The simple power of raising your hand

Our doubts are traitors, and make use lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt. ~William Shakespeare

Always do what you are afraid to do. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Last week was the first week of school.

We spent the week like most families – absolutely frantic with meetings and school supply sales while fitting the last kiss of summer into the little bit of time we had left.

And then – just like that – summer was over.

And as I walked my little guy back into his now-familiar school building, I got my first whiff of Elmer’s glue and crayons and fresh pencils. Ahhh! The promise of a new school year…

It was as if I was transported in time, back to my first grade piggy tails and favorite cowgirl shirt.

And of course it got me to reflect on my own school experience.

To say I loved school would be an understatement.

So it probably won’t surprise you that I was a bit of a … errr … precocious child.

When the teacher would ask a question (any question), my hand would shoot up into the air on its own accord, straight as an arrow and still as a statue. Waiting. Waiting to be called on.

Sometimes, honestly, I had no idea what the answer to her question was when my hand shot up in the air.

But I had come upon a simple fact in my early school years – something that’s stayed with me over time: it’s less the answer – and more the attempt and commitment to answer – that matters.

I knew that no matter what I said, I’d get credit for trying. And I also knew (after having had my hand up in the air so much I’m surprised I didn’t lose sensation in my fingertips) that something incredible would happen when I’d commit myself to knowing the answer.

Because after raising my hand and being called on, my brain would go into an overdrive fueled by adrenaline and primal fear.

So that even if I didn’t know the answer when my hand shot up, more often than not I’d magically find it before (or right as) the teacher pointed in my direction. (Or I’d be able to muddle through a solid and logical attempt.)

So much the same now, folks.

Nobody – and I mean nobody – has all the answers.

But there are some folks out there – like you – that have raised their hand anyway. Not because they’re *sure* of their answer, but because they’re sure of their commitment to finding it.

To figuring it out.


Two-and-a-half-ish years ago we were confronted with a situation that nobody had ever expected or experienced. Did we know what we should do right away? Certainly not. How could we have?

Did anybody else know what we should do right away? Certainly not. How could they have?

But the simple act of raising our hands and accepting responsibility for finding the answers spurred on a movement the likes of which this country has never seen.

You raised your hand. And I raised mine, just like my little piggy-tailed favorite-cowgirl-shirt-wearing-first-grader self would have.

And here we both are, continuing to show up and recommit to finding the answers. Week after week, month after month – and now year after year. That’s pretty spectacular. Isn’t it?

Hands up. Chins up.

Let’s get to work.

Actions for the Week of August 20

Tuesday: Sign Up for How To Be An Anti-Racist

Once again, the ladies at Supermajority are providing a super interesting resource.

One of the co-founders of SuperMajority, Alicia Garza, co-created the Black Lives Matter Global Network, launched the Black Futures Lab, and built a multiracial movement for gender equity at Supermajority. As she puts it, “I’ve learned along the way that it’s not enough to be “not racist” — if we’re ever going to live in a world with racial equity, all of us need to be antiracist.” 

So how do you be an anti-racist? Award winning author Ibram X. Kendi wrote a book about it, and on Wednesday he and Alicia Garza (superwoman described above) will have a webinar addressing that very question. It’s on Wednesday, August 21 at 9:30 a.m. ET.

The webinar describes Ibram’s book How to be an Antiracist, as identifying “the difference between policies that are racist and policies that are antiracist, so that readers can understand the effects of both on power, biology, ethnicity, culture, class, behavior, gender, space, sexuality, and more.”

Sign up via this link:

Wednesday: Book Club!

Join or sign up to host a book club event on August 29th with with All On The Line. Not familiar with them? “All On The Line is a national campaign to restore fairness to our democracy and ensure every American has an equal say in our government.” In particular, they’re “fight[ing] against gerrymandering and push for fair maps in the next round of redistricting.” Noble and important work! (

This month they’re going to be reading Ratf**ked: Why Your Vote Doesn’t Count by journalist David Daley. And though I haven’t read it (yet) it sounds like a seriously worthwhile read.

