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

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

In the Dark, Being Still

Hanukkah candles-8th night 5777_optIt’s the darkest time of the year: a few days past Winter Solstice; one day after Christmas; and this evening is the third night of Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights. Many of us mark this season with traditions of coming together to share time, eat special foods, and light up the darkness.

As we gather with friends and loved ones this year, we are sometimes finding ourselves confronted with political conversations that seem weightier than they ever have before.

If we’re gathering with like-minded people, conversations can take on a hushed, serious tone. “How did this happen? People I know are afraid. I am afraid. What are we going to do?” Continue reading

Climate, Communities, and Resilience: A Post-Election Interfaith Press Conference @COP22

syrian-childIn the wake of U.S. election results, Americans attending COP22 started getting a lot of questions from their global colleagues: What do we think of the president-elect? What positions will he take? Who will he appoint to be in his Cabinet? But mostly—since we were at a conference focused on international cooperation on dealing with our shared planetary climate crisis—the question was: “What does the election mean for U.S. action on climate change?”  Continue reading