White Women: Let’s Talk.

Chosen side of oppressor_optMy disbelief and astonishment at Kavanaugh’s advancement seems silly now. It’s clear now that my perspective before Kavanaugh was directly tied to my whiteness. It’s the whiteness that gave me privilege—and blinders.

I say this as a white woman who has already done a fair amount of work on understanding white privilege—as someone who has studied history and actively worked on grassroots engagement and advocacy on issues including environmental racism, racial justice, and immigration and detention. As white people go, I’m more woke than most. But still…the blinders were real.

The Kavanaugh episode showed me that the people in power in our government—people who are mostly white and mostly men and mostly wealthy—are not just indifferent to me and the issues and the people I care about. They don’t just have different starting perspectives about what’s best for our country, and they aren’t just swayed or blinded by connections with political party, big money, and corporations.

No. The mostly white, mostly male, and mostly wealthy people in power are actively opposed to me and the issues and the people I care about. Continue reading

The Beginning Is Always Today

New to my story or need a refresher? In the last four years, I left an unhealthy marriage; moved; bought a house and moved again; dabbled in dating; started rabbinical school; quit rabbinical school (or maybe it quit me?); got laid off from my job; scrambled as a freelancer for 8 months; landed a new and very full full-time job; and continued raising two (now) teenage sons. Oh, and we have a dog. I take care of her, too.


“The beginning is always today.” –Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

For a long time now, I feel like I’ve been in either overwhelm, survival, or post-survival/recovery mode. In those spaces, goal setting seemed impossible. One day at a time was all I could handle—or even imagine. But somehow, I’ve come to a place where goal setting seems possible. Hallelujah and blessed be!

trees that start again_optIn setting new goals, I want to be intentional. I want to bring my whole self—fed and formed over 43.5 years by a variety of people, interests, and communities—into this moment. I want to be my unique, best self—now and going forward. So far, I’ve had an interesting journey. I’ve tried things. I’ve explored. Some paths I walked on for a bit, but then branched off when the trail opened up. Some paths closed themselves off completely, and even when I tried using a machete to hack my way through, I couldn’t go any further. Each of the paths I walked helped inform the person I am today. I honor those paths and those parts of my history, those parts of me. Continue reading

The Luxury of Giving

hand with tiny leaf_optI’ve never truly been poor. At times of critical need, my parents have helped me out. I am lucky to have family to fall back on—that’s part of my privilege. But my experience of being a single mom for the last three+ years while earning not quite enough to make ends meet, then getting laid off eight months ago (with no unemployment benefits, ahem!), scrambling to find work, and finding myself underemployed…well, it’s taught me some things.

“One must be poor to know the luxury of giving.” –George Eliot

Continue reading

From Overwhelm to Action

Muslim Capitol Day 2017_optThere’s too much, too fast. The executive orders, appointments, tweets, ethics questions, ICE raids, lies/mistruths/”alternative facts” (?!?). It’s like trying to put out a bunch of fires all at once. It’s like drinking water from a fire hose. It’s like…so much spinning, and a dizzying overwhelm.

I hear ya. I’m feeling it, too.

As individuals, we can’t tackle it all. So what do we do? How do we choose what actions to take, on which issues?  Continue reading

Fertile Resistance

Resistance Is Fertile_optAs we go about the important work of resisting, here’s what I want us to remember:

Resistance is Fertile.

Not “futile,” as the Borg in Star Trek’s The Next Generation would have you believe. Fertile. According to a quick google search:

fer·tile

  1. (of soil or land) producing or capable of producing abundant vegetation or crops.
  2. (of a seed or egg) capable of becoming a new individual.
  3. (of a person, animal, or plant) able to conceive young or produce seed.  Continue reading

Don’t Try to Save the World All by Yourself!

partners_optTrying to accomplish any kind of activism, community, or systems change on your own is a recipe for disaster. First, it won’t work. More importantly, it’s sure to burn you out, make you crazy, and leave you lying in an angry or despairing puddle of ineffectiveness on your kitchen floor.

The Buddy System. In the Jewish tradition, people are not supposed to study all by themselves! People study in pairs—with a partner, called havruta (meaning friendship). Why do people study in pairs? For all kinds of reasons: because it’s not possible to find all the answers on our own; because studying with a partner makes each person accountable to the other; because having to articulate your ideas to someone else helps you express those ideas better. According to the Talmud, “Two scholars sharpen one another” (BT Ta’anit 7a).

In your advocacy and community work, you need a buddy.  Continue reading