For now,the factions of the left seem to have found an accord. But to regain any power in Washington, they will need to sway the center too–including some of those women who voted for Trump. The white women of the left, many of whom are just now finding their footing as activists, have been eager to dissociate from that group. Mention the 53 percent, and they’re quick to tell you that they’re of the 47. But of all the people who marched in Washington last month, they may be among the best positioned to reach across that aisle. “I know of no other time when it would be more important,” Barbara Smith, the black feminist and leftist, told me. “That’s not my work to do, but somebody ought to do it.”
–from the 2/12/17 NY Times Magazine article “How a Fractious Women’s Movement Came to Lead the Left” by Amanda Hess
Who are those 53 percent of women who voted for Trump?
I attended a town hall meeting yesterday sponsored by the Retake Our Democracy group here in Santa Fe. It was informative and quite frightening at times. A woman who teaches listening skills got up and said “Either we are all going to die, or we are going to learn how to live with one another.”
After about an hour, the room broke up into discussion groups. The choice was between a “Rattle the GOP” group (by far the most popular), a “Community Conversations” group, a “Youth Outreach” group, a “Cultural Outreach” group, and a “Soda Tax” group (this last one convened to discuss taxing sugary drinks in order to fund a universal pre-k program).
I chose the “Cultural Outreach” program because because my other choice–“Rattle the GOP”–just felt like tapping into more of the same perpetual outrage “we all” live and breathe now.
“Cultural Outreach” was a small group of about ten people–mostly white women over fifty. We went around the circle and introduced ourselves. The only skill I had to offer was a pitiful command of Spanish. (Earlier a politician had announced that there was a dearth of Spanish translators when it came to important legal documents.) Others spoke of the Native American and Muslim communities they were peripherally connected to. A Mexican-American woman emphasized how much fear immigrants are in.
Then a woman of color spoke up and said “outreach” was exactly the wrong word. Before you just enter our communities, you’ve got to undercover years of your own conditioning to the “invisible” tenets of white supremacy. There has to be trust, and it takes a long time to build that trust. She suggested getting people to come together over food or through art projects. There was absolutely no need for “white knights” to come in and save the day. This all made perfect sense and I was glad she had spoken her mind.
Then I read the NY Times article and it resonated–especially the words, “Mention the 53 percent, and they’re quick to tell you that they’re of the 47. But of all the people who marched on Washington last month, they may be among the best positioned to reach across that aisle.”
Is it my calling to hang out with conservative white women who voted for Trump?
Would that make an impact in the undercover spirit of Barbara Ehrenreich’s “Nickle and Dimed”?
I don’t know, but it’s a bizarre notion on the verge of an idea.