Yes, the day has come! I’m with her.

 

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Yeah, yeah yeah…uhh so four months ago I wrote a blog about my dislike of Hillary and why I wasn’t going to vote for her. Little did I know that my eight-year-old daughter and our cat were way ahead of me in their support for Hillary. Way back then, and boy does it seem forever ago, I was all in for Bernie. His grassroots campaign, the progressive values he represents, yes even his blustery speaking style, appealed to me over Hillary. I jumped on the Bernie train early on, so after supporting him this past year, I got teary when Bernie asked the DNC to nominate Hillary. I was relieved he handled the transition with grace, as I didn’t side with fervent Bernie supporters demanding a contested convention. Yes, even after DNC leaks. I was proud to vote for him, but more importantly, I feel triumphant to see the influence of progressive issues on the Democratic party platform. I am still a Bernie Democrat but as of this week, I am whole-heartedly “With Her”.

What tipped the scale for me was watching the Republican National Convention, and the amount of hate spewed directly at her was horrifying. I knew they disliked her but it got crazy. I cringed through just a few speeches, but watching Rudy Guiliani’s frenzied mania, the chants to “lock her up” and accusations of her allegiance with Lucifer was enough. My response was empathy and protectiveness towards Hillary. Watching all those white men freak out about her made it clear that I had to support her and fight misogyny. I hope the RNC knows how badly it backfired, I’m not the only woman to feel this way. I knew I had to be open to Hillary again, get geared up and even question some of my assumptions. I gotta clear a few things up, for one I didn’t mistrust her because of her emails or Bhengazi. I’ve been calling both of those investigations a witch hunt. But within the swirl of messages of distrust towards Hillary, I may have gotten a little more critical about her than I realized. I spent all of those months rooting for Bernie, and part of the conversation was to defeat Hillary. And it takes a minute to shift gears.

So, as I began to watch the Democratic National Convention I was already convinced to vote for her–but I still had some lingering doubts, things that bugged, a discomfort. Maybe I did want to be sold on her after all, and so I watched. Night after night as the DNC made a strong case, I began to feel enthusiasm and even hope. I agree with Barak Obama, when he said she is the most qualified person ever to run for President. I’m not letting her off the hook on a few key issues, namely her foreign policy (don’t worry I caught her allegiance to Israel). She co-opted Bernie’s platform, and I will be expecting her to come through on repealing Citizen’s United, reform banking, improve the health care system, and make college affordable. It’s a tall order, especially considering she will have her hands full with foreign affairs. And finally, I will do what I can to remind people to vote down ballot so the Democrats can gain control of the Senate. Like she said, she can’t do this alone!

I felt the DNC put on a rousing, entertaining and highly effective convention. The positive tone, the focus on love and togetherness was just the right message we needed to hear. Because it’s clear the country is gripped with anxiety, we’re not divided, we’re just afraid. And if there is one thing I know, there is nothing like patience, love, and a good long hug to ease negative feelings. Stronger together. I buy that message.

After watching four evenings of the Democratic National Convention I’ve come away the following observations:

  1. The Democratic Party knows how to work the system to win.
  2. The media is completely out of touch with America, and they suck, and it’s their fault Trump won, and they spread biased misinformation.
  3. I will not allow this country to be defined by hate.
  4. There are some amazing people in our country who’ve sacrificed everything.
  5. There is actually common ground between Democrats and Republicans.
  6. Who is Elizabeth Banks?
  7. The Twitterverse is gonna have so much fun with nice guy Tom Kaine.
  8. African-Americans using their preacher/sermon style is a force for good that is rooted in our country! It’s powerful and inspirational.
  9. I was aware of the emotional manipulation and it kinda felt good.
  10. I loved the crowd filled with so many shades of white, yellow and brown faces!

