Advocacy is not for the faint-hearted. Advocacy is a strange roller coaster of similar and not so similar people jumping on a train before knowing how fast the car will go to its highest peak before it drops to its lowest and back and forth around turns until the ride ends with a stream of attendants encouraging you to come again or jump on the next biggest, fastest, meanest coaster.
New and experienced advocates suffer “advocacy shock” while their riding the coaster, shortly after or much later. Advocacy is change, change is a process and change includes all stages of grief, letting go of the past and embracing the future.
Advocacy shock impacts the advocate and society. Both are in shock wondering whether we move forward, stay where we are or push back.
Advocacy shock is the crossroad where someone realizes that the people they thought they knew are passionate enough about something to get mean and act completely out of character. Advocacy shock doesn’t feel productive because it is the bite and sting of dysfunction. However, it is part of the scary tunnel before our brand new world.
My Facebook newsfeed continues to clog with advocacy shock posts from Women’s March supporters and critics. Everyone defending why they did, did not, could not or would not march.
Not every woman in America chose to march.
We had a CHOICE. And we had the FREEDOM to make a CHOICE. Thanks to women who marched for us in 1913 and all the other freedom marchers, women have the FREEDOM to make choices.
So apparently 53% of white women felt the women’s movement went too far and are angry. They are willing to step back which they are free to do but the rest of us question why they want to force us to go with them.
The support and photos from my fellow marchers and positive articles about this historic event are up-lifting. But the posts with pictures making fun of marchers, body shaming marchers, reducing the march to a Madonna soundbite or declaring marchers un-American are hurtful and tiresome.
I’m not sure why I’m shocked. I went to the March knowing many in my church family felt all Christians had a moral responsibility to vote for our current president. They believe he will protect the unborn, prevent same-gender marriage and protect America. I understand the basis of their fervor and the scriptures they spout to support their “calling” to restrict their neighbor’s rights to seek an abortion or marry whoever they want. I disagree with their theology but that will have to be another post. And for those who don’t know me, I’m a pastor’s wife or ‘first lady’.
It wasn’t my first rodeo or my first protest. I was an advocate for children and domestic violence victims for many years.
I always felt I was doing God’s work but I often came into contact with people, especially Christians, angry and hostile towards anyone advocating for basic human rights for women and children to be safe in their own home. According to them God gave man dominion over both. It made me less enthusiastic to share my occupation with inquiring church members who either praised my work or declared I was the devil for destroying families.
I felt called to raise my voice after Tamer Rice – Say His Name! – Trayvon Martin -Say His Name! – Freddie Grey -Say His Name! – and Sandra Bland -Say Her Name! – were killed. Unfortunately, I knew why people were angry and hostile towards anyone advocating for basic human rights for people of color. And once again the church has a long history of twisting God’s Word to endorse white man’s dominance over people of color.
BLACK LIVES MATTER
I also understood why my friends in blue felt betrayed and defensive. I worked next to them to save children. We were a team. We were heroes.
Yet, my heart aches with truth. We may have been heroes and we had an important job but the system is biased to white America. I confess it is much easier to remove children of color from their homes than “white” or “pink” children. Also “white” and “pink” children were more likely to return to their families. And this wasn’t always in the best interest of the child but I digress. Even as an advocate, I was a systemic racism participant.
This is normally the get defensive and make excuses part. You know the litany; I’m not _______, I….
Excuses don’t heal relationships and don’t bring about change. We have so much further to go until America can truthfully proclaim freedom for all of her citizens.
I have further to go to rid myself of prejudices and attitudes and beliefs shaped by my education, my family, my community; and the movies, shows and other images that shape my thoughts, beliefs and attitudes. I seek real and not alternative truths.
The Women’s March wasn’t about moving forward.
The people who elected this new Administration elected to move back in time not forward. They elected to strip American rights from Muslims, Native Americans, black, brown and anyone else of color.
The people who elected this new Administration elected to move back in time to strip American women of their right to control their own body. The right to choose to have a baby or abort a pregnancy.
The people who elected this new Administration elected to move back in time to end same gender marriage and make discrimination against our American LGBTQIA community legal for “religious” reasons. And the list goes on.
This new Administration ran a campaign to take America back in time to undue many hard earned rights including the right to medical care for all Americans.
The people who elected this new Administration elected to move back in time to repeal the Affordable Care Act AKA Obamacare. The Act’s provisions provide protections for all Americans including my daughter who has Crohn’s and needs expensive treatment every six weeks.
While I wish the March was about moving forward, it wasn’t. Women marched to protect their rights, to send a warning cry to wake up America and stop us from losing the progress we’ve made for all people.
During his campaign our new President seemed to be reading from a rape culture script, boasting he could grab any woman he wanted without consent. His supporters may not support his offensive and brutish remarks but they chose to ignore them. These remarks didn’t stop them for voting for him. And many made excuses for his remarks leaving me drowning in a pool of tears and memories of being gang raped in college. I felt every tear was a call to do something. A call to scream. A call to speak out. A call to seek refuge.
A call to march.
I needed to march. I marched. For the first time, I marched for myself. I advocated for my rights. I advocated for my daughter’s rights. I marched to end violence against women and shed light on the rape culture. I have no regrets. I’m glad I was part of this historic event. I don’t expect everyone to understand or join us. You can stop, step back or move forward. I respect your CHOICE. But I won’t step back. We’ve come too far.
Will you respect my CHOICE?
What does democracy look like? This is what democracy looks like.