Thursday, December 14, 2017

Roy Moore Can Suck It

Dear Helen,

Two days ago, Roy Moore barely lost an election to represent Alabama in the Senate. Roy Moore is a man who has spent his life being as nasty as possible. It's like he wakes up each day and rather than deciding how he can add value in the world for a lot of people, decides who he's going to take a crap on in order to preserve his circle of white men, who at least used to provide him a solid wall of protection. Roy Moore was defeated because black women voted in record numbers and almost none of them voted for him. I wish I could say the same thing about my white sisters, who did vote for him. Shame on them.

Here are just a sampling of things that might persuade reasonable people to know that Roy Moore is not fit to serve in any place that comes into contact with the public. He has declared that Muslims ought not be allowed to serve in Congress. He believes the last time America was great was when slavery existed. A number of credible women have come forward to report on his predatory behavior when they were teens (and this one was the one where I could almost taste my own vomit, because it brought up the related stories that there are a fair number of people who practice fundamentalist strains of "religion" TODAY and they are not been kind to women - believing it's OK for older men to find very young teens to groom to be their perfect mates). Yes, people think that way. He was removed as Alabama's chief justice for defying an order to remove the Ten Commandments statue from the rotunda of the Alabama judicial building. He believes we ought to kill gay people in the name of protecting their kids. And that our country would be better with only the first 10 amendments. Yes, that means he thinks we shouldn't be able to vote. He does all this in the name of religion.

And now, two days later, he's refusing to concede he lost the election. To borrow a term from my youth, this makes him a class-A a**hole. (And no, I do not know the distinctions between other types of a**holes, but I still find this expression funny.)

Why do I bring this up? Because I had high hopes that you, my daughter, would live in a world that was freer from discrimination and harassment than those who came before you. Maybe you will, but I'm never certain. Just when things seem to be turning around, a man like this runs and gets so close to being elected that my heart stops. Just absolutely stops beating. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. He should've lost 100 to 0.

But I did want to highlight a lovely experience I had yesterday juxtaposed against all of this. I'm on a National Academies professional panel studying an issue I'm interested in right now. We had our first convening meeting and there were two women (one of whom is leading the panel) who are at least 20 years older than me - and do you know what they did when they were introduced? They not only shared why they were part of the panel, but they made a point of highlighting research from me and other younger women in the room, that they had found so helpful. It was obvious to me what they were doing. They were laying down a little mark for everyone in the room that I was supposed to be there, despite not having spent as many years focused on the issue. It was a kind gesture. And it wasn't lost on me that my male colleague to the right of me and several others blathered on about how great they were, without a single nod to anyone else. Women are building coalitions focused on holding each other up.

I mention this, because I am completely convinced that the way women will lead the next revolution (and I do believe it's coming, but I don't know when!) by building other women up. And so I invited two young women in another center in my own organization to submit a proposal with me to fund some work they are interested in doing.

I know that I have been very lucky in my career to have women mentors and bosses who, when the rubber meets the road, will defer to my opinion as appropriate. I have had bosses who, recognizing that I'm unlikely to have a big fight in a staff meeting, will come to my office after the meeting to get my side of the issue - and then acting on that. I cannot imagine how devastating crossing paths with a Roy Moore must have been for so many.

Roy Moore, and others like him, are the reason that when you come home and tell me you were asked to transcribe numbers for a boy in your class I'm mad. Because I know that this is just a subtle message to you that you're good enough to be the recorder, but might not be good enough to do the actual work - which is just not true. Lucky for you, your homeroom teacher agreed immediately and stopped the practice (which was occurring in another class).

So I guess this is a long-winded way of saying - no matter what happens in your life, please look to other women to get your back, and please be willing to get the backs of others. We are all in this together. And while my generation may have failed yours (and I will never be able to express how deeply I regret this), in the end, maybe your daughter will grow up in the world I imagined could be yours - if we just stick together.


Tuesday, December 5, 2017


It seems as if I have, once again, let this blog fall to the wastelands. The quick update is:

I ran the marathon, only a little bit injured, and came in barely under 4:15, making it my slowest marathon yet. It was hot. I melted. But I realized once again how lucky I am to have met my running friends. They are truly the best people in the world.

I spoke at a local school board meeting, attended more office hours with Connor, and it all came to what feels like a very positive head a week ago. The school board took a full hour to discuss the option of putting intensified classes in the middle school - something I've been working on as part of a committee for a few years now. With fingers crossed, there might even be the option of a pilot next year. But surely, surely, we'll get this win before Helen hits middle school.

Last night, Connor volunteered at the school system's hour of code. At first, he was assigned a job attending a craft table, and this about broke him. Unfortunately for him, I was in the midst of what can only be considered the most dramatic moment of my entire career, and I just did not have the capacity to step in and try to solve this problem. So I told him - email them back, tell them what job you would prefer, and see what they say. He crafted a polite note, ran it by me, and sent it. And guess what? He got the assignment he wanted. How's that for self-advocacy? And more than that, one of the school board members he had visited and had a robust conversation with saw him there, came up to Connor, and said "hello". Little dude was thrilled enough to text me.

Helen's school musical will be performed Thursday and Friday. It's been another great experience and hopefully the school will continue the collaboration. If not, it's been a wonderful ride. I had hoped to pass off my role as parent liaison to another parent next year, but the parent who volunteered isn't sure she'll be here next year (job change for her partner), so I'm back to square one looking for a new volunteer.

Odyssey teams are up and running. That is a drama I would love to avoid in the future - so I announced I'm quitting my role as coordinator effective at the end of this season. I was supposed to have help recruiting, but a few days before the meeting, the person who had volunteered to help became unavailable. It snowballed downward from there.

Professionally, my life was devastated when a giant tax cut that gives almost no help to low- and middle-income families made its way through the House and Senate. Time to breathe deep and regroup.

That's the quick rundown so when my children look back, they have a tiny sense of what happened in this gap.