And I finally buy Hillary as a candidate. She took on the challenge to appeal to us Bernie Democrats and not just expect our easy allegiance. I know, my friends who are a long time Hillary supporters are probably bothered she had to make a case at all. But I think it made her a better candidate. I thought she nailed her speech. And I mean the voice of God, Morgan Freeman himself, reminded us that she is a mother, a fighter, and she sits in the kitchen and talks her daughter about her day. In her speech, she owned her smarty-pants style. She admitted to being policy wonk and said the details matter. Yeah, own it! She acknowledged there is work to be done to level the playing field, the economy is rigged, that the banks are too big. I’m going to rise above cynicism here and point out that last year she wasn’t saying these things, and she did precisely because of the progressive Bernie movement. I felt vindicated sticking up for my sad, last stand of a vote in the California primary.

We still have 100 days left of the campaign and lot can happen, and there is usually an October surprise of some sort. In 2008, when Obama was running, the whole world economy was in a scary tailspin in the Fall. And I fear we will have to endure a lot more negative campaigning before November. But, I’ve been making plans on how I can help assure that Trump doesn’t make it into office. I couldn’t live with myself if he did win and I didn’t do everything I could to stop his madness. He could have the opportunity to shape the Supreme Court and that just can’t happen!

And that’s just it, like so many parents we have our eyes on the future. I got emotional when I watched Hillary stand before a cheering crowd, and I thought about my eight-year-old daughter, growing up in her tween and teen years, with a woman at the helm of this country. At the end of the next two terms, my dear, smart, forward-thinking girl will almost be able to vote. She has already promised we could go to the voting booth together when she is 18. Now that’s a promise I will hold her to for sure. Yeah, just like Hillary there are a lot of promises to be kept. I think some of them can happen.

 

Protesting is not the problem

The past two nights, I’ve attended rallies in Oakland and San Francisco marching against police terror and violence. I chose to march to unify, to be a body in a sea of protesters, to bring attention and to call on Oakland City Council to reform our corrupt police department. I attended in solidarity, but I was also there to learn, to LISTEN HARD, to give space to ideas some may find uncomfortable.

A few of my white friends said “thank you” to me as they noticed I was marching. I get it, but I don’t want to be thanked. I don’t want to have to stand in front of City Hall, shedding tears as a mother wailed over the deaths of her sons. When you said “thank you,” I understood your sentiment. I think you want to do something but don’t know how? Instead of thanks, I’d rather if you’d join me at a rally exercising your protected right to assemble peacefully and demand justice together. We can listen, find new ways to engage. We can raise our fists together in defiance and anger, shaking them with fierce agitation against violence.

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Oscar Grant Plaza, Oakland Ca

Some of you may say, you call this peaceful? How can your anger bring peace? Why would you shut down streets and freeways and inconvenience others? This is no way to make allies, your angering and annoying others. Or maybe you think some of the speeches from the movement have a negative tone or sound scary, or incite violence. It might freak  you out out to hear ideas like ending the police, revolution, black self-determination, anti-capitalism and that’s a good thing. It should freak you out to learn that we have an unjust system!

I get why this all sounds too much, but we just had another really frightening week of violence in the US and I’m at a point where I want to shake things up, I want to something. I figure a little anger and outrage is due and this is why I marched on the streets of my city. Luckily a friend reached out on Facebook when she noticed I was interested and a protest buddy was exactly the last little push I needed to get off my butt. Like many, I have held back my actions because felt confused, maybe even a little complacent and cynical. This is about black lives. Not privileged Asian-American lives. Do I have a right to speak out, or to hold up my fist? Am I’m co-opting a movement? Am I’m just trying to attend a march to feel good, or assuage my guilt or sing “We Shall Overcome?”

