“Baaad” Teacher or “Badass” Teacher?

A teacher friend in the Fox School District here in St. Louis posted a sweet, jubilant photograph of herself and her buddies smiling big and holding a couple of protest signs on the morning of the historic Women’s March on Saturday, January 21st, 2017.

I will not re-share the picture because it was basically STOLEN without permission from the woman’s Facebook page. One of her supposed “friends” screen-grabbed the photograph and posted it on a local on-line group based in Jefferson County, Missouri.

Trumpists on the page immediately piled on with the glee of vicious attack dogs chomping a bloody steak. They began publicly shaming and denigrating the teachers in the photograph.  Damn were those comments ugly. They called the women a “disgrace” and questioned their ability and fitness to teach or even be around children (no matter that children were a large number of the participants at the Women’s March and they seem to have survived intact).

So many people shared the STOLEN photograph that the incident made the local news. Some of the women were chastised by their own schools as though they were naughty school childrenThere was a school board meeting. There was talk of disciplining the teachers involved. No matter that of the six women in the photo, only two were holding the signs and they are not teachers!

This quote on the local news website sums up what people were saying only in MUCH less offensive, ugly terms:

I think as teachers, being part of this community, they do not need to be so vulgar

I don’t believe the people commenting truly gave a rat’s ass about the “vulgar language” of the Women’s March. They certainly didn’t care when Trump said it in a sexist, misogynist and rapey context. They happily elected him President just the same. Do they seriously expect me or anyone else to believe they are *sob* SHOCKED over the word “pussy” for any other reason that women chose to re-claim the word and use it in a context of empowerment and yes … joy.

Do they seriously expect me to believe they are horribly distressed by women who went for a walk in their pink and purple hats on a gorgeous, blue-sky day? No. Of course not. What they were really outraged about was the fact that these women have the courage and independent force of will to exercise their constitutional rights; to demand freedom, equality and justice for themselves and for ALL minorities.

It’s an OUTRAGE, right?

The outcry about the teacher’s “language” is such a weak, pathetic deflection from much more urgent and pressing issues. It fits hand in glove with the utterly ridiculous, petty complaints about how the women didn’t “clean up after themselves” like good little housewives. Marchers deliberately laid down their signs in DC and Chicago as a conscious act of protest. It was a valid, world-wide political action. Not a freakin’ picnic.

This minimizing of women’s words and actions is just another ho-hum “get-back-in-the -kitchen” sexism used by extreme Trumpists who simply REFUSE TO FACE the glaring fact of their President’s “unpresidented” unpopularity. Not to mention the wholesale rejection of his policies, his worldview and their belief system; both in America and around the globe.

Teachers are citizens first. Yes Trumpists, it’s STILL a Democratic Republic (at least for now). We teachers are allowed to have a voice in the politics of this nation. We are permitted to express dissent. Not by the men in our lives, and not by YOU, but by the Constitution itself. NOBODY has the right to demand our submissive silence, moral purity and infantilization just because we are women who work with children. It is 2017 not 1817.

What angers me most is that these women, who marched in one of the most peaceful demonstrations in world history were dragged in front of school authorities and told that they were a “disappointment”. What infuriates me is that the false morality, the fake religious outrage and salacious nonsense on the JeffCo site not only risked these women’s right to freedom of speech. It put their careers at risk. What’s next? You wanna put a Scarlet “P” on all the teachers who dared to march? Dinnae be daft. We will wear it with the same pride we wore our pussy hats.

Word to the wise. You gonna be homeschooling your kids in a hot minute if you wanna fire every teacher who marched on that momentous day. Good luck with that.

The Women’s March had flaws, sure. We still have far to go in terms of racial inclusiveness and showing our absolute and sustained dedication to intersectional feminism. We still have to check ourselves and make sure we’re not only marching for ourselves but for ALL minorities. But quite simply, I cannot imagine a world where there was no Women’s March after Trump’s inauguration. Nobody can tell me that it wasn’t a spectacular beginning to what we hope can translate into a full-time, dedicated and unstoppable Trump resistance movement.

What I would like to say to the six women who were in that photograph, and to EVERYONE everywhere who took part in the March, or would like to participate in future political actions:

Let’s not be afraid.

Don’t be silenced.

Don’t be silenced.

dangerous_librarians

D’you know what? I love you better, now.

This morning, still in my fuzzy pj’s, I blearily open the blinds of the big glass windows of my apartment. The freezing rain from the supposed “storm of the decade” has become a dripping, pooling mass on the wooden slats of my balcony outside.

Ice from the oak and sycamore trees beyond, is melting too. The world is softly blurred, a slow fog, lifting. From out of nowhere I hear the whisper of the first lines of a favorite song in my mind:

“The light
Begin to bleed”

It’s been a long road since the election. An artist friend tells me yesterday, “I wonder if I’ll ever get over my current state of bitterness”.

Her words were the echo of a sentiment I’d texted to a friend a few nights before: “I’m still traumatized by the election. I gotta  admit it and face it. It feels like there is no moving forward, no healing from it.”

“The light
Begin to bleed
Begin to breathe,
Begin to speak.”

In November I’d written in my journal: “It’s impossible to write anything. Everything I thought I knew has been flipped upside down. Daily I try to wrap my head around it, to come to terms with it … My mind is hungry to understand, my heart is hungry to make peace, to find healing.”

Still I could not write anything beyond angry posts and snarky comments on Facebook. I could not find that place of peace or healing.

I responded to my artist friend, hoping to encourage her, but also to encourage myself, “Keep making art,” I wrote. “It’s important to bring more beauty into the world … always. That helps others heal too.”

This morning when my daughter went out to play with her friends I looked for, and found the song that had been echoing in my mind since I woke up:

“I am falling

Like a stone,
Like a storm,
Being born again
Into the sweet morning fog.”

To find art, to find beauty, I need look no further than my friends. They share intimate moments of goofiness and joy with their children and families. My photographer friends Vicki and Susie both captured pictures of the ice storm that were so beautiful that I asked for permission to post them here:

The seeds of peace, healing and love are contained within our own communities. Yes, in the moments of shared cat videos and silliness and joy. Maybe even more so in the moments in which we argue and clash and try to come to a new understanding of each other.

I thought that hope was lost in the election. I was wrong. I am beginning to feel hope again. I believe in the power of art to reveal the essential humanity in each one of us; to unlock the peace and healing  we all need so badly.

What do you think? Is this blog relevant to you in any way? How do YOU feel about the election and its aftermath? Has it affected how you believe, feel and perceive the world? How are you coping? Do you have any ideas about how others can cope?

“D’you know what?
I love you better now.

I’m falling,
And I’d love to hold you now.
I’ll kiss the ground.
I’ll tell my mother,
I’ll tell my father,
I’ll tell my loved one,
I’ll tell my brothers
How much I love them.”

I hope if you have time you will listen to the song, “The Morning Fog” by Kate Bush: