The Women’s March people have been putting together followup events since the Inaguration. This month’s is a Huddle. The website lets you find Huddles near you.
I, as you might have gleaned from my social media, have been really sick. Some sort of chest-plague-thing from hell. I am mostly over it, but I’ve lost my voice. This makes me too sick to WORK, but perfectly well enough to go do other things.
So, yesterday, I went to my neighborhood Huddle.
Where it was:
My closest Huddle was at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, a few blocks from my house. A perusal of other Huddles in the Twin Cities reveals that a lot of them were at people’s homes, or in small coffeeshops. A fair number were in churches. A few people I spoke with said they ended up at St. Matthew’s because the Huddles closer to them were in smaller venues and filled up.
This Huddle is in my neighborhood. I mention this because my neighborhood is demographically white, with small groups of poc largely in conjunction with the university. We also have a small but significant group of immigrants and resident aliens, again, many of whom are associated with the U of M. We’re also primarily single-family detached homes, but there’s a certain amount of renting and subletting that goes on. We have a strong and thriving community, with strong local-and-locally-owned businesses, as well as seasonal neighborhood events that are well-attended. People are engaged and aware.
Who was there:
The organizers, all from St. Matthew’s, anticipated ten-to-twenty people. About seventy RSVP’d on the website. About eighty-five showed up. I saw two people who presented as male, and three people who I would hazard are people of color. About 3-6 folks looked obviously younger than me, about 15-20 my age more or less, and the rest were probably older. (I will note, two of the younger women were also two of the people of color. Thank you, black feminism, for representing even in my neighborhood.)
Roughly 75% of the people in the room were first-time activists. For these people, the Women’s March was the first thing they have done, other than maybe signing some petitions or donating some money. All of them said, “I just feel I can’t do NOTHING.”
What we did:
People sat around tables, in rough groups of 6-8. We introduced ourselves, and spoke briefly about what brought us to the event.
The organizers introduced themselves, explained they were all desperate introverts who have never done this before, and gave us the first activity.
We envisioned the future, four years from now, and wrote down as a group what we hoped for. Then, as groups, we talked about what we would need to do to get there. Each table briefly presented their results.
We watched a video of folks from the Women’s March in Washington, with some inspirational words from the national group.
We each brainstormed upcoming events — political, social, artistic — through April 30th that are happening locally, and put them on a wall timeline. The organizers said they would compile the results and send it to us all in an email.
We then each picked ONE thing to focus our energies on for the next few months, and wrote it on a sign. Then everyone held up their signs. We all meandered around the room, coalescing into smaller groups based on common interest. Each sub-group made a list of names and emails, and turned it over to the local organizers for them to use to make smaller email lists.
At that point two hours had gone by, and most of us had to leave.
It was very heartening to see SO MANY people determined to not take this administration lightly or quietly. And, these are basically comfortable white women. There’s not a TON of risk factors in this group, other than “women.” But I met educators, and journalists, and artists, and librarians, and so many of them are just angry and frustrated and worried. They are angry that children are afraid of our government. They want to be people who are on the side of good, and they (we) have a certain amount of power and privilege to throw at the problems.
There wasn’t a ton of focus. I’m hoping that this will change, that focus will grow. I mean, this was the first meeting! I hope that we can organize around specific action items.
There was a great deal of concern for immigrant rights, Native rights, rights of people of color — but all from a white point of view. It’s what my neighborhood has to work with. But, more positively, there were a NUMBER of calls to make sure we LISTEN to more marginalized and threatened groups, and help in the ways that help is wanted.
Y’all … these sixty-year-old white ladies are really pissed off, yo. And they have time, and they have privilege, and they have grandchildren to defend.
Overall, a good start.
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