I Sleep With Both Eyes Open, Standing Up, Alone and Holding off the Rust

(Title courtesy of Dessa, whose new album has some of the best storytelling I’ve heard lately)

Following the Shelby decision today (SCOTUSblog, Rick Hansen’s prediction that this would happen), my twitter feed is a-flutter with people who are in despair of our powerlessness to protect the civil rights of people around us, to fight back against a Congress who wants to pretend there is no racism and no longer any fall-out from our centuries of denying Blacks full citizenship, who cloaks hatred of a stereotyped Hispanic in “border security”, which believes that all the gains women have made in reproductive freedom and equal pay are a bridge too far.

We’re brainstorming, as best you can in 140 characters, while you’re supposed to be working, about what we can do. One writes: “The laws I want to fight do not affect me and are not near me. I need to find a way to help, from hundreds of miles away.” Another Facebooks video of herself yelling “Take that anger to the polls” at the Texas General Assembly. One suggests talking about it longer than a Twitter news cycle. Another jokes about convincing Matt Lauer to ask Paula Deen about the Voting Rights Act.

I have my job, which right now has some projects concerned with fair elections. I have my volunteering, my small regular donations to both service providers and policy advocates supporting what I believe in.

But every day it feels less effective. Every day a court, some other governor, another legislature, one more alderman approves a policy or project that I think is harmful or rolls back protections I think are vital. Each week, I learn another way that our systems harm us. Some of them big things, some of them small, but all of them accumulate to make a world unlike the one I thought I lived in.


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