Looking Backwards

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards. ~Soren Kierkegaard

You can’t really move forward until you look back. ~Cornel West


I like looking backwards sometimes.

Because when you’re looking at your feet, or at the road ahead, you lose sight of how much ground you’ve covered.

When you intentionally look back, you see the twists and turns you’ve taken. You see where you stumbled. You can remember how you got up.

You remember that bench where you sat for a spell, and you remember the stretch of road where you wished you had a bench to sit on.

In other words, you can appreciate how far you’ve come … while reflecting on the lessons you learned along the way.

So join me for a moment, and think back to two years ago.

August 2018.

John McCain was still very much alive. Brett Kavanaugh had been nominated for the Supreme Court – but we did not yet know about Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (we talked about our collective anger at her treatment HERE).

The House was still ruled by a GOP majority, so every horrifying fever dream the GOP cooked up could be rushed through Congress to be signed by the itty-bitty-tiny hands in the White House. 

We were not yet numb to the reality of children in cages on our border. 

We did not yet know if we would be able to regain the House in 2018 – which was our last best hope of stemming the tide of insanity. Some pundits said we would. Others said we wouldn’t. Most thought it would be close. 

Think of where we’ve been since.

The elation in November, 2018. The relief once a new Congress was seated. The excitement at seeing Nancy Pelosi standing up to the Trump administration (and the satisfaction of her pity clap). The fantastic performances of the freshmen (or, shall we say, freshwomen) in Congress, who have held many feet to the fire.

And, of course, the long slog since March 2020.

Over the last few years, our skills have been finely tuned. Our interests and areas of expertise, honed. Our passion tested, our resolve firmed.

Looking back, we can see all of the places where we stumbled and caught each other, and places where some of us raced ahead. We can see the challenges overcome and the battles won. Some battles lost.

Now, looking before us – to a future that’s less clear than we’d like it to be – we can use the knowledge we have earned to guide our next months. We are lucky to travel the difficult path before us with the benefit of a hundred lessons already learned.

A hundred more await us, most certainly.

Traveling together, we’ll learn them arm-in-arm. And I can’t think of a better community of people to learn those lessons with, than you.

Thank you for staying true to yourself, for fighting anxiety and exhaustion over the past 3-and-something years to remain part of this great movement of people.

Let’s keep moving forward, together.

Let’s get to work.

Actions for the Week of August 4, 2020

Tuesday: The 19th* News

The first women-led and produced non-profit, nonpartisan news platform launched their website this week. The 19th is “reporting at the intersection of gender, politics and policy.” Their latest stories range from “America’s first female recession” to “How COVID could upend women’s health for years.

The female-majority newsroom is challenging traditional news by publishing stories focused on those who have been underserved by and underrepresented in American journalism, particularly women and people of color. By expanding representation, The 19th hopes to empower and fuel the civic participation of women. The asterisk in their logo represents the imperfect promise of the 19th Amendment and the unfinished work of our democracy. 

This week I’m challenging you to support the terrific team at The 19th by adding their website as a stop in your news-collecting ritual. After reading your favorite daily briefing or watching the evening news, head over to their website for unique content you don’t want to miss.

Their goal is to offer free-to-consume and a free-to-publish content, so subscribing isn’t necessary. However, you can sign up to be an ally of the newsroom and receive members-only newsletters. 100% of your donation will directly support their journalism. If you’re still not convinced you’ll love this news source, check out this feature piece The Cut recently did on their work. 

Wednesday: Call Your Senators about Child Care Relief

The House passed two child care bills last week to help families during the pandemic. Both bills are essential to saving our families and our economy. The first is the Child Care is Essential Act. This bill would provide grant money, sourced from a Child Care Stabilization fund, to child care providers to help them reopen their facilities safely. The money would be directed at supporting operating costs and funding new public health procedures.

The second bill passed by the House is the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act. This bill outlines measures that aim to make child care more affordable in the long run. One key element of this bill is an expansion of the child and dependent care tax credit. Additionally, the bill would create a new tax credit for mortgage, rent, and utility services incurred by child care facilities. Senator Pat Murray is leading the companion bill efforts in the Senate and needs the support of other Senators. Call both of your Senators today and demand that they pass companion bills of H.R. 7027 and H.R. 7327. Supporting child care centers through this pandemic is essential to a strong recovery. 

Thursday: Census Data Gathering

Census Bureau officials have recently signaled intentions to conclude the 2020 counting process prematurely. According to the Washington Post, the Census Bureau plans to wrap up the process of counting inhabitants of the U.S. a month early.

Originally, the pandemic led the Census Bureau to a decision to expand their counting efforts (knocking doors, calling individuals, sending mail reminders) until October 31st because of the disruption in traditional field operations.

However, according to an official at the Census Bureau, news broken by NPR, the final date is now September 30th. So far, only 63% of households have responded to the 2020 census. Stopping counting efforts early will severely misrepresent immigrants and communities of color.

The House has already voted for increased census funding and an extended deadline as a measure in the HEROES Act. The Senate has only proposed a monetary increase with no timeframe extension. Today, call your Senators and ask them to pass a bill to extend the deadline for the final census count. It is essential to our democracy that the count is accurate. 

Friday: Podcast Recommendation! 

The New York Times podcast company, Serial, just released a new podcast series called “Nice White Parents.” This five-part series investigates a story about a school district in Brooklyn with a complicated history of race and neighborhood segregation. The host, Chana Joffe-Walt, offers insight on how white parents are an unusual, powerful force shaping the history and present-day realities of public education.

 The first two episodes are now live on the usual podcast-streaming platforms. If you have children in school, or if you don’t, this podcast will push you to think about how racism manifests in our education system – on every level. You can also check out books from this New York Times reading list to compliment what you learn from the series. I’ll be listening and learning this weekend while I stay at home!

WHEW! GO, TEAM! SUPER PROUD OF YOU!

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
https://www.patreon.com/smalldeedsdone or via paypal at https://www.paypal.me/smalldeeds
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.

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