I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus and there have been a number of reasons for this; over-committed, over-stressed, under-rested, and now, overwhelmed. But somethings have happened that have energized me. I quit a job in a wildly abusive environment, my country has been shaken to its core, and I’m already watching people be hurt. I have energy, and I have resolve and two incidents have helped to bring me to this point.
On Facebook, I came across a photo of a small girl with Hillary Clinton. The little girl was wearing a shirt that said, “I’m Not Bossy, I Have Leadership Skills.” Both were wearing enormous smiles. I couldn’t stop looking at it and finally decided that it defined where I was and how I wanted to feel about things, cropped it, and turned it into my profile picture.
It went viral. It was shared (at last count) well in excess of 800 times. Somewhere around 80 shares I got a message from a woman named Jennifer who lives in SC. Jennifer was thrilled to have seen this picture cross back via her social media to her because, you see, it was her picture, her daughter. Sullivan has been a fan of Secretary Clinton since the previous year. At the age of 4 she insisted on dressing as her for Halloween and then, in a wonderful but fateful moment, met her hero and had a photo taken of the two Hillaries.
She’s gone on to see and meet Hillary four times, including the time that produced the photograph I was using, (she’s now five) and adores her and sees her as her hero. She has been a focus of how much it means to girls and women to see a woman of grace and intelligence, committed to blazing a trail.
Then yesterday I saw a post from Jennifer. One of the pictures of Sullivan had been grabbed and turned into a deeply hateful meme that was being spread across the internet and Jennifer is horrified, frightened, devastated. It’s the original picture of Sullivan – Age 4 at the time – with her hero. The attached text is not only misogynistic, it is racist. It is graphic and it is hurtful and it is full of lies. I cried.
My best friend received an email from his children’s middle school.
This evening, we have learned that some of our 6th grade students were chanting “Build the wall! Build the wall!” at different times during the school day today. While we’re quite certain the students who were chanting did not intend to intimidate or make others feel unwelcome, given the underlying meaning of the phrase they were chanting and the strong feelings and opinions that were evoked by both candidates during this presidential campaign, one can understand why this chanting was perceived the way it was.
Sixth graders. Spewing exclusionary hateful rhetoric. Using the power of numbers and self-righteousness to lay a groundwork of superiority and intimidation.
My whole life has been about me acquiring the skills and knowledge required to support this country in moving toward compassion, awareness, communication. I will not let them go to waste. I am going to give my whole self toward building bridges, quieting minds, and softening hearts, whether it’s a companies, schools, or groups. I will give myself to teaching others to do the same – I can’t do this alone. But I will do this. This is the time for me to share what I have spent a lifetime accumulating; it is my responsibility, my duty, my pleasure, and my mission.