Roles of Engagement (8)

Responding to Charlottesville — The Fight-or-Flight of Activism

By the time you read this, I’ll be in Alaska. Or maybe we’ll all be dead by then, reduced to ash thanks to a man who can’t bring himself to condemn Nazis, but can wage war via Twitter. At this point, I’d honestly just like some type of resolution. Are we going to be obliterated or not? I’m exhausted from worrying about our imminent doom all the time, and it’s creating dark circles under my…

Do Maine Dems Understand the Stakes?

I’m writing this column from the oppressive heat of Washington, D.C., so I hope you’ll excuse me if this comes off a little cranky. I was born here, at the private, non-profit Columbia Hospital for Women in 1985. Originally founded in 1866 as a charitable hospital for the desperate, pregnant wives of missing Civil War soldiers, the hospital closed permanently in 2002. You can now buy a two-bedroom for 1.5 million bucks in the wing where…

Hold On To Your Humanity

About a decade ago, I made a conscious decision to try and be more kind. The choice came on the heels of a particularly nasty argument I’d had with a friend from college, one where my words were so thoughtlessly cruel even I had a hard time being around myself in the following days. In the misery of my self-imposed exile, I decided that I couldn’t continue as I had been, and promised myself I’d…

Why Are Women Still Looking for Witches to Burn?

A few weeks ago, I went to Augusta for “Women’s Day at the State House,” an event presented by the Maine Women’s Alliance. After scouring my closet for the suggested red article of clothing—I found one, but latex is not State House or even outside-of-my-house appropriate—I settled on a black dress and black coat and black leggings because, honestly, that’s just where I’ m living these days. I think this perpetual mood is best described…

Finding Hope With A Seat at the Table

At the end of March, I applied to attend a dinner event promoted by the Treehouse Institute. As part of a three-month long series known as A Seat at the Table, a concept invented and implemented by Portland's Chanel Lewis, the dinner represented an opportunity to engage in difficult dialogues with fellow Portland residents concerning a variety of issues. The series featured several meet-ups open to the public, occurring in casual spaces with an emphasis on discussing complex…

Stay on the Offensive

A week after the Women’s March on Washington, I self-published a piece that was largely critical of the event. I’d attended with reservations, noting at its inception that the March was leaving women of color out of the narrative as well as the organizing hierarchy. That changed as the event grew and Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez, and Linda Sarsour assumed leadership roles on the March’s national committee, but I retained a healthy dose of skepticism.…

Killer Mike and Chance David Baker

Last week, as I was leaving a lousy Tinder date at the Top of the East, I ran into Michael Render in an elevator at the Westin. Better known as Killer Mike, one-half of the critically acclaimed hip-hop duo Run the Jewels (RTJ), Mike became a familiar figure to less rap-inclined voters after endorsing Bernie Sanders in last year’s primaries. His enthusiastic support led to viral talk show appearances where he spoke passionately about racial…

Alternate Activism

If there were any remaining doubts about the veracity of President Trump’s campaign promises, they have been quickly dismissed by the past weeks’ events. Executive orders targeting refugees, “sanctuary” cities, the Dakota Access and KeystonePipelines, the Affordable Care Act, the so-called Mexico City policy (also known as the Global Gag rule), and the border wall, among others, sparked global outrage. It was both heartening and incredibly depressing to see the scale of our indignation played out…
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