showing up in hamtramck

Hamtramck, Michigan’s emergency protest against Trump’s executive order.

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During the past two years, I sat out a lot.  I had a clerkship that required political neutrality, so while I felt especially drawn to Black Lives Matter ally work, I never felt like I could be caught on camera protesting.  I also wanted to spend any extra time I had with my baby and husband.

When the 2016 election season was in full force and my job had ended, I also skipped out on diving into election work.  While I was watching my baby become a toddler, I leaned on others to do the protesting and writing and lawyering, work that I knew needed to be done.  I believe that sometimes we have to sit out a round in order to be kind to ourselves.  But most of the time, we need to show up.

While in Detroit for my Mom’s birthday, I read about Trump’s reckless executive order banning many Muslim immigrants from entering the U.S.  I got a text of outrage from my sister, who is an entrepreneur in Detroit, and later a text to see if I wanted to meet her at the rally in Hamtramck today.   So I went.  I was grateful that she had held me accountable and was proud to be part of something important.

Did you protest the ban?  How?  Where?

 

we are immigrants

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Friday was a dark moment in American history. After ousting top officials at the State Department, the president issued an executive order broadly construing his presidential powers to keep Muslim immigrants out of our country.

My husband is a Muslim immigrant.  My daughter is the grandchild of Muslim immigrants.  This country is made up of immigrants and refugees and those seeking asylum.

In his order, the president appealed to fear and xenophobia and racism, citing the 9/11 attacks to recklessly rupture U.S. relations with countries in the Middle East and elsewhere.  The order imposed a 90-day suspension of immigration to the United States from certain predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen (note that the perpetrators of 9/11 were from none of these countries).  Greencard holders in those countries were blocked reentry to the U.S. The order also placed a 120-day ban on entry of people with refugee status and barred Syrian refugees indefinitely.

This resulted in crisis for many.  People flew into the U.S. with their refugee-status visas and personal possessions and were detained rather than allowed to enter the country. Those who have obtained visas and remain outside of the U.S., but who fall under the order’s sweeping provisions, may not use their visas to enter.

This is un-American.  Where we board up our shores and wall our borders to those seeking refuge or opportunity here, we alienate important allies and strengthen our adversaries. Most importantly, we lose sight of our values that gave us the Constitution, ensuring rule of law, equal protection, and checks on power.

I am heartened by the outpouring of support protesters gave to those detained at the airports, by the ACLU attorneys who challenged the executive order, by the courageous Federal Judge Ann Donnoly who stayed the order, and by the journalists covering this and announcing where and when protests are happening.

These are the moments when we must offer our minds and bodies and voices to create change.   We must cash in on our education and privilege and show up.  We must teach our children to be kind, informed, and passionate.  We must garner strength from the hope that came out of Friday’s events, support each other, and forge headlong into tomorrow.  No matter how big the adversary, for our Constitutional values to prevail, we must never give up.

required reading

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I began reading to my daughter Mimi right after she was born, eager to share a love of language and books.  On those long, wet winter days during my maternity leave, I would cozy up on our couch in a room full of natural light, open up Shel Silverstien’s Where the Sidewalk Ends or Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s memoir My Beloved World, and we would read together until Mimi had a need that shifted us elsewhere.

At fifteen months, Mimi plucks a favorite book off of the shelf, hands it to me, then turns around, slowly backing up until she can plop down onto my lap, eyes studying the book as we open it together.

Books are the toys we value most so we have a lot of them.  There are a few, though, that speak to raising a strong little girl who is proud of who she is, kind to others, and full of imagination.  In today’s climate these books feel particularly important to introduce early and often.

And they were particularly helpful in spurring early conversations with Mimi about the Womxn’s March we took her to this weekend in Seattle.

A is for activist by Inosanto Nagara

Courduroy by Don Freeman

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury

Rad American Women A-Z by Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein

One Word from Sophia by Jim Averbeck and Yasmeen Ismail

A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena and Christian Robinson

Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio and LeUyen Pham

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts

What books would you add to this list?

why we marched

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To My Fierce Little Lady,

We marched in the Seattle Womxn’s March today as a family.  We joined over 120,000 people, many carrying creative signs and wearing handmade pink pussy hats.  In Washington, D.C. over 500,000 people marched, and many, many more marched in cities around the country.  (Your aunt said that the march she attended in Detroit was a spiritual experience.)  

These are trying times that challenge even the most hopeful spirit.  On Friday Donald Trump became the president of our country.  He has consistently used his financial and political power to bully people and the press and, I fear, now, other countries, failing to take responsibility for the harm he creates.  He has been publicly racist, sexist, bigoted, and hate-filled.  He plans to fill his administration with self-interested, wealthy business leaders who in some cases do not believe in the protections the agencies they have been nominated to run are meant to enforce.  The spate of Senate confirmation hearings last week heightened my fear that we may be facing attempts to completely dismantle government services we take for granted, like a public school system.

Trump has a Republican House and Senate and a vacancy to fill on the Supreme Court, which would in many cases provide a fifth and deciding conservative vote.  (And let us not forget that this was President Obama’s to fill when Justice Scalia died in February of 2016.)  Because of this consolidation of power, Trump is certain to undo years of progress in civil rights, climate change, education, healthcare, immigration, reproductive justice, campaign finance, and more.  He threatens to undo the fundamental pillars of our democracy.  He has shown consistent disregard for rule of law, and enters his presidency in direct violation of the US Constitution’s prohibition against presidential conflicts of interest due to his massive and intricate business dealings he will not give up in a manner that resolves those conflicts.  He has aligned himself with foreign leaders who employ abusive tactics to maintain power.  And he lies openly, compulsively.  

It was important to me to share today’s historical march with you because I want you to understand that even in the face of all of this, you have a voice and your voice matters.  Your brown skin and female body and multiracial and multiethnic background mean that you will experience sexism and racism and at times you will feel defeated.  In those moments I want to remind you of this one.  Today young people like you, of all colors and creeds, joined their moms and grandmas and great grandmas to send a message to the world and the new administration.  Today we showed with our collective power our resolve to be heard.   We told the new president and his supporters that we will challenge policies and practices that harm those already at society’s margins.  We said that in the face of pervasive incitement of fear, we are not afraid.  

Love,

Mom