Empowerment is a word I often used. No more. Yesterday at the Women’s March on Sacramento I stood in the cold as I heard a woman representing the disabled community say that telling someone you are empowering them presumes that you are in possession of their power … and that in fact, this puts them in a subrogated position.
As you know, I worked in corrections for a long time. During my years inside correctional facilities, I always wondered why three people could control a housing unit filled with 100 men. I did not work with women, but its the same concept. What was it in our “authority” that caused our wards to allow us to manage them. There were many times when these young people did act out and group disturbances occurred. Usually, these instances happened when the groups had a change in their own internal pecking orders, or more likely when they felt that they could no longer trust the staff to keep them safe. They acted out more when they were worried about their well being, feeling perhaps that they had to take matters into their own hands.
As we marched, I asked my friend, if there are more of us that didn’t vote for Mr. Trump, then we out-number those who did. If there are that many of us, why did we give away our power? Why did we allow ourselves to feel safe and protected without maintaining an eye on those we trusted with our very lives? We should have done more to help the president move us forward, past the obstructionism. We should have done more to get out the vote.
I have been gnashing my teeth and wailing since before the election. A very close friend of mine looked me in the eye and said, “Maybe this is God’s way of getting our attention. Maybe this is the only way that things will change.”
Nail. Hammer. Head.
I realized that my grief over this election was caused by my reliance on President Obama to watch out for what I believe in. He was the voice I trusted and my the voice that best echoes my sentiments. The days just before the inauguration he seemed to be around but only to thank the nation and say goodbyes. Meanwhile, Mr. Trump continued to voice his priorities and became louder with his rhetoric and bravado. He started to more openly show his preference for the rich, his disdain for social justice or social constructs that do not benefit his rich cronies outright. The vetting of his cabinet members began, and the world was privy to their backgrounds, their preferences, and their lack of concern for the country they will purportedly lead. I literally looked around to see if Mr. Obama would step in and respond. Perhaps he could come back and protect us, even if just with a few words.
Of course, the most valued ritual we have in this country is the peaceful and orderly transition of power. There is no way for our beloved President to interfere with that process. For the same reason that Mrs. Clinton’s campaign would not contest the suspected voting irregularities, and why we should all still be screaming about the Russian intrusion into our election process, Mr. Obama would not be anything by graceful and careful in his comments about the new administration; the transfer of power is sacred and our way of remaining unified in the face of world scrutiny and threat.
The truth of the matter is, as long as we refuse to watch out for each other or fail to put on the face of unity, we will always be weaker and more vulnerable. Inmates know that. Yet, we squabble over agendas that are issues of choice and allow these squabbles to cause a rift in us over issues of survival. We expose the weaknesses in our unity and by doing so weaken all our causes. We cannot allow stratification and self-sorting to take precedence over the ultimate prize, the pursuit of happiness.
The peaceful transition of power is also the reason that I and many Americans felt grief over the loss of a decent man as leader and the despair over the impending inauguration. There was simply nothing that could or should be done about the inauguration of this new President. Our long history of peaceful, orderly transition of power can not and should never be interrupted. Mr. Trump is the POTUS. That’s that. In that sense, we should “get over it.”
But oh, there is the day after. The day we gather together and roll up our sleeves to begin to minimize the damage until he and all his elected supporters, and those who do not fight the good fight against him, can be removed; midterm elections will be here soon.
So now that we have to face that our world of security and liberty is endangered, we are called to action. We will rise and protest, organize and participate, volunteer and create assistance for those who can’t, and, we shall vote.
I, like many of my friends, will no longer wait to be empowered. It’s already in us. It’s in the hearts of our younger generations and it is in the memories of those who fought before us. We were born with it, we just have to learn how to use it.
I will use my voice in every way I can. I will no longer silence myself in front of one of my “employees,” voted into their job. Nope. They work for us. They have to listen. I will not ask permission to be heard.
I will dig in my heels and refuse to go backward.
I will not allow distraction, lies, and talking heads to confuse me. They seek only to remove my power.
I will pay attention, and help others pay attention as to how our “employees” perform. If they aren’t doing their job as expected, then I will use my power to vote them out.
I shall not be a prisoner of my own making.
I shall stand tall in my power.
A special thank you to the women and men who stepped up to organize our local Women’s March on Sacramento and all over the world. You used your power wisely.
To those reading this, thank you for listening.