Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Be the Best of Whatever You Are

Today could be a good day or a bad day or a great day as we await the midterm Election results. Like a lot of people, I have been anticipating this day since November 9, 2016 after I woke up at 2am to what I thought was my worst possible nightmare. So I wrote this declaration as a promise that I would dedicate myself to the effort of voter participation and engagement.

As I reread that piece, I recall the defiance and the despair I felt that day as I snuggled with my then-toddler daughter. How I had to comfort the Hub when he returned from his work in the fields as an election monitor, because he was so distraught about the world that had just been upended. How I became addicted to cable news again. How I then kept writing over the next few days and weeks: (1) a postmortem of missteps from my #busyblack perspective; (2) a pep talk to restore my sanity; (3) skepticism for the post-inaugural Women's March; (4) gratitude to the Obamas; and (5) a renewed sense of inspiration and optimism after attending the Women's March in New York City.

My goal after the Women's March was to do everything I could to help change the political tide that had knocked so many of us down on Election Day 2016. But, life...so let me start by listing a few of the things that I haven't done as of today, November 6, 2018. I did not get to work a shift on the Election Protection hotline because of scheduling. I won't be able to do any mobile election monitoring because my daughter has the day off from school for parent-teacher conferences. I did not get to travel to Georgia to stump for my Spelman Sister, Stacey Abrams because I didn't go to Homecoming (again). I haven't been able to attend that many political events on weekends or in the evenings because of varying commitments for parenting, caregiving, or otherwise.

I could look at all those things I haven't done and wonder if later this evening, I will be blaming my inability to do more as the reason why I'm drinking heavily and crying. In fact, I had intended to upload a very sad picture with a post to my Facebook page to that effect because I was feeling a little depressed yesterday (Monday) about my inability to make my life fit to meet certain objectives. I mean, I am the Busy Black Woman, dammit!

But as I sat at my computer to write about what I was unable to do, I remembered the title of a poem that I had memorized as a child (which is also the title of this piece). Here is a link to it, and as I recited/read it to myself, I realized that I had no reason to wallow in a malaise of unaccomplishment (and surprise, that really is a word). No, I didn't do several of the things I had hoped I would have a chance to do. Some of the projects I attempted did not gain enough traction or momentum. And yeah maybe I am feeling a little less than because I am comparing myself to others, but let me restate my title--I am the Busy Black Woman, dammit!

I didn't sell any Busy Black Women vote tees, but let's be honest, I am not a tee shirt vendor. My blog isn't set up with any e-commerce capabilities, and I don't know enough about promoting and marketing because I am a writer. And I have written a LOT over the past two years, so I feel very confident that I have stated my case about the need to participate in this election cycle. As for my inventory of unsold tee shirts, well, they will still be available. I will continue to promote my message, which I have been doing since this summer. And true to my word, I made a $50 contribution to National Voter Registration Day anyway.

Speaking of National Voter Registration Day, no I wasn't out in the streets as I had intended. Instead, I joined with members of my sorority to support their planned voter registration effort at a local high school where we were able to register four young people. I take great pride in that number because after 30 minutes of sitting idle waiting for students to come to us, I just began to solicit them. We also gave away several forms to students who expressed interest, so that is encouraging to me. By 2020, we will have a better plan.

I led the Voter Engagement Project at my church which included the panel I organized for our Social Justice Weekend, the articles I wrote for our Social Justice Defender newsletter, the presentations I gave to a various groups of members, and the reflection I quasi-bungled back in January (because I overthought my remarks in light of having to follow the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II). I wish I could have been more successful at implementing some of the outreach plans I had outlined at the beginning of this programming year, such as the adopt-a-precinct project; however, I am satisfied that I can take a few months off knowing that I did all of that on my own.

I really wanted to help my Spelman Sister out by taking to those Georgia streets, but I've been donating to her campaign every month since earlier this year. I also donated to other campaigns and causes, so I feel pretty good that I was able to support the work of other who are on the ground doing the grassroots work.

Although I can't work a physical Election Protection shift this year, I can send a few text messages to voters today. I can continue to tweet messages about the Hotline and inform people how to contact them if they encounter problems at the polls. No, I won't be able to attend any campaign events this evening with my daughter in tow, but we can watch the election returns at home together.

I had to be reminded what my best is supposed to be. My best is to show up when I can. My best is sometimes a solo project that impacts a small number of people. My best isn't to be an eloquent preacher; it is to provide an honest reflection or to write an article. My best isn't to create a viral social media campaign or to sell a lot of tee shirts--making the effort and trying might be enough. My best may never result in seeing my name as a candidate on a ballot (because I have a big mouth and a past), but I can always chip in a few dollars. Finally, my best is to VOTE and to encourage others to do the same.

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