Facebook Lost Me

I’m sorry to say, that I have to quit Facebook and Instagram. I can no longer cling to my ability to stay connected to my very small and scattered family, nor my wonderful friends, through these platforms.

But why? I mean, we know they are shady, and use our data against us, but we’ve always known that. Why now? What was the straw that broke the camel’s back, for me? This is why:

Facebook Fired An Employee Who Collected Evidence Of Right-Wing Pages Getting Preferential Treatment

I am ½ Jewish and ½ Catholic, by birth. As far as I know, my Jewish family came to the US before the Holocaust, and I did not lose part of my family tree in that genocide. As a white person, I cannot allow my privilege to dismiss what white supremacy has done and continues to do, to oppress Black and Brown people around the world. It may seem like this is not tangential, but this is how white supremacy seeps in, and we are all made to believe it’s not that big of a deal. It is.

If you are close family or friends, I will have messaged you to make sure you can contact me by phone and/or email. For everyone, I hope you’ll connect with me here:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/misscrf
Medium: https://medium.com/@misscrf
My Blog: https://imagerotated.com/

I know I’m just one speck in Facebook and IG’s likely zettabytes of data specks, but I have to cut that off now. I have to cut off their ability to profit from my participation of their platform. Every click I make, every quiz I take, every post, every like, every comment, gives them data. They sell it to every bidder. Not just the highest bidder, but all of them. They are double-dealing, as they court the GOP who are intrinsically aligned with white supremacy. Comment on this post, if you would like me to detail that alignment, in another post. It is extensive.

Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook/IG will do anything they can, to ensure the US government doesn’t attempt to regulate them. They are using their massive power, to make sure we stay powerless. To make sure we don’t own our data. To make sure they own us.

I know Twitter has many of the same risks, as does YouTube, and Amazon, and so much of the internet. For now, I will do this as best I can. One step at a time. This is a big one, and one that doesn’t come lightly. It’s not just seeing what everyone is up to, and posting a portrait pic of that amazing culinary creation we just made. It’s a mechanism for being able to connect with the people we care about, readily.

It’s insidious, in that way. It latches on to that emotional connection, so it can be digitally leveraged against us.

I look forward to the day that we can own our data, and share it safely, with who we choose, without it being leveraged to help white supremacy. I hope I can come back, I really do.

I know, it’s totally uncool to announce your exit from the party. I’ve never been cool. This is a big change, and one that I don’t take lightly. These platforms take our big round world and make it digitally flat. My family is few and scattered across this country, and Facebook has been a lifeline. I will miss this mechanism for connecting with them, greatly.

For now, I would like to call on generation X, to help lead this charge for change. That is my generation. We are the generation who grew up riding in the back of the station wagon or pickup, with no seat belt. We took a beating and kept on going. We didn’t have the internet. We had cans with strings, and long walks or bike rides to see if our friends were home. We are also the generation that most people counted out. We were lost in the brutal shuffle of life, between boomers and millennials. This is what we were made for, and no one knew it, least of all us.

We can lead this charge, to disconnect from something that is making us sick. Those who have grown up with this technology may be unable to see this for what it is, but my hope is that older generations can. Generation X was the last generation, who grew up without social media and technology. We know that it’s not necessary. It’s a luxury. We can hold out for better. Being able to hold out, will make us stronger. We don’t need billions of dollars to do that. We just need to be able to take a beating and keep on going. We can make a hard choice, and all of us will be better off in the long run.

What can we do in the absence of using those platforms, in an active effort to regain control? We can vote. We can be informed about the candidates on the ballot this fall. We can vet information we read, and make sure to read the whole article. We can make sure our friends and family do the same. We can vote, and honor John Lewis, by demanding Mitch McConnell and the Senate pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act (https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/4/text).

The House passed it last year. Mitch McConnell has called the Democrats’ attempts to expand access to voting, a power grab. Ensuring the will of the people is protected, is a power grab, as far as the GOP is concerned. They doesn’t want the will of the people to be heard. The GOP knows that if everyone in the country has access to vote, the GOP will lose. The Majority Leader of the US Senate is holding our voting rights, and election security hostage.

I know COVID sucks and a lot of things suck, but the reality is that we are the ones with the power. We have to fix this. We are the only ones who can. Voters. In 2016, 120 million Americans voted, but 90 million registered voters did not vote. We are 200 million strong, and growing, but we have to show up and be informed.

We have to call our reps and pressure them to make the changes we need. We have to vote out the ones who gaslight facts, voting rights, regulating the tech industry, science, and so much more. We have to show up and vote, even if our first choice isn’t on the ballot. We have to look at the 2 candidates at the top of every race and compare them not just to our wish list, but against each other. Who will do the least harm and the most good? We have to vote responsibly.

Then we must show up next year, and the year after, to make it better and better. That’s how a healthy democracy works.

This year, we must be prepared for USPS delays. Trump installed a Postmaster General (Dejoy), who is actively dismantling the USPS, and causing delays. They know that absentee and mail-in ballots must be postmarked and received by specific dates, in order to be valid. Election day is not November 3rd. It is well before that day.

We must verify our registration is active now, before any deadline passes. Most deadlines are 30 days before election, but it can take time to get a registration in, if your state doesn’t allow online registration. We need to contact our county Board of Elections now and request an absentee or mail-in ballot application.

When we get our ballots, we have to fill it out immediately and get our ballots back to our Board of Elections filled in exactly as required. Mail-in ballots are often invalidated for missing a signature on an envelope, or something seemingly innocent and simple. We can’t be afraid to ask each other for help, to make sure our vote counts.

We also need to be prepared, to not get the results of the election on November 3rd. Start having that conversation now. Many states don’t open mail-in ballots until after election day. Whether that is a good policy or not, it is the policy now. Want it to change? Keep paying attention and communicating with your state government, but I suggest lobbying for those changes after this election. The state election laws are not going to change, before November.

We have to be willing to be patient, and demand that every vote be counted. Trump will absolutely call the election rigged, when we don’t have the results immediately after the election, particularly if it looks like he is already losing. He has a well-established pattern of denigrating our institutions of democracy. Don’t be a willing participant in his anti-democratic rhetoric.

I know that spending your time getting out the vote, and talking to voters about an election, does not sound as satisfying as talking to friends and family on Facebook, or posting pics and videos on IG. I get it. I’m asking something really hard. I don’t expect many will join me, but I figure I might as well make the pitch, for why this is so important, seeing as I’m making this big change.

As for my friends and family on Facebook and IG, we can see each other again, and IRL hopefully. I will miss seeing your beautiful children grow. I will miss sending you digital support when you need it. I will miss posting all my political awareness posts, hoping everyone reads them and takes them to heart. I will miss being part of conversations with people I haven’t seen in years.

