Each month I have the privilege of surrounding myself by brilliant women and discussing how we can do more for our community. I am a member of my city’s Women’s Commission (if you are thinking about becoming more invested in your community, I would highly suggest joining a board or commission). The women on the Commission are of varying ages and from different walks of life, but are all charged with the same task. We are asked to examine issues that pertain specifically to women and to examine how community-wide issues may affect women, specifically.
Last night was our first meeting since the election. We opened the meeting with an invitation to share our thoughts and feelings around the election. Many of us shared our grief, our anger, and our confusion. We openly discussed the idea of white privilege and how that impacts an individual’s vote. We admitted that many of us feel this privilege; we were raised in white, middle class households, but that our gender alone reduces this privilege and creates barriers. We shared thoughts on how the results of this election will affect (and is already affecting) the LGBTQ community, minorities, and women. One of the hardest moments of the discussion came when one member of our group shared her fears around her daughter not having the opportunity of a better life. It was hard for me to believe that after eight years of having a black president, we were discussing a lessening of choices. We were talking about a contraction of rights, not an expansion. We were talking about going back, not moving forward. I don’t have children, but the reality of this left me speechless.
Near the end of our discussion, an important question was raised. The question was, how do we create a dialogue with those who voted for President Trump? Members of the group freely admitted that they were not ready for acceptance, not ready to understand the other side. Others were considering how to interact with family members that felt differently. And finally, it was acknowledged that some issues are non-negotiable. Again, this revelation left me speechless. We don’t always have to compromise. It’s okay to draw a line in the sand. There are polarizing issues that truly don’t have a middle ground. We can seek to understand, but we don’t have to seek to agree.
Our conversations were difficult and provoking. My act of kindness, though small, was to bring a sweet treat to the meeting. Food can lift spirits and my act was to offer a small treat to everyone. It was my way of expressing gratitude for this amazing group of women that together create a safe place to explore these challenging issues. We need these spaces to express our feelings, to relieve ourselves of the anger we’re feeling. To help us obtain the goal of spreading love, not hate.