The election of Donald Trump galvanized me, and I realized I had to take responsibility for the state of the world. In proportion to my role in it, of course, which is very small. Accordingly, I spent the past year trying to figure out what I could do. I quickly realized that I had also better figure out what I could do without losing my own mind.
The biggest step was running for office. I set out ignorantly upon this journey, and I will be forever grateful to everyone who supported me, trained me, volunteered for me, donated to me, advised me, and so much more. I am especially grateful to the more than three thousand people who voted for me. I am sorry I couldn’t win for all their sakes, and bring a fresh progressive voice to the Framingham Board of Selectmen, but in retrospect that might have turned out to be incompatible with my second goal, which was to not lose my mind.
The horrendous police killing in our town of an innocent unarmed man, Eurie Stamps, happened back in 2011, before Black Lives Matter was a thing. My shock and horror remain vivid, and were intensified by the racist rhetoric of the current president of the United States during the campaign, and the increase in public bigotry and violence that has accompanied it. Paul Duncan, the officer who shot Mr. Stamps, is still a Framingham police officer, and president of their union. I don’t understand how this can be, and at the same time, to those who are aware of how fundamentally white supremacist this country is, it’s the completely obvious outcome, and my white naivete is risible.
I donated $50 to BLM in memory of Mr. Stamps, and then was disturbed to learn that this is the going rate for police killing black people. I attended BLM vigils, joined Framingham Coming Together, and generally started educating myself on racial injustice in America. Another significant factor in my awakening was the posts of a bluegrass friend of Asian descent, Bryant Tow, describing on Facebook a racist attack on him in Boston; thank you, Bryant, for putting yourself and your experience and activism out there. That sucks. Yet another factor was reading The Case for Reparations, by Ta-Nehisi Coates. And I have definitely had my consciousness raised by Didi DelGado. I owe her some money… though I have donated to some of the causes and people for whom she requests support.
I attended the women’s march in DC on January 21, 2017. It was exhilarating to be part of a multitude of people opposing the plutocracy in solidarity. Reading about the march before and after was my first exposure to the concept of intersectionalism. And the famous photos of the black woman holding a sign saying “White women voted for Trump” was an eye-opener. It’s true, 53% of white women voted for that creep. My god, white people, and especially white women, WTF?
So all this is a long-winded way to say that I learned a lot about racism in America in 2017. And yet… in a meeting of FCT, led by a dynamic and powerful black male activist, for whom I have deep respect, I watched the male leader of SURJ (Stand Up for Racial Justice), a man of color, interrupt and talk over an African-American woman. As a white person, I feel it’s my job to shut up and listen in this group, but as a woman I was disgusted and angry. She and I made eye contact. We knew. It didn’t seem to bother any of the men, though.
And there was Our Revolution. I was a member, I was excited to attend the state convention.