Into Action

I need to confess something. After a year of making a lot political art, I was feeling tired. When I stitched that portrait of Erica Garner, I wanted to get it right. To honor her memory. To never forget. I cried a lot. I was starting to wonder if maybe I could stop for awhile, just make cute or pretty things. Things that didn't make me weep for the world. I'd scroll through Instagram and miss making silly things.

But then we went to LA and got to see the Into Action show. I've never felt so sure about the path I'd chosen, never felt so inspired. Moments after having the wind knocked out of me by a painting called "The Most Deadly Week in America," I turned to this pieced by Yolanda Guerra, eyes already filled with tears and felt my heart overflow with love.

This is why we march. * I grew up the youngest of nine children. Six girls and three boys. As the youngest, I lived in a bubble, insulated from expectations of what it meant to be a young Latina, until I became a teenager. The piercing of the bubble began when I was 13 in the early 1980's, on a weekend morning when my brother, who was in his twenties, with high expectations told me to iron his shirt. * "What?" I said dumbfoundedly. * "Iron my shirt. I have to leave soon," he said. * "Iron your own shirt," I said determinedly. * My brother was surprised by my response. * He was emphatic: "You are supposed to iron my shirt." * "Supposed to?? Says who?? I am not going to iron your shirt," I said. * "Iron my shirt," he continued. * Hearing us arguing, my mother stepped in and sided with my brother saying that I need to iron his shirt. * "¡Hazlo," she said. * "No, I am not going to. He is old enough to do it himself," I replied. I added, "Why is he still living here?" That question seemed to rip the buttons off his wrinkled shirt. The arguing continued now with both my mother and brother. Even in my doggedness, I felt a sense of desperation, of something being imposed upon me, a constraint that I could not be free from. * My father had been quietly listening as he sat in the kitchen finishing up his breakfast. He walked into the area where the ironing board stood and where the arguing was steaming. He said to my brother, calmly, as if something out wrinkles with his voice. * "Times have changed. Mija doesn't need to iron your shirt." This unexpected gift given from my father was a profound love and respect that pressed me into me. Strength, will, and power of protest. I was free to be. * @yolandaguerra23 Love, Strength, Will, and Power of Protest (Little Iron Vagina) * INTO ACTION closes this Sunday, January 21. For details visit our website (link in our bio). #intoaction * Photo: @baha_danesh

Also, they had a room where you could literally smash the patriarchy. Or at least a dish with the word "White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy" and it felt amazing.

Then, as if I needed any other signs to keep at it, while passing through Oakland, we saw this:

So, if you need me, I'll be smashing the White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy - with art.

I Want a President

A couple of years ago, I read Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A.S. King. Glory is a young woman who has just graduated high school and suddenly finds herself with visions of the future. That future is bleak. A civil war has broken out in the US over women's rights, which have disappeared. Women are taken from their homes, interred or sold as property. Glory wants to know how to stop it. It is a wonderfully written, deeply unsettling novel. Unsettling because it is a dystopian future that seems entirely possible. The Hobby Lobby decision had just come down from the Supreme Court. Women's reproductive rights were being threatened in many states, there were police shootings and mass shootings in the news far too often. The real future was seeming pretty bleak.

Twenty four years ago, Bill Clinton was running for president. I was a high school senior thinking about constitutional law as a career and I loved Hillary. She grew up in the Chicago suburb just south of where I grew up and she was so smart, so accomplished. I thought she was a bad ass and really wished she was the one running for President. It seemed impossible. 

Sixteen years ago, I got into a fight with a friend over Ralph Nader and we didn't speak for years. Everything seems so volatile with this election and I didn't want that to happen again. I've mostly stayed quiet. I didn't want to make waves.

Eight years ago, Barack Obama ran for President. He hasn't been perfect but President Obama has delivered the hope that Bill Clinton promised during his first Presidential race. Change felt possible for the first time. Si se puede. 

A few months ago, I broke down and cried to my husband. I admitted the election scared me and I told him about how I couldn't stop thinking about the civil war in Glory O'Brien's History of the Future. I was sad about Bernie but I had to vote for Hillary. I've learned so much about her since I was 18, much of it not good. Sadly, she would no longer be my choice for the first woman President. But she is the devil we know. Trump is hateful, unpredictable and underqualified. He scares me. This country feels like a powder keg and he's about to light the match under the guise of Making America Great Again. 

Yesterday, Roxane Gay wrote in the New York Times, "It is crystal clear that a Trump presidency would lead both the United States and the rest of the world into a dystopia the likes of which even the darkest of novelists cannot fathom." 

Two days ago, I was riding home from work after hearing vague reports of the Trump/Billy Bush tape all day at work and I was catcalled at a stop light. I cried when I arrived home and found all my internets overflowing with Trump and sexual assault accounts when all I wanted to do was sit on the couch, looking at pictures of corgis, embroidery and drag queens and forget that man ever spoke to me. 

But I couldn't. I was so angry. I don't usually cry over cat callers but this one felt particularly viscous. When I actually read the news, after hearing it third hand all day, it felt like he was emboldened by Donald Trump to talk to me that way. I mean, if a man running for President can talk to and and about women that way, why couldn't this guy? 

I can't stay quiet anymore and I'm not alone. If you've spent any time in the world the last few days you know this. Brave women have been shouting about sexual assault for years but it feels like there's been a signal boost the last few days. It is simultaneously infuriating and empowering. I mean, here I am, typing for the first time in months.

Today, I am afraid that if Donald Trump wins it would be open season on minorities and women. Unlike Glory O'Brien, I know what I can do to stop imminent disaster. Vote for Hillary. And start making waves now for the future. Because we deserve better candidates than a racist sexual predator and the lesser of two evils.