Sci-fi nerds like me, love to dream of time travel. Facebook certainly didn’t accomplish that, but memories popping up in your timeline can feel like you can almost grasp it. Revisit your past. Feel those feelings. All the while, powerful people are watching our interactions, aggregating what we do, and tracking us on and off the platform. They are using those feelings to leverage our buying of goods and services. They’re using it to manipulate our votes too.

Because I get that this is a big decision to make, I have also grappled with the preparation that needs to take place. For me, this has included downloading all my data. I wanted a copy of my photos, videos, and my friends list. I went through my friend’s list, so I could identify people I wanted to reach out to and give my contact info, so we can connect outside of these platforms. If you have interest in the process I took to make this move, please comment on this post. If there is interest, I will make a follow-up post detailing how I did this. I took print screens of the steps I took, because I’m super cool like that.

Bottom line is that Mark Zuckerberg is allowing white supremacy to leverage our data and our lives, for their gain. They are giving preferential treatment to people and outlets who are gaslighting facts, and simultaneously trying like hell to suppress our vote. I can’t be a part of that anymore. I can no longer be a willing data point, that they use against me and everyone I connect with on these platforms.

I have to be part of an effort, that encourages Americans to fulfill the promise of our democracy. That we take up our civic duty to participate in our government. I will spend my time encouraging citizens to exercise their civic right, by voting in this election and every one after.

I suggest doing so as early as possible.

Celebrating Amid Dueling Pandemics

There are many celebrating today. It’s a day to celebrate, if for no other reason, than everyone is sick of being couped up. At least that’s what it seems like, from my bubble. It stands to reason that I’m not exactly inline with the zeitgeist. I’ve been 95% isolated and in quarantine, since March. Most people around me seem to like suggesting that I can still get out though, right? I don’t really feel like celebrating though.

Right now there is a new pandemic, and one that is older than the reason for celebrating this day we call Independence Day. Over 200 years older. I’m going to address the newer one, because the older, generational, and systemic pandemic is not only affected by this new virus among us, but we will still have this original plague, when the virus is eventually contained and we have a viable vaccine/treatment. We must mitigate this virus, because it only stands to make our work to eradicate racism, that much harder.

I see people sick of this virus, of the economy being shut down, and people needing paychecks. I also see people complaining about wearing masks, needing to go to hair appointments, going to pools, restaurants, planning trips, and taking selfies with people they do not live with. I see people screaming about the infringement of their rights, to ask them to wear a mask and socially distance themselves from other people.

While I stay in my isolation, with no human contact, it seems pretty clear from the news, from the scientists, and the experts, that we may be in this til next year, at least. If we are to really come to terms with that, then we must also come to terms with the fact that it is going to last that long, whether we isolate, socially distance ourselves from others, test, contact trace, and shut this virus down, or whether we allow it to run rampant across this country.

Even if things are not bad where you are, this is our reality right now.

It seems, right now, that many in this country are good with rolling the dice on their health, and dismiss that their actions are creating a higher risk for others. Those who seem to be of this mind, are not the ones who will hurt the most from their actions. I’m not talking about me. I’m fine. I have a full-time job, and I can stay isolated. It may suck, but I have 3 cats, and I can pay my bills. The people who will be crushed by this virus, over the next year, will be those who are lower income and those who are Black and Brown. It is not just that poverty is systemically and generationally racist, it’s also that health care in this country is systemically racist too. Black and Brown people will run into roadblocks, in getting care, that white people are less likely to face.

I look around the world, at the countries that have legitimately flattened the curve, and compare that to here in the United States. I feel we are on the precipice of losing the moral argument of our ideal of freedom. Will the future hold that our country started out with a noble idea, but was desolated by selfishness and hatred towards science and scientific experts? How can we be a great nation, if we are not built on one that values the highest pursuits of truth, knowledge, and the full potential of it’s citizens?

How can we do anything close to that, if we only care about ourselves, and not the welfare of others?

Freedom isn’t about selfishness, but about equality for all of us. That means, no one person’s freedom can be more important than that of another’s. To deny this, is to deny the basis for equality. So, while people dismiss that they are not at risk, I would ask people to consider how many degrees of separation they are from anyone who cannot afford to get sick. What will inevitably happen, as this continues to spread to low income communities?

I see fragile white comments about racism not being a problem, but here’s the thing. Not seeing racism doesn’t make it go away, just like not paying attention to the virus and taking it seriously, won’t make it go away.

There’s something else too. Most of the white people who claim there is no racism, are also quick to claim they are not racist. So, if that’s true, then don’t you owe it to your commitment to not be racist, to not perpetuate racism, to listen and lift up Black voices? To care about the welfare of those who are at a disadvantage? Is it not part of not being racist, to believe Black people, when they tell you that they need Black lives to matter, because in their experiences, it is not mattering equally to the lives of others?

That brings me to the older pandemic. Yes, the one of racism in this country. If you follow my blog, or are paying attention at all, you know I cannot cover all of the racism in this country in one blog post. For now, I want to talk about Breonna Taylor.

I have been wondering if I should write about her story and advocate for justice. I follow a lot of people who are doing that. People with actual audiences. People who can speak more eloquently on this injustice, than I can. The answer is that until there is justice, it is on every person to keep pushing.

In the midnight hour of March 13, Breonna Taylor was asleep in her bed and her boyfriend was with her. Intruders stormed in the door, and her boyfriend grabbed his legally owned gun, to protect him and his girlfriend. Police officers, who were supposed to be issuing a no-knock warrant, stormed into her apartment, and shot her 8 times, while she slept.

It took 3 months for the Louisville Police Department to release the incident report, and it’s almost blank, listing her injuries as “none”.

Louisville police release the Breonna Taylor incident report. It’s virtually blank

There is still no answer as to why her apartment was approved for this warrant, when neither Breonna Taylor, or her boyfriend Kenneth Walker, are drug dealers. Breonna Taylor was an EMT, and Kenneth Walker was about to start a job at the US Postal Service. They shouldn’t have to be saints, or angels, but let’s just at least agree that there has still been no justification provided by the authorities, for why her apartment was put on this approved warrant list.

Louisville detective who obtained no-knock warrant for Breonna Taylor’s apartment reassigned

What we know about Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend and why charges against him were dropped

I wrote a post, a couple of weeks ago. At the end, I encouraged everyone to make 3 calls, to demand justice for the murder of Breonna Taylor. Continuing the Work of an Ally.

The next day after posting that, I called Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer at 502-574-2003 to demand he fire officers who murdered Breonna Taylor. If you do this, you have to press 4 for the directory. Then type his name, last name then first name = 34724374734. That gives his ext. 5025744545. Press # to be transferred. Then it hangs up. I could not figure out a way to successfully leave a message.

I called the Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron at 502-696-5300 opt 1- to demand he charge the officers who murdered Breonna Taylor. They updated their phone system, to make option 1 feedback on Breonna Taylor’s murder, but they haven’t charged the officers who murdered her.

I called the Interim Police Chief Robert Schroeder at 502-574-7111 to demand he complete his investigation and immediately turn it over to Breonna’s lawyers and the Attorney General. I chose opt 6 then 4 to get to the Chief’s office. The mailbox is full. The AG hasn’t finished the investigation, or cleaned out their mailbox.

Breonna Taylor was murdered on March 13. It’s been 4 months, and nothing even close to justice, has been done.

I want everyone to do this, particularly white people in this country who do not believe that there is racism, that our justice system is not racist, and that they themselves to not believe they are racist, and really don’t want to perpetuate racism. I want them to be frustrated for 7 minutes. It will give them a single drop of the ocean of frustration her family and her boyfriend are living through.

This last week, I did what Bernice King asked:

I would like white Americans to call this number too. It will patch you through to the mailbox of city council representatives, to leave them messages demanding justice for one of their constituents. I spent 17 minutes doing this. I want every white person who really means something real, when they say they aren’t racist, to be someone who supports justice for Black people in action. Some of the mailboxes are full, and they should all be full, until they do their job.

The investigation should be completed by now. The police officers need to be fired, arrested, charged, and justice pursued, but none of this has happened. There cannot be justice for all, if there is no justice for Breonna Taylor. No, it doesn’t stop with her, but you can start here. You can choose to care enough about this to take a 1/2 hour hour out of your day to demand justice for a fellow American.

Since many have watched Hamilton, this weekend, and people are celebrating our partial independence, we might take to heart the words spoken:

But we’ll never be truly free
Until those in bondage have the same rights as you and me
You and I. Do or die.”

Hamilton, My Shot

Slavery was fought for, by confederate states, and police departments formed, both in the north and the south, to keep Black people in line.

How the U.S. Got Its Police Force

Jim Crow laws, redlining, white flight, segregation, and the for-profit prison systems have kept Black Americans oppressed and with less justice. Less justice is no justice. It is not equal or free.

Please speak up to elected officials in Louisville, KY, the state of Kentucky, and your own representatives. We must demand justice for Breonna Taylor. After that, we have a long list of people who’s families and friends are also awaiting justice.

This is just some of those names:

George Floyd: Timeline of black deaths caused by police

If we really want to be able to have true pride in our freedom, we first have to make sure all of our fellow Americans are free and equal. We still have a lot of work to do, and it’s not someone else’s job. Every citizen has a responsibility to fight for the equality and freedom of all citizens. We can’t do that by just firing off fireworks and waving a flag. We can’t do that by ignoring a global pandemic, or by ignoring the murder of Breonna Taylor. If we are going to be a free nation, we all have to demand it. Not just ourselves, but for every citizen.

Continuing the Work of an Ally

I did a video last week and wrote a blog post with a bunch of resources. Some people went to a protest. We’re done, right? We showed up and said we cared. I mean, Black Americans can’t expect us to keep showing up, can they? We have lives, don’t we?

You know where this is going, if not, you’ve never met me and you do not understand sarcasm. Of course there is more work to do. 400 years of racism and oppression doesn’t just get solved in a day, or with one kind gesture, or a nice social media post. I know. It would be so great if that would get it done.

We’ve got real work to do, and as a white American, I know that starts with me. I finished The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin, last week. It was incredible, but I would consider it advanced reading for white Americans who don’t think they perpetuate racism or come from a generationally racist construct.

Now I am reading White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo. My mom is also reading this. In about 3 weeks we plan to have a discussion about it, and I welcome anyone else who wants to join. Please contact me here in the comments, or on social media, so we can plan a date and time that works for everyone. My facebook is friends and family (people I know IRL) but twitter is open, and my handle is @misscrf.

The reason I am inviting people to join us, is because the initial thing I have found (so far) in White Fragility, is that white people avoid discussing racism, and that needs to stop. I can admit that I have often been apprehensive about discussing race, especially in front of a Black person. I didn’t want to say the wrong thing or offend anyone. I certainly didn’t want to be seen as racist, when that’s the last thing I want to be.

But that’s not good enough. Admitting that is the first step. Admitting I felt that way, is part of how I dig myself out of this, and I welcome other white people to do the same. We have to confront our own avoidance of talking about race. If you don’t know by now, Black Americans can’t avoid race being a part of their lives, and this won’t get better until white Americans stop avoiding discussions about race. The ability for white Americans to avoid discussing race, is in fact part of our white privilege. Our unwillingness to discuss race, is part of our white fragility.

Seriously, I’m only in the first chapter and I love this book.

I can absolutely recognize that I have been conditioned through my life to not view myself on the terms of my race, but to view Black people on the terms of their race. That, in itself, is conditioned racism. I think when white people hear the word racism, they think that means I just hurled expletives at a Black person. Racism is way more nuanced, and it involves marginalizing people, erasing first person, Black narratives, and applying a different set of rules to people, solely based on race.

Recently, I have had to un-friend some people on facebook. I know that sounds frivolous, but these are people I have known since high school. I know that I’m not alone in having to make these tough decisions, but I want to go over this, because I think it is important. As a white person, it’s really on me to check my inherent racism, but also to call it out in white people who are in my sphere.

I will never understand someone finding any value or worth in Trump, aside from white supremacists and Putin. Yet, there are so many who do, and so many of you will decry that they are not racist. I’ve called people out for this, and they have commented on my posts that underscore the inherent racism in supporting Trump.

What I found, in calling out these friends, is that eventually the arguments go flat. I reject their gaslighting, and they refuse to critically examine any evidence I show them of the Trump’s long-documented history of being racist. It goes well beyond the last 3 years, and has been evident for decades. Despite all that, it’s too inconvenient for people who are surrounded by an environment of Trump loving MAGA folk, to accept any criticism of someone who makes them feel like white people deserve their privilege and status.

What I realized, is that I had to make a decision. If I stayed friends with them, wouldn’t I just be saying that is was ok to agree to disagree? Wasn’t I dismissing their willingness to support a white supremacist, as acceptable? I realized I cannot do that. I will try to reach you, I will call out your rhetoric and implicit bias, but if you refuse to reason, gaslight the facts, make strawman arguments, and try to end the discussion, then I have to say goodbye. I cannot condone supporting white supremacy. Even if I wasn’t Jewish or a lesbian, I’d still be white, and I can’t care about Black Americans, while condoning the support of white supremacy. White supremacy is antithetical to the promise of this country, that we are all inherently equal. It’s not just that we are inherently equal, but that we have an inherent right to equality under the law. It is on me, as a white American, to demand that we make it a reality.

One thing I want to mention about this is the comments I see from white people, when we discuss racism. Again, we are not talking about hurling racist words, burning crosses, or being violent against people based on their race. I’m talking about the words we use in every day conversation. I recently read this list: 10 common phrases that are actually racist AF. I was surprised at how many phrases I use, that I didn’t know were rooted in racism. I see a common reaction from white people, when this type of thing is brought up. An eye roll and something to the effect of “you can’t say anything anymore!” or “everything has gotten so PC!”

Really, that’s just lazy. No one is saying you can’t say anything, but we are saying that you should care if your words perpetuate racism. It’s not just about your intent. It’s about the impact your words have. It’s common decency and respect. It’s about wanting to be inclusive enough that you aren’t just reluctantly willing to un-train yourself from the habit of saying certain things. It’s about actively wanting to, because you want a better world, not just for you, but for those you hurt. Because that is the reality. When you speak carelessly about someone on the basis of their race, you perpetuate the marginalization of all people within that race. You also bolster those who are overtly and violently racist. You help the racists feel that it’s ok or it’s not a big deal. Well, it is.

Another thing I want to take the time to do, is mention some of the action items I did last week, to step up and do more than just talk. This is not meant to be a point of bragging. Look at me! I’m an ally! Rather, it’s in part a way for me to be accountable. It’s a way to show that I’m not just sharing news and the narratives of Black Americans on social media. The other part of this, is that my whole point of posting these, is to encourage other white Americans to take tangible action. I hope by listing the things I’m doing, with links to resources, others may see that they can do some stuff too.

Last week I used resistbot to send a letter to my Senators, asking they demand a vote on H.R.35 – Emmett Till Antilynching Act .

It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t get a lot of likes and retweets, because it sent that letter to my Senators.

I signed on to a petition to end qualified immunity:

Another to end no-knock warrants:

and another to repeal 50-a in NY State, which kept police misconduct hidden from the public.

I’m thrilled to say this repeal has officially passed, which is not the end of our work, but it is substantial change in the right direction.

I donated to a group fund that was split between the following organizations:

I also donated to Equal Justice Initiative, twice. It wasn’t totally intentionally, but it kind of was. I watched Just Mercy, which is free on Amazon Prime. Try getting through that without a mountain of tissues. I’ve been a huge fan of the Innocence Project for years, and always been against the death penalty, but boy does this show how incredibly damaging it is.

I also did some phone banking for the State Senate candidate I am supporting, Samra Brouk. It was only about 40 calls, but hey if 50 people volunteered, that could be 2,000 calls. If you read my posts and watch my videos, you’re going to hear more and more about volunteering for candidates. Voting rights are under attack in this country, and Black Americans have never had full access to voting. That has got to change, but it will only change if we all demand it. This is our government, but only if we do the job of making sure it runs properly.

I didn’t do a video this time, partly because I’m more comfortable writing, but partly because I don’t want to repeat what I just said above. Maybe I’ll do another video in the future, but for now, let’s make sure we all get to work and keep on working. For the next week, I plan to keep reading White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo.

I have a Monroe County library card, but as a New York state resident, I am also allowed to get a New York City Library card. Check big cities in your state, and you might be able to do the same. I use the Libby app, which has both library cards in it, to search for books I want to borrow. If one library doesn’t have the book, or there is a hold/wait, I check the other library. Once you borrow a book, you can send it to your kindle, you’ll get taken to an in-app browser page that is on the Amazon side, where you choose the device to send it to, and bam. All set. You can get the kindle app, even if you don’t have Amazon Prime, and you can put it on your phone, and tablets, even if they aren’t Amazon phones.

I love reading with the Kindle app, because I can highlight passages and words I learn, and then upload all those to goodreads, where I can have that book on my reading or read list and I can write reviews of books I have read. I’m just telling you all of this, because if you want to read White Fragility, please do, and I would love to discuss it with you.

I also want to encourage everyone to watch this video:

And then make these 3 calls. I will be making these calls as well:

Call Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer at 502-574-2003 – Demand he fire officers who murdered Breonna Taylor. * Note – I did this. You have to press 4 for the directory. Then I type his name, last then first = 34724374734. That gives his ext. 5025744545. Press # to be transferred. Then it hangs up.

Call Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron at 502-696-5300 opt 1- Demand he charge the officers who murdered Breonna Taylor. *Note – I did this, and it’s interesting that they updated their phone system to put option 1 for feedback on Breonna Taylor’s murder, but they haven’t charged the officers who murdered her.

Call Interim Police Chief Robert Schroeder at 502-574-7111 – Demand he complete his investigation and immediately turn it over to Breonna’s lawyers and the Attorney General. *Note – I did this, and chose opt 6 then 4 to get to the Chief’s office. The mailbox is full.

She was murdered, while sleeping, on March 13th. The investigation has not been completed, and nothing has been done. The police department released the incident report and it’s virtually blank. This is not justice.

Breonna Taylor should still be alive. There must be justice. We must demand it.

My Appeal to White Americans

This is my appeal to white Americans. It is not well edited or perfect, but it is my way of doing what I can to encourage all white Americans to do what we can for fellow Black Americans. Below is a video I recorded, followed by the bulk of that transcript and then links to the resources I mentioned. Thank you for taking the time to listen, read, and consider being an ally in action for Black Americans.

Hello, my name is Courtney Fay and I live in Rochester, NY. As a white American, it is incumbent upon me to speak to my fellow white Americans. I do this for Black Americans, because the onus is not on them. It must be on us. I am imperfect and I may stumble, but I will not let that prevent me from doing what I can, to push for change, to stand with Black Americans, and to demand that all white Americans do the same.

I’ve been watching the protests and listening to Black Americans speak about the injustice they live with daily. I have seen cops instigating the attacks on peaceful protesters, I’ve seen outside agitators riot and loot and light a match to this tinder keg. I do not believe they are antifa. It is much more likely that they are white supremacists looking to delegitimize these valid protests.

The only place I can think to start, is to step up to the plate and do what many Black Americans ask us to do. Confront my own racism.  To be a white American is to be a product of a legacy of racism. There is no way around this. To deny it is to deny the last 400 years of white supremacist oppression of Black Americans. My grandfather, on my dad’s side, was racist. I didn’t know him well, because he had a stroke before I was born, and ½ of his brain had been paralyzed. What I knew of him, was that he was a strict man. He went to Harvard to become a lawyer, but could not finish his degree. He changed course and became a teacher, and then a principal.

I only had one experience of his racism, but it was enough. My cousin and I were folding laundry in the back room of my grandparent’s house. My grandfather was in the living room watching the Olympics, which my cousin and I were also watching, as we folded clothes. There was a track race on. I remember hearing the highlights of the runners, including a runner from an African country, though I was too young to remember which country. The African Olympian blew the other competitors away, and I was so impressed as he ran across that finish line. As he did, my grandfather, in the other room, yelled at the tv, “You learned to run like that in the jungle, you (n-word).” I shot up from my seated position on the floor, and was about to scream bloody murder at him, when my cousin shot up after me and slapped her hand over my face.

She looked at me and said, “Upstairs. Now.” She said that he was born in 1910 and didn’t know any better. It was how he was raised. I said that it was still wrong. She agreed, but noted that I was not going to change him and I would only cause problems. Even if he would have been receptive, with his stroke, that was highly unlikely. Because I was around 8 at the time, she was probably right, even though I still wish I had said something. The thing was, her mom and my parents had irrevocably broken that cycle. Her mom (My Aunt) taught English as a second language in a city school. My parents raised my brother and I on principles of love, and inherent equality for all people.

This is one example of the legacy of racism that I come from. My parents broke that chain, but it is not enough. It is not enough that I do not embrace racism. As a white American, it does not matter that I am Jewish. It does not matter that most people care more about my Judaism than knowing I am also ½ Catholic. It does not matter that I am a Lesbian. When I walk down the street, or into a store, or into a job interview, or into an emergency room, or into a police station, I am seen because I am a white American. I am seen as not a threat.

That is not the reality for Black Americans.

This nation was built on the promise that all people had an inherent right to equality and equity.

That is not our history, but that is our promise.

I love Black people. I do. I love Black men. I love Black women. I love Black children. It is not enough.

I knew there was racism, from the time I was young. My family was one that watched the news, and kept informed. My parents did not shield us from seeing racism, but rather pointed it out, so we would know it was wrong. Growing up in the 80’s, seeing it was thought to be enough, from my white bubble. It wasn’t until after 2000, that I was able to see that Black Americans needed more from white people, than for us to call them our friends. We needed to put our friendship into action.

This is not just police shooting Black Americans, and getting away with it. This is intersectional, systemic, generational racism, that seeps into every crack of every Black American’s life. It is death by 1,000 paper cuts. It is micro-aggressions that get flung every time a Black American turns a corner. I know this, because I’ve been doing my part to listen to Black Americans and I’ve learned how important it is to believe them. To that end, I want to pass along some of the ways I have learned, that we white Americans can break the bubble of privilege we live in.

The first is to speak up. That means owning up to the racism and implicit biases we carry. Any time we react differently to a situation, based on the race of the person in the situation. Anytime we realize that we have neglected to acknowledge a Black American in front of us. Any time we classify all Black Americans, or most, as any one attribute, trait, or behavior. All white Americans are not one thing, but for some reason it is not a problem to put this on Black Americans. It’s gaslighting, to let it go, in any situation, because one situation turns into 400 years of situations.

We must say these things out loud. Own up to them in front of other white Americans, and call out those prejudices in our family, with our friends, and our colleagues. There can be no equivocation. For 400 years, Black Americans have been told that they just need to be patient, act right, don’t be too loud, don’t agitate anyone, just be good enough, and maybe you will live. That would never be put on a white American. In having conversations with fellow white Americans, it will be difficult. There will be tension. There will be pushback and gaslighting and there will feel an urgency to compromise, and back down. This cannot be tolerated.

We must also educate ourselves, about Black American experiences and stories and narratives.  There are a plethora of amazing Black Americans to learn from and learn about. Excellent books, new outlets, journalists, activists, and organizations. When you are a white American, you have to go out of your way to hear and see Black stories, because they are not the default in your bubble. Pick a movie or tv show to watch. Pick a book to read. How often is the default of what you see, primarily white people’s stories? In order to hear and see Black American voices and people, you must make the choice to seek those stories out. To read, and listen, and care about understanding as best your can, what their experiences are in this country. The good news is, that once you do that, you widen your bubble. It’s the best thing you’ll ever do.  

I think it is excellent to be vocal on social media, to share and promote Black American voices, and to care from the comfort of our homes.  I also believe that being an ally means we must do more than talk. We must listen, and heed the urgency for white Americans to support Black Americans and protect them from white supremacy in this country. It has undeniably infiltrated our police departments.

Below are some lists that I ask white Americans to spend some time going through. I put together some lists of ways to support Black Americans in action. I recommend books to read, including my to-read list for further suggestions, documentaries, limited series, and movies to see, journalists, news outlets, activists to follow, read, and listen to, elected officials and candidates to support, organizations to support, other action items, and some of my action items for the next week.

These are not by any means exhaustive lists. These are just some of the Black American voices, stories, and people, whom I respect and appreciate. I find worth in what they have to say. I see them, and I hear them. I believe what they have to say is worth knowing and worth sharing with the world. My view is still limited, and that enables implicit bias. I look forward to expanding these lists, and there are many I did not include, because I am simply trying to help offer some hopefully useful suggestions and resources.

Books to read:

  1. The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19073499-the-fire-next-time)*
  2. Really, anything by James Baldwin (https://www.goodreads.com/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&q=James+Baldwin&search_type=books&search%5Bfield%5D=author)
  3. Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41016406-uncle-tom-s-cabin-by-harriet-beecher-stowe?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=r9i0HsPWCE&rank=4)
  4. The Truths We Hold: An American Journey, Kamala Harris (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40861864-the-truths-we-hold?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=jSHAWr0gRa&rank=2)
  5. Kindred, Octavia E. Butler (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60931.Kindred?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=4hToHwnkyk&rank=1)
  6. The Color Purple, Alice Walker (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11486.The_Color_Purple?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=9FHrz1VZeK&rank=1)

* currently reading

On my to read list:

  1. Becoming, Michelle Obama (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38746485-becoming?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=uQwev189PK&rank=1)
  2. The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32075671-the-hate-u-give?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=LrxWDSvLY5&rank=1)
  3. Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25489625-between-the-world-and-me?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=pJAwU8dYON&rank=1)
  4. The Light of Truth: Writings of an Anti-lynching Crusader, Ida B. Wells-Barnett (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20893307-the-light-of-truth?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=5x6k969i9Z&rank=1)
  5. The 1619 Project, Nikole Hannah-Jones (https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/14/magazine/1619-america-slavery.html)
  6. Moving Forward: A Story of Hope, Hard Work, and the Promise of America, Karine Jean-Pierre (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44674907-moving-forward?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=sjE77nPIQP&rank=4)

Documentaries, limited series, and movies to see:

  1. 13th (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5895028/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1)
  2. I Am Not Your Negro (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5804038/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1)
  3. When They See Us (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7137906/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1)
  4. If Beale Street Could Talk (Book by James Baldwin) (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7125860/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1)
  5. Girl Rising (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2444946/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1)

Journalists, news outlets, activists to follow, read, and listen to:

  1. The Root (https://www.theroot.com/)
  2. Joy Reid (https://twitter.com/JoyAnnReid)
  3. Nikole Hannah Jones (https://twitter.com/nhannahjones)
  4. Karine Jean-Pierre (https://twitter.com/K_JeanPierre)
  5. Maya Wiley (https://twitter.com/mayawiley)
  6. Bree Newsome Bass (https://twitter.com/BreeNewsome)
  7. Imani Gandy (https://twitter.com/AngryBlackLady)
  8. Colin Kaepernick (https://twitter.com/Kaepernick7)
  9. Tarana Burke (https://twitter.com/TaranaBurke)
  10. April Reign (https://twitter.com/ReignOfApril)
  11. Michael Harriot (https://twitter.com/michaelharriot)
  12. Soledad O’Brien (https://twitter.com/soledadobrien)
  13. Matthew A. Cherry (https://twitter.com/MatthewACherry)
  14. Kristen Clarke (https://twitter.com/KristenClarkeJD)
  15. Jason Reynolds (https://twitter.com/JasonReynolds83)
  16. Bernice King (https://twitter.com/BerniceKing)
  17. Jason Overstreet (https://twitter.com/JasonOverstreet)
  18. Rev. Cornell William Brooks (https://twitter.com/CornellWBrooks)
  19. Ava DuVernay (https://twitter.com/ava)
  20. Charles P. Pierce (https://twitter.com/CharlesPPierce)
  21. Mari Copeny (https://twitter.com/LittleMissFlint)

Elected officials and candidates to support:

  1. Rep. Maxine Waters (https://twitter.com/RepMaxineWaters)
  2. Rep. Val Demmings (https://twitter.com/RepValDemings)
  3. Senator Kamala Harris (https://twitter.com/SenKamalaHarris)
  4. Senator Ayanna Pressley (https://twitter.com/RepPressley)
  5. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (https://twitter.com/EleanorNorton)
  6. Rep Lauren Underwood (https://twitter.com/RepUnderwood)
  7. Stacey Abrams (https://twitter.com/staceyabrams)
  8. Letitia James (https://twitter.com/NewYorkStateAG)
  9. Samra Brouk (https://twitter.com/samraforsenate)
  10. Senator Elizabeth Warren (https://twitter.com/ewarren)
  11. Jaime Harrison (https://twitter.com/harrisonjaime)
  12. Mayor Lovely Warren (https://twitter.com/lovelyawarren)

Organizations to support:

  1. NAACP (https://www.naacp.org/)
  2. Black Lives Matter (https://blacklivesmatter.com/)
  3. Alliance for Justice (https://www.afj.org/)
  4. Antidefamation League (https://www.adl.org/)
  5. National Urban League (https://nul.org/)

Other action items:

  1. Verify voter registration is valid and active.
  2. Contact your representatives at the local, state, and federal level to demand meaningful actions be taken to protect Black Americans. Every police officer, who has killed a Black person, must be arrested and charged. There must be a trial. There must be justice.
  3. Support local Black owned businesses.
  4. Donate to local shelters and outreach centers.
  5. Get off the sidelines and support a progressive candidate for office. Support a Black American candidate for elected office. Actively support Black American representation in this country.
  6. Support Black voices.
  7. Listen to them.
  8. Hear them.
  9. Believe them. You will have to urge to correct them or pick apart what they are saying. Stop. Just believe them and spend some time with accepting what they said, as they said it, without you trying to control their words or make them fit through your bubble.
  10. Find ways you can use your white privilege, to support a Black American person in your life. If you see someone stopped by cops, STAY. Video tape, and make sure they are ok.
  11. If you are present when a Black friend, colleague, acquaintance, or passerby and you see they are being denigrated, disrespected, or attacked in anyway, be a stop gap. Confront the situation. Acknowledge the Black American and confront the white American’s actions. Stand with the Black American and insist the white American do the same. Help de-escalate and aggression and do not dismiss or ignore racism, including micro-aggressions.

My action items for the next week are the following:

  1. Contact my local, state and federal representatives to demand meaningful actions be taken to protect Black Americans. Every police officer, who has killed a Black person, must be arrested and charged. There must be a trial. There must be justice.
  2. Volunteer for a fantastic candidate for elected office, Samra Brouk. (https://samraforsenate.com/)
  3. Reach out to my Black American friends and colleagues, to ask if there is anything I can do to support them. If they think I can help, I want to know, so I can.
  4. I donated to Reclaim the Block (https://www.reclaimtheblock.org/home) and plan on donating to Black Lives Matter this week.

If you feel I have left out anything important, or if any of my links don’t work, please let me know. Thank you.

If the President Can Do It, So Can I Right?

To every hacker in the world,

Will someone please do us all a favor and hack Mitch F**king McConnell? Seriously. Dude has to be the most corrupt person in Washington. Please, for the sake of everyone, just hack his corrupt, racist ass and dump that shit on a public server.

Sincerely,

A grateful citizen

P.s. I apologize for the profanity.

 

To my Representatives in Congress

According to CNN, FEMA and HHS have been found to not be coordinating the delivery of available equipment and supplies from the Pentagon to medical facilities and places that need them. (https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/31/politics/pentagon-ventilators/index.html )

Trump is concerned more about being number 1 on Facebook, than managing this rampant global pandemic that is killing mass amounts of people a day. (https://youtu.be/oMm9cjF1o0Q ) These are not the words of someone who is grasping the gravity of this global health crisis. This is not someone who is even demonstrating a full awareness of what is happening.

According to the CNN article above, the coronavirus task force in the White House is an absolute and complete sham. That is already something that was public knowledge the minute it was announced. Pence is on the record as not believing in science.

We simply cannot afford to allow the people managing this crisis, being people who have no knowledge or experience in science, medicine, or caring for the health of other people.

I ask that you urge your fellow Congressional representatives to immediately determine a way to hold remote hearings and votes, using widely available video technology, and ensuring it can be aired on C-SPAN so that the voters can be witness to their representatives working for them, and so the record can be preserved. We must have a Congressional COVID19 commission now, to ensue the administration doesn’t endanger the lives of Americans, through corruption, negligence, and incompetence.

We must have all the information about what the administration is doing, where the coordination is, where urgently needed supplies are, where the tests are, how effective they are, tracing, and all of it.

We must have transparency and accountability from our government or we will lose countless lives. Please get this done. This is why you are our representatives. We need hearings, documents, testimony, and results. We need our government to be for all of the people.

Thank you,

Courtney Fay

Where to go When the Bar is So Low

Anyone who is undecided in the Democratic primary, you are not alone.  I am struggling to see either choice as one I can enthusiastically support. Both Biden and Sanders puff their chests, exaggerate their effectiveness and record, and even tend to lie.  Biden is wildy known for taking credit for things he didn’t do, or saying he supported or opposed something he didn’t. They both do that.

Remember Sanders abjectly saying he didn’t say a quote a debate moderator read to him? Biden saying he voted for the Iraq war, for one reason when he voted, but for the opposite reason now. Both of their campaigns love to shove the virtue of their candidate down our throats. Their candidate is more experienced and will build a stronger coalition, while they insult voters and tell them to vote for someone else. Their candidate will advance progressive policies, even though they have yet to do so.

We lost our shot for a someone who can truly unify us, lift up every voice, and someone will real plans, who doesn’t exaggerate their record, but stands firmly ready to fight for real change. The problem now is that if either side doesn’t get their nominee, we stand to have that faction stomp their feet and not support the nominee.

