I know I haven’t been writing. The summer was busy and then Doug and I got married. It was amazing – we have the best friends and family who helped us in so many ways. Other things are good: My new coworker is incredible and I’m so grateful she’s at my library. I’ve been nominated for the 2019 Printz committee which is a professional dream of mine. Things are good. We are happy.
I really thought Hillary Clinton would win. I cried when I voted for a woman president. I thought that as a people we would come together to overcome racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-immigration fears, etc. I was naive in thinking that our hundreds of years of those things could be overcome or at least knocked down a peg. We let ourselves be isolated in our communities: liberals not listening to conservatives, city folks mocking the rural. It’s easy to do even as someone who grew up in the rural Midwest.
So it’s been really hard to stay positive about the good things in my life over the last few days.
A lot of the kids in the Teen Room are scared: Will they be deported? Will they have to go to conversion therapy? Will they be able to get birth control when they need it? What about the economy, will it be ok? I admit I’m scared, too. And I don’t know what to tell them. I try to tell them we are there for them; that their friends and family are there for them. Also, that there are a lot of us who realize we could have and should have done more to listen and talk to those who are different than us. To try to understand. And that we’re going to be better.
White women who voted for someone who stands for male entitlement and sexual assault, who thinks all black people live in hell, who rejects the refugee? What the hell, my sisters? The sisterhood – yes I know it’s cheesy but I don’t care – includes women of color, immigrant women, queer women. The sisterhood is maybe for them. Yes, “lift as you climb,” but maybe those of us already benefitting from life at the top should spend time pulling others, our LGBTQ, POC, poor, immigrant sisters and brothers, up first. We played a part in failing that. The idea of the sisterhood is probably something that makes us white ladies feel better; that has allowed us to make the advances we have at the expense of women of color. Let’s change that. I will not forget the past but I’m committed to volunteering my time and money to fighting racism, sexism, and fear for the future.
So I’m talking and texting with teens who are terrified the won’t be able to get married someday because they are gay. Or are afraid that they racism they’ve already experienced – yes in our liberal enclave of Massachusetts – will get worse. They can’t sleep at night and I don’t know what to say. I don’t want to be defeatist and I don’t want to be scared. I want to be hopeful without excusing people who are pushing these harmful agendas. I go back and forth between these two states a million times a day. I try to tell them when I can that I too am scared. But that I’m also ready to work, to advocate, to let highlight marginalized voices. The people who have more to fear than white, straight, cisgendered me.
As many authors and writers have said, books and stories are important. Read all that you can, as widely as you can. Don’t know what life is like in rural parts? Find a story. Don’t know what it’s like to be a Muslim American? Find a story. Sometimes, oftentimes, those stories are in books and articles. Other times, you may have to get out there and talk to people in person. Hear their stories in real life. It’s ok, we’re all just people. We have so much more in common than what is different. We all want love, safety, personal fulfillment, career success, the freedom to be ourselves.
I will do it. I will find those who are different and I will start doing the work that I can.