by Amy Siskind
crossposted at The New Agenda
Where were you a year ago today?
A year ago today, I was in New Hampshire volunteering for Hillary Clinton’s campaign. I was bundled up in my warmest parka, snow boots, gloves and hat. I was canvassing from door to door knocking and handing out brochures.
A year ago today, I was a lifelong Democrat. At every election – be it a national, state or local election – the Democratic Party could count on my vote. I would blindly pull down the lever for the candidate with the “D” next to his or her name: never taking notice that the candidate with the “R” or “I” or “G” might be a woman.
A year ago today, I was the lone person at work who would admit to voting Democrat. I was chided and teased. I was called a sucker that did not “get it.” I fought back with pride each time. I was proud to be a Democrat. The Democratic Party was the party for equality and helping those less fortunate. The Democratic Party was the party that stood up for women.
A year ago today, I believed that the women of this country were on an upward trajectory. That with each passing year we were making progress in politics, business, academia and sports. That any setbacks were but small speed bumps on the way forward.
A year ago today, I believed that by time my daughter or her daughter were grown-up, there would be equality of the sexes in this country. In fact, this was so self-evident, that I did not give it a second thought.
And then came the Democratic Primary. And then came the grave mistreatment of Hillary Clinton while the Democratic Party stood idly by, or cheered it on. And then I saw. What I saw was not anything new. What I saw had been there all along. But I just hadn’t seen it. Or maybe I hadn’t been willing to see it. And then I was awakened.
It’s when you are canvassing the projects in North Philly asking for a vote. And you happen upon a woman who lives in a tenement whose windows have been replaced by cardboard boxes. And when you knock to ask her for her vote, she cries instead about raising her child alone. And her son is in trouble at school. And no one will listen. And no one will help.
It’s when your 5th grade daughter’s friend gets into your car after school one day. And her friend is crying because a gang of boys had acted out on her. And the girl is told she is a “bitch” and a “whore” by a pack of circling boys for breaking up with their friend. And then you see that it starts very early. And then you notice the familiarity of those words as having heard them in prime time on the cable news. And then, with eyes now open, you realize that you can no longer sit at the sidelines and still live with yourself.
And so a journey starts. And so you choose to put everything else in your life aside. And so you choose to fight for the woman in North Philly and the 10 year-old girl. And so you do your best every day. And so you speak out and stand up when others will not. And so you endure criticism from the left, right and center. And so you close your eyes and sigh when the very women you vowed to fight for are your loudest and harshest critics.
But you know you cannot go back. That what has started must continue. That this has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with those without a voice. And so you battle on day after day. And so, in the quiet moments, you remember the tears of the woman in North Philly and the 10 year-old girl. And in your quiet moments, you are thankful for the awakening. And in your quiet moments, you vow to battle on and not stop.