I can’t believe January is over! I mean wasn’t it yesterday we made promises to each other and to ourselves. To live better lives this year. To do more. To be more. To be present. Now January is here and gone. The newness of 2016 is slightly faded; there is a luster but it is not so bright.
Despite the departure of January, I am still excited for the year ahead. In January, I enjoyed myself a lot. Sure there were moments of anxiety and deep thoughts. But there were also moments of levity. Read more
I have a very frustrating day trying to be politically active. Mondays tend to be a long day for me anyway. I start my day at 4.45am. Get off work. Go to the gym. Work out. Then change quickly and run/walk to train station. Pray train is on time. Get on train. Get to campaign office. The transition between end of work and campaign office is 90minutes. I have been about 10 minutes late once or twice. Then, I pray that we actually know what we are doing. This has been my Monday for the past 4 weeks or so.
I am not complaining. I am ranting. Is there a difference. I don’t know. I just know that I am home on the verge of tears and I can only write about how I feel now. I am tired. I am hungry and I am heartbroken. Okay, maybe I am a tad bit dramatic.
Monday has become a dramatic day. From crying spells on the phone with my friend because I am too exhausted to find my way home to feeling abused and ill-used. The day really started to go down the drain when I arrived at the office and realized we were understaffed. The regular coordinator was no where to be seen. Campaign staff were closed off in their office. I am sure they were doing important work.
And I sat there unsure of what to do. I actually arrived on time today so that made it doubly disappointing to sit there unoccupied while everyone sang a chorus of I don’t know. Oh well, its a small campaign office. Things are what they are.
Okay, let’s get on the system and start dialing. I seem to get a series of bad calls. From the yelling on the phone to the “I am having dinner!” Please don’t be picking up your phone while you are having dinner. If your time with your family is truly sacred, you would disconnect from your phone and focus on the meal. My calling is not the problem. Your answering the phone is the problem.
Then there was the “Oh, I don’t understand you!” crew. The man who exclaimed, “are you speaking Spanish?” That just further annoyed me. But my day was truly done when this old woman decided to tell me to “speak softly” What the fuck does that mean? “Speak softly” That phrase/statement rubbed my soul the wrong way.
This is not the “OMG! I am volunteering, you should not talk to me that way.” This is the “I am a young black woman trying to use my voice and be politically active” rage. This is the “I feel diminished because no one else got told to speak softly!” This is the “I feel embarrassed I got told to speak softly.” This is the “are you telling me that I am too much” rage. This the “I feel embarrassed to be told that I am loud or too harsh” rage. This is the ” you just took a happy place and turned it into a place of anxiety” moment. This is the part where I don’t want to return. Can I quit? Does it look bad on me if I quit now because I can’t handle this.
Maybe I am over-reacting. My first instinct is to quit. Walk away. Who cares? But my sister said to me at the beginning of my shift, “Do Your Part.” I will do my part even though I know I will probably be anxious for my next shift.
I feel like I have been having a coming out party. I moved to the United States in the post 9/11 as a young black Muslim woman. My parents in their love for their child advised me to pray privately and keep my religion to myself. For much of my college years, until I move to England for graduate school, almost no one knew that I was Muslim.
I feel like in the few years I have grown to learn that is not important to be accepted by others if they don’t accept me fully. The things that make up my identity are not some dirty little secret. I have moved closer to my Nigerian accent, reclaimed my stories and spoken the truth about my food. Sometimes that means having uncomfortable conversations that highlight something that may considered a deal breaker by others. It usually comes about in the discussion of food. Since I don’t eat pork or drink alcohol for religious reasons, I often out myself at communal dinning tables.
As I watch the political climate of fear-mongering, I realize that unless I keep outing myself, I am a part of the problem. There are bits of me that wants to hide again because I don’t want the experience of dealing with people’s prejudicial self. But the thing is a larger part of me realizes that it is important to fight back. I speak my truth now because it is mine to speak and no other person’s.
For the longest time, I wasn’t sure that my truth mattered. In my insecurities about the usefulness of my own voice, I chose to be quiet. But no more. No more biting my tongue because I am afraid to hurt feelings. No more letting people put me down, personally or as part of a larger discourse. My truth matters, therefore I will be part of the discussion.
My dad asked me why I was volunteering for Bernie Sanders’ Campaign. I hadn’t really thought much about it because I just wanted to do something different at first.Then I realized that I am doing it to be part of the discussion. I firmly believe that in order for voters to make the best decision there has to be a healthy discourse. A healthy discourse only happens why there are more than one viable candidates at the table. I am making calls to ensure that Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton can have a healthy discourse with occasional input from Martin O’Malley.
I guess the Democractic primaries are also low stake for me because of the craziness on the Republican side of the aisle. At the end of the primaries, either Clinton or Sanders will have the ticket. Then the real battle begins. And I intend to use my voice until the end.
Tell me in the comments in what ways you are making your experiences count.