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Oscar Grant Plaza, Oakland

Some of this may be true, and I’ve struggled with many conflicting thoughts the past few nights, rallying and marching in Oakland and San Francisco. And to those of us who have guilt in any form, what is the point of feeling badly it if we don’t act? Why would I sit home giving in to my pathetic guilt. The very least I can do is show up in solidarity, not expect thank you’s and stand with humility when facing my privilege. These have not been easy events, and I’m still coming to terms with what I can do. But like I said, I went to listen and learn. And I learned that the mostly young activists are pouring out their hearts, they’re tearing their souls open asking all of us, to feel outraged, to get out of our safe little houses hiding behind social media and act now. I also learned real quick that these protests are not about feel good messages that only serve to make you feel warm and fuzzy but don’t address inequality, racism, and injustice. You can’t fight for change in a corrupted and ugly system and hope it stays positive, especially when the negative is so grave. Of course, Martin Luther King Jr, said it best:

I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.”

You may worry that protesting and demanding change, revolution, pointing out the rigged system during this election cycle is not so convenient. It would be better for us if we could share positive vibes, so we don’t upturn the apple cart. I’ve also heard the argument that protestors are fomenting Donald Trump’s supporters. I recognize this tactic as means to keep voices muted. And furthermore, I feel strongly that if we don’t protest, if we don’t speak truth to power RIGHT NOW, we are obediently allowing his narrative to take hold. I recognize what is at stake, and the train has already left the station, we have the potential as a Nation to elect a very dangerous man to the highest office in the land. This threat is exactly why mobilization is utterly essential, now more than ever. The finger has ALWAYS been pointed at protestors, because of course, those in charge (the media, politicians, government, police) want quiet obedience.

Civil disobedience, as I put it to the audience, was not the problem, despite the warnings of some that it threatened social stability, that it led to anarchy. The greatest danger, I argued, was civil obedience, the submission of individual conscience to governmental authority. Such obedience led to the horrors we saw in totalitarian states, and in liberal states it led to the public’s acceptance of war whenever the so-called democratic government decided on it…

In such a world, the rule of law maintains things as they are. Therefore, to begin the process of change, to stop a war, to establish justice, it may be necessary to break the law, to commit acts of civil disobedience, as Southern black did, as antiwar protesters did.― Howard Zinn, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times

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San Francisco City Hall

 

And to this you say to me, what does a protest accomplish? You know you’re just pointing out the divide, you’re allowing the other side to use your arguments against you, giving fuel to their agenda. Bruce Hartford, a veteran of the civil rights movement defines “The purpose of Nonviolent Resistance is to affect peoples’ thinking and build political movements for social change.” And using this definition, I’d say that the current protests are achieving this objective. Haven’t you heard more about police shootings against blacks, seen more videos showing injustice, or seen more cops arraigned than ever before? Even if these cops are not getting convicted, we’re at least getting them to face a trial, and convictions will happen in due time. To overturn laws and policies that created a racist criminal justice system will take many years, a lot of protesting, direct action, debate, and re-framing. Part of what is making the change is the long hard work of activists directly engaging in civil disobedience, protests, social media campaigns. Yes, yes yes, it brings out the dark side, it’s angry, ugly, no fun, icky, and uncomfortable. And this is why I marched, why I had to get elbow to elbow with my neighbors and hear the words for myself, out in the open under a foggy sky. I took part to feel some of this;

In some circumstances and for some people, taking part in direct action is a profound expression of defiance and courage, for others it can sometimes be a living rejection of the conformist societal norms that previously governed their lives. In some instances, nonviolent protest can be life-changing affirmation of dignity and self-worth — I AM a Man — and a living experience and expression of human solidarity — I Am Not Alone. And, of course, actively planning and participating in a protest provides a depth of political education that no leaflet, speech, article or manifesto can match. –Bruce Hartford, The Onion Theory of Nonviolent Protest

So please, don’t thank me, join with me instead. At this point, I feel I haven’t done enough. If you’re thanking me, I know you have it in you to get on your feet! Marching and rallying is actionable, hopeful and hard (as it should be). If you’re worried or sad about all that is happening you can do something. At least lend support to those on the streets, rather than criticize or believe the inaccurate portrayals of protesters being rabid, angry, frothing, vandals that are out for destruction. You should go out once and see for yourself. I’m here to be a friend, and I’m sure there are others. Ask for a hand and we can face these challenges as a united front against injustice. Staying quiet is no longer an option.