From the book’s intro: “This is the story of the actual redrawing of the American political map and of our democracy itself. It’s the story of how Republicans turned a looming demographic disaster into legislative majorities so unbreakable, so impregnable, that none of the outcomes are in doubt until after the 2020 census… It is legal, it’s breathtaking, and much of it happened in plain sight.”


If you sign up for the book club event you’ll actually hear from the author, because he’s going to join the book club via livestream at 8pm ET!

All On the Line will help you put together a successful event by sharing their event toolkit and sample agenda. Find an event here:

Sign up to host an event here:

P.S. Click here to pick up a copy of Ratf**ked before book club next week by using this link that they provided; use promo code ONEVOTE to get a discount and free shipping! 

Thursday: Do You Like Podcasts? This one’s for you!

Listen, I get it. The Mueller Report is a dense, dense, dense document. (Did I say that it’s dense?) It’s also really long.

But there are some people who are doing a great job of breaking all of that information down and providing it in a format that allows more of us to digest the information on the go: a podcast!

I love podcasts, particularly when school has started and I’m going back and forth to my son’s school. I know other folks that love to listen to them when they’re working out, and others that listen while they’re cleaning (that’s brilliant, no?).

Well, if you are part of the podcast bandwagon, I have great news for you. Lawfare has produced a podcast called The Report that isn’t simply a dry reading of the Mueller Report – but a breakdown of the information that the report uncovered. It’s provided in a podcast format, so it’s infotaining, and very educational.

You should totally check it out, especially if you’ve not been able to read the whole Mueller Report.

Friday: Gun Sense & helping people vote!

First, a bit of a reprise of our gun reform action calling our Senators. By way of reminder, the House has already passed background check legislation – and the Senate can take that up right away when they return from recess. Let’s keep the pressure on!

It’s no secret that Senator Mitch McConnell has been sitting on two pieces of gun legislation that’s supported by a huge majority of Americans and would save hundreds (thousands?) of lives per year. (You can read about the bills HERE.)

Why is he still sitting on those bills? 

Well, there are a few reasons. None of them good. But at the end of the day, he’s the majority leader, and he can sit on bills for as long as he wants. So let’s use public pressure to force the Senate to act, and to force those bills to the floor.

Do you remember the CRUSH of phone calls Senators got during the ACA vote? Let’s try to replicate that level of outrage!

Script: Hi, my name is ___ and I’m calling with a message for the Senator. Like a majority of Americans, I agree with common sense gun reform. There are two bills that passed the House and are sitting on Mitch McConnell’s desk – both addressing background checks for people who want to buy guns. Neither of those bills is controversial to the American public or the people of this state. What is Senator ___ doing to move those bills? [Optional follow up response: Can you tell me why the Senator is not prioritizing the lives of the people in our state?]

And second! Check out Spread the Vote, which is helping people get IDs so they can vote on Election Day.

“Voter ID laws disproportionately affect communities of color, the elderly, and new voters. Spread the Vote helps people to navigate their state’s ID laws and assists with everything from application fees to driving you to the DMV to get your ID. You can join a local chapter (or start one!), and donate at their website.”

Let’s get started NOW to make sure folks have the IDs they need to vote in 2020. We all need to pitch in to boost turnout!


P.S.: Why don’t you make someone’s day and send this pep talk to a friend or two? I bet they need it.

If you’d like to sign up to get this pep talk and action list in your in-box each week, you can do that here. Welcome, friend!

P.P.S.: If you want to help support this work you can do so via Patreon at or via paypal at
My deepest gratitude in advance.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. I read and respond to every e-mail. (Really! I really do!) We’re in this together. Don’t you forget it.

One thought on “The simple power of raising your hand

  1. What a great post! Especially love: “But the simple act of raising our hands and accepting responsibility for finding the answers spurred on a movement the likes of which this country has never seen.”


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