or not. Women should have the right to choose if, when, and how they would like to have children. Women should have the right to choose their parking spot, running path, seat on public transit, or other means of taking up space without fear of harassment or assault. Women should have the right to choose how they present themselves (clothing, make-up, etc) in those public spaces, without fear of harassment or assault, and without risking being blamed for any harassment or assault that might happen to coincide with those choices. Women should have the right to choose their romantic, marital, and sexual partners. Women should have the right to choose how many or how few romantic, marital, or sexual partners they have without fear of ridicule.
As a teacher of students in poverty, immigrant students, and students of color, the results of the 2016 US election are incredibly threatening. The youth I teach had no real voice in this election, and we failed them. My students are incredibly bright, resilient, strong young people, but I wonder daily how much the ignorance and hatred they are confronted with drags on their spirits. I wonder how they will cope with coming of age during the next administration. I wonder if there is anything I can do about it.
With all this and more weighing on my mind as 2016 came to a close, I decided that 2017 is the year to do something about it. I worked as a youth soccer coach the last couple of years, and the company I worked for always had a title for each new year, the Year of Fun, or the Year of the Coach, for example. It was a simple way to drive home the focus for the year, and to keep things constantly moving forward. Well, at least for me, 2017 is going to be the Year of the Activist. I’m going to put my money and, more importantly, time where my mouth is, get out there, and DO SOMETHING to support the causes that mean something to me.
First up, I plan to go to the Women’s March on Portland in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington. Tomorrow at my knitting group I will start a hat for the Pussy Hat Project. I hope to have time to knit at least one to send to D.C. and one to wear as I march. Wish this baby activist luck and quick pussy knitting!