Trump is a white supremacist, who places being fawned over by the media as more important than being a responsible leader. With Trump, comes and compromised GOP, who knows they are losing the space they have been man-spreading in for so many years. That’s why they want to purge voter rolls, gerrymander duck districts, and disenfranchise voters.  Their best scenario is that the moderates and progressives of the Democratic party split up and a 3rd party candidate fractures the vote, or people just stay home and don’t vote blue.

That is what we need to stop, but we need everyone on board to do it. We must flip the Senate, and we won’t do that unless we have a coalition, not just of voters, but of volunteers. Volunteers to canvass, swing left, phone bank, text, register voters, talk to friends and family, and get out that vote. We must have a candidate, and a ticket, that we can all get behind.

I’m so sick of being an undecided voter and it’s only be about a week.  Even still, I’m glad I don’t vote until the end of April.  I have a feeling there will be a few October surprises between now and then.  I would love for them to name their VP picks.  Both of their teams are going after their declining health. Again the bar is pretty low, when the current occupant of the White House lives on fast food and has to be tricked into eating vegetables. That aside, it is a legitimate concern for either of them, that the voters really should get to know who their VP pick will be, before the nomination.  Yes, that will be dragged as showing they see the concern, but it would also show they take the concerns of voters seriously.

Either choice, Bernie or Biden, will give us someone who will talk up their own accomplishments and exaggerate what they have done and will do for people.  It’s incredibly unhelpful.  They are also both failing to show any legitimate humility.  If they really meant to be a unifying candidate, they would be seriously reaching out to the opposite flank on our side of the aisle.  Will Biden really listen to progressives and embrace what so many Americans want, or will he just shut out progressive voices?  Will Sanders work with moderates and Dem “establishment” or will he just shout and yell and say my way or the highway, never getting one inch of traction on anything he shouts about?

To suggest that either of them will be more or less flexible than the other seems questionable. I’m not convinced either of them will be truly inclusive, as they and their campaigns are actively attacking each other, instead of sticking to policy and saving the attacks for the real problem, Trump and the compromised GOP in Congress.  I don’t know about the rest of the undecideds. I obviously speak for myself only.

I could do with less attacks aimed at me for potentially supporting either candidate. Me supporting either candidate does not mean I want people to die, I want to screw over poor people, I’m not a true progressive, or I’m putting my ideological preferences over beating Trump. Supporting a candidate can mean many things, and that is something each person defines for themselves. I am really done with the in the weed debates that end up with the attack that if I don’t pick their candidate, they have the right to stay home and let Trump win.

We’ll see if either candidate and their campaign can tighten up the ship and effectively prove a unifying strategy and message. We’ll see if they can reach out to the other end of this big tent that is the Democratic party and the coalitions that are moderate AND progressive. We need both.  I’m a gen xer and I have both in my heart.  I was raised by boomers, but I want to make a better world for millennials. I want a leader who will listen to both, and work with both. I want a leader who is more concerned with what everyone else brings to the table, than bragging about what they bring to the table.

I don’t want them to just be better than Trump. When the bar is that low, we have to still aim higher.  I know these men are capable of it, but I am still waiting for one of them to really convince me they are listening.

I’m Keeping My Pinky Promise

No, I never got a pinky promise. I never got a selfie. I’m definitely heartbroken Elizabeth Warren didn’t make it to my state, but I know that the pinky promise is still there.  The promise to dream big and fight hard will persist.  The Saturday, before Super Tuesday, I set up to host a phone and text bank at my house. I got mini muffins, fruit, a veggie tray. I set up a pot of coffee and prepared for a day of training people and getting out the vote with Team Warren. 3 people came and I set them up to do texting. We talked about our mutual admiration for our candidate. I was online doing volunteer leader shifts, with the campaign in their slack community.

Sunday, I set up for another phone/text bank.  4 People had signed up, but no one showed.  I was online all day, doing volunteer leader shifts.  Nevertheless I persisted. 10 AM til about 8 PM.  I took off Monday and Tuesday, so I could again host GOTV events at my house,and spend the entire day supporting the campaign.  Tuesday was lit.  I was volunteered from 10 AM til 8 PM and I teamed up with another volunteer leader.  Together we help assign and re-assign texts to volunteers, all psyched to reach out to voters about this important election and why we believed Elizabeth Warren was the best candidate for the job.

One thing we were sure of, once people get to know Elizabeth, they like her.  If only we had more time.  I somehow got myself to tune out the news on Tuesday.  1 person showed up for my phone/text bank that day.  He got set up and we talked about the race. I put Elizabeth Warren’s YouTube channel on in the background, so we could be inspired through the day.

While this campaign didn’t get a fair shake in the media, and we didn’t get the outcome we wanted, I do not regret $1 spent or 1 minute of the time I gave volunteering with Team Warren. I was fulfilling my civic duty, and fighting hard for a vision I believed in. I still believe Elizabeth Warren’s records, and her plans, were the best shot we had right now of fulfilling the promise of our nation. It’s a promise that has yet to be fulfilled.

Wednesday I saw that we did not hit the mark in terms of delegate wins, and I knew what was coming.  I wished we could have had a hail mary delegate rush, but it didn’t happen.  Instead, I had volunteers reaching out to me on social media, texting me, and calling me wanting to know what was happening.  I conveyed that Senator Warren would make her choice, and we would know when she was ready to tell us. I respected that this was her choice, and I would support her choice whatever it was, and when she was ready to give it. The last thing she needed was to be rushed.

Thursday morning, I woke up to an overflowing toilet, water in the basement, and Elizabeth Warren suspending her campaign.  Great day.  I joined the volunteer call at 6, to hear from Senator Warren, and I read her statement. I sent some love to the staff and volunteers I got to work with on the campaign, and watched Rudy, like any sane person would.

I also took a call from someone working on a State Senate campaign. They are meeting to carry petitions this weekend.  I signed up. I know we aren’t getting the best candidate for President, but we must carry on.  Warren hasn’t endorsed anyone yet, and I respect her right to endorse or not endorse as she wishes.  I know we need to keep fighting and I will keep my virtual pinky promise. I’m going to keep dreaming big. I’m going to keep advocating for plans like the ones Elizabeth and her team crafted. They make sense.

One thing I loved about her campaign, is that she approached Booker, Harris, Castro, and Inslee, to ask if she could include some of their plans in her platform. I have no doubt she will be working like hell to get the next person to adopt as many of her plans in their platform as possible.  She doesn’t care about the credit. She wants the change. (I should totally write slogans).

Because I’m in a lot of Warren friendly groups, and knew Warren supporters, I read a lot of the chatter that Biden or Sanders should make her their VP, or have her be the next Treasury Secretary.  The option I liked the most, was flipping the Senate and making her Majority Leader.  Can you imagine how much we could get done for working families and the under represented, if we had Nancy Pelosi leading the House and Senator Warren as Majority Leader?  It would be phenomenal.

So there it is. We can still have big dreams.  We just need to be willing to fight hard for them.  We must create a coalition out of this primary, and we must energize the vote, so that we can win not just the Presidential election, but flip the Senate and win down ballot races. I will still campaign for the nominee. I will still volunteer for local and state legislative races. I am working out an outline for a course I want to offer in my community, to make voting more accessible to people.  My thought is to explain the process, how to look up your registration, how to register, checking for deadlines, knowing who your reps are, how to state in contact with them, and the state level voting rules.

I believe that patriotism is an act. It’s fulfilling your civic duty, and it’s something that is on each of us to do. In 2016 about 120 M voted, but 90M didn’t.  Until we get this government being truly run by the people, it will never be for the people.  I want to see if I can do my part to try to change that locally.  They say think globally, act locally, so that’s what I will do. I’ll volunteer to swing left red districts. I’ll work to register people and get out the vote, because every citizen should be paying attention and I want to make that more accessible to everyone.

I’ll keep on fighting, and I’ll leave teeth and blood on the floor if I have to. Pinky swear.

What a Super Tuesday

Being a volunteer on a a political campaign is an interesting experience. We spend our time reaching out to people who are registered to vote. Voter registration is public, and can be requested from any state board of elections or Secretary of State. I have been doing this for 20 years. I’ve helped to “GOTV” or get out the vote, on local campaigns, county level, district or state, and I have volunteered on national campaigns.

When volunteers like myself reach out to voters, we get a lot of common responses. Sometimes they support the candidate I support, sometimes they support someone else, sometimes they’re undecided, and then there are those who have no desire to be involved in politics, and everything is just so messed up there’s no point. Their vote doesn’t matter, and every excuse in the book is thrown out to not be involved. Sometimes people even tell me I’m wasting my time. They tell me to get a life.

It baffles me. What could be more important, than upholding our civic duty? This is how I show my patriotism. I participate in my government, I do my best to be an informed member of the electorate, and I uphold my part of ensuring that this democracy is by the people and for the people.

I am fascinated that people do not seem to draw the line between our government’s dysfunction and our lack of participation in it. If you owned a business, and I’m sure many of you have, would you hire someone and never check on the work they did?

Would you not tell them what you wanted them to do, while working for you?
Would you not require that they be accountable and transparent to you?
Would you not expect them to accomplish your agenda and not their own?

If they didn’t do those things, would you keep paying them or would you find someone else?  I imagine in some businesses, you might even do the job yourself. You might recruit someone and vet candidates until you found the right person. Someone moral and ethical. Someone hardworking and intelligent. Someone who speaks clearly about the challenges and offers good solutions. Above all, someone trustworthy.

A healthy democracy requires that all citizens pay attention to it, ensuring that their voices are heard, and that everyone’s voices are heard.  We are all meant to vote. We are meant to communicate with our representatives on matters that concern us. We are meant serve in the government if we choose. We can serve in public service, civil, government, or military. These can be callings for people, just like becoming a teacher, a doctor, a scientist, or an athlete.

Patriotism is not wrapping up in a flag, or wearing the flag as a piece of clothing in violation of the US federal flag code.

Patriotism is participating in your government.
Patriotism is fulfilling your civic duty.
Patriotism is taking pride in your government, and the work of the people who proudly served in it.

People who work in public service are not all corrupt, and they are not all bad. It is an excuse to people use, so they can absolve themselves of the responsibility to pay attention. I have worked with many representatives, public servants, or people who serve the public. I have campaigned with and for them, I have worked on issues with them, I have helped to find people resources to information or assistance that they needed, I have helped register people to vote, I have helped people find their polling places, get rides to the polls, and I have helped explain the system, so that participating in our democracy and voting can be accessible to everyone.

We can all do our part. At the very least we must pay attention and not roll our eyes at campaigns and elections. We can make them better but first we have to at least take them seriously. We have to stop listening to the pundits, and the polls, and the backspin, and the speculation. We need to look at each campaign as they are. We need to read their vision, their plans, and look for who really has the most comprehensive platform.

Please spend 10 minutes looking directly at each candidate’s plans for this country. Decide who has the best plan. Show your patriotism, by showing up and doing the work. We can’t control what anyone else does, but can choose to do our part to ensure our democracy is by the people, and that it includes our voice.

Elizabeth Warren: https://elizabethwarren.com/plans

Joe Biden: https://joebiden.com/joes-vision/

Bernie Sanders: https://berniesanders.com/issues/

If you want a quick way to compare the plans, I made this Google Sheet, comparing a handful of plans:

2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate Front-runners – Comparison of Plans (Google Sheets)

If you are wondering why there are some holes, I explain that here:
Let Me Make This Simple Democratic Voters

Choose wisely. This is your one chance to vote for the best candidate, nominee, President. The rest is just sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing. 
~ William Shakespeare, Macbeth

How Hard Will You Fight?

I often participate in get out the vote efforts.  To me, it’s our civic duty. I was posting about it earlier this week. If we want our government to be for the people, it must be by the people.

While I mean this for all citizens of our country, right now I’m writing this for my fellow Elizabeth Warren supporters.  We know how amazing she is.  She is intelligent, thoughtful, accountable, transparent, and effective as hell.  The problem is, it’s not just enough to support her. It’s not enough to just vote for her. We must be off the sidelines.

Tonight is an FEC deadline. Tomorrow is the South Carolina primary. Tuesday is “Super Tuesday” when 14 states, 1 US territory, and Democrats Abroad will be voting (What is Super Tuesday and why is it important?). About 1/3 of the delegates will be awarded.

Bloomberg has spent $500,000,000 already on ads, and he’s not stopping.  Warren tried to get everyone in the field to swear off Super PACs, but no one would, and so now she wants them all to disclose their donors, including the one backing her. She didn’t ask for this, and she will make it a priority to get money out of politics, but first we have to get her elected.

Right now pundits are consumed in their punditry, and when we listen to them we get caught trying to play that game. Who is electable? Who is “safe”? Who will beat Trump?  This distracts everyone from our true civic duty, which is choosing who will be the best President, not the best politician.

No amount of money can outweigh our votes.  The challenge we have, is to reach enough voters and convince them that we must Dream Big and Fight Hard, to get the democracy we want. A primary is the exact right time to vote for the candidate you want, not the one who you think will win now or later.

So what will you do tonight? What will you do this weekend? What will you do between now and Tuesday? What will you do between now and the convention, in July? If you aren’t sure where to start, that’s why I’m writing this. I meet people all the time, who want to help, but don’t know where to start.

Fortunately Elizabeth Warren has a plan for everything, and her campaign is full of amazing people. This is a link that has all the information you need to get going.

Elizabeth Warren Volunteer Toolkit

Choose the activity that you can help with, and read everything in the corresponding tool kit. There is so much useful information in there, and they don’t put anything in there that is not needed. It’s all great stuff. Any questions, feel free to ask and I will do my best to help answer them, or find you someone who can help.

There is also a handy donate button at the top.

😉

#LFG
#PresidentElizabethWarren