I felt numb to the headlines I was seeing from Washington D.C., so much so that the first time I understood the true weight of them was when Nick sent me this text while we were both at work:
As a rule, any message that involves the phrases “Oh my fucking god” and “What the fuck” is not a good one. Nick’s shock made sense to me though. I had already read these headlines as the U.S. appointed a special counsel to investigate Trump following his firing of FBI Director James Comey:
Since the election I’ve shifted my news consumption habits in large ways. Prior to November 8, 2016 I would be inclined to check CNN or listen to Rachel Maddow on MSNBC. Today, I see those sources (including the NBC affiliate I used to be a reporter for in Kentucky, WLEX) as tied to the corporate powers that have perpetuated the struggle for equity in our country.
Today, the first thing I do is check an array of local print and online sources in Seattle: Crosscut, The Seattle Times, Seattle Weekly, and The Stranger. I’m following local politics closely. Next, I check Jacobin which is a socialist narrative on what’s happening. Finally, I look at The Washington Post headlines, and if I have time, I read a few of their stories in full, on my phone.
These historic and explosive allegations about Trump’s White House trying to obstruct justice are not surprising. They’re expected. I find myself not so much angry as dreadful of what’s to come. Even if we go through with impeachment, I have no confidence that the Democrats can do anything to get us to a better place. I have lost confidence in our political system, in the form it currently exists. Something big has to shift. So, my dread comes from wondering if we’ll finally start to make the kind of necessary big shifts to change our system to be more equitable, or if we’ll do what we’re so good at—going back to capitalist business as usual.
Part of the reason it feels like this major national news is not my first priority is because in the ten days since I was released from jail, I’ve been solely focused on local campaigns and organizing with my neighbors. One of the most urgent campaigns is Washington Won’t Discriminate which is fighting against a concerted, moneyed, and statewide attack on our transgendered friends and neighbors.
Washington State Initiative 1552 is trying to repeal protections for transgendered folks. It is a measure that:
- Writes discrimination into state law.
- Would make it illegal to use the restroom of the gender you identify with.
- Would allow people to fine businesses and schools $5,000 if they allow people to use their preferred-gender bathrooms.
Initiative 1552 is discrimination. And, it’s getting five-figure donations from area churches. It’s paying people to be out canvassing at Wal-Marts and other stores to gather the 300,000+ signatures they need to get their initiative on the voting ballot this November. This is their second attempt to get Washington’s version of a “bathroom bill” on the ballot. They failed the first time, but we fear they might have gained more force under our current political circumstances.
Already I’ve heard stories about trans folks we know who are being severely impacted by the weight of the campaign itself—hearing about it in the news and having to organize the fight against it. This is in the midst of so much trans hate coming from our White House, and especially from Republicans. It’s all taking an extreme toll on those of our neighbors who make up this marginalized minority.
This is serious shit. And, it is beyond me that we are even having to have this conversation or fight this fight. Why are people spending time and money trying to strip one of the most marginalized groups in our community of protections?! WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?!?
I had dinner with my friend Daniel, who I’ve told you before is a role model for me in terms of being an activist and leader. He invited me to his house so he could cook a belated birthday meal for me. Over dinner, we talked about the Washington Won’t Discriminate fight against I-1552. He told me it was important that I show up and signal my solidarity at a campaign event the following morning. So, I woke up early on a Sunday and went to the event in south Seattle along with some of our neighbors. We were also joined by Mayoral Candidate Nikkita Oliver, former Mayor Mike McGinn, City Council Candidate Jon Grant and current Councilmember Kshama Sawant.
The event, organized by Neighborhood Action Coalition, rallied volunteers to go out and collect signatures in support of the trans community and their legal protections. Here are some pictures I took of the event:
I’ve also spent time over the past ten days planning a community outreach event for Mayoral Candidate Nikkita Oliver. I’m working with my neighbors to create a “listening post” for Nikkita in June where we expect about 200 of our neighbors to show up for a question and answer session with her.
I’ve also spent several days over the last week with City Council Candidate Jon Grant and his campaign. Mostly I’ve been going door-to-door canvassing for him in a couple Seattle neighborhoods. Next week I’ll be the leader on one of the phone banking nights. It is so important that we elect another bold, socialist councilmember.
In the midst of all these activities since January 20, I’ve stopped going to the gym for the most part. I paid a full-year membership to Arcaro boxing gym, but have only been a few times in the past couple months. I am feeling it, I’ve gained a few pounds. However, I do walk at least a couple miles a day since I don’t have a car so I’m not completely inactive.
It’s been a busy news week. Here are some of the other headlines, including another person entering Seattle’s mayoral race, State Representative Jessyn Farrell: