FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
As I sat in a local NYC hotel lobby, exactly one week after sitting on the same couch just 24 hours after hearing the testimonies of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh in Washington, DC, I can still hear that 30-something-aged white man, seated no more than 10 feet away from me, shouting at the top of his lungs, “Make America Great Again!”
I yelled back at him in a spontaneous rage of fury. I can’t really remember the exact words I used in retaliation, but I know they were filled with anger, loathing, and contempt.
Yesterday, however, when Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed as a Supreme Court Judge, I fell silent. I had no words. I was also completely void of any anger or rage. I understood. Yes, I calmly and finally understood.
How could I expect others to support women like me when I did not step up, or kneel down, in support of others when they needed me? I am a white woman; I am a Jewish woman; and I am a gay woman. So I take to the streets as a protestor, to my pen as a journalist, and to the airwaves as a radio show host when I witness the slightest tinge of bias against any marginalized groups of which I belong. But where was I, as well as untold numbers of other white women and men, when the #BlackLivesMatter movement was not only taking shape, but taking to the streets, throughout this country? Although I supported their mission, it was from afar, instead of publicly and deliberately walking alongside them.
This is unacceptable. After all, black women are largely responsible for the start of the feminist movement, a movement that all women benefit from today. Further, as San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, now famous for taking a knee during the national anthem, said, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way,” Yes, it would be selfish, indeed.
And although support for Dr. Ford and protests against Kavanaugh were larger and more sustained than many demonstrations in US history, we still had no choice but to hope for a ‘hail mary‘ on the Senate floor yesterday. Yet, as we know, ‘hail marys’ usually don’t work in football, and they often don’t work anywhere else.
And that is exactly what Republicans have consistently been able to count on; that demonstrations will be too little, too late, and that most members of a marginalized community will often protest to support only those that represent them, rather than banding together as one for all. If we did, Republicans would lose, every single time.
So this time, instead of distancing ourselves from each other, and rather than pointing fingers at pro-Kavanaugh voters like Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY), remember, they are not solely responsible for this week’s results. It is a collective effort, and we all must share some of that guilt.
I’m therefore asking each of us, and all of us, “Are we willing to take a knee?” “Are we willing to stand in protest?” “Are we willing to risk arrest to not only stand up for the rights that personally impact us, but also for the rights of others who are oppressed?”
If we think it’s too late, it will be so only if we never start.
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Lori Sokol, PhD