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Not your family

November 30, 2010

Before the Thanksgiving holiday, I decided to attend a protest against the treatment of Imokalee farmworkers, who pick produce for Stop and Shop.   I had helped teach about the treatment of these farmworkers this past summer in the CEC class, so I decided to go for a bit of it.   When I got there, there were great painted signs, drums and tambourines, and 25 or so people, which was great.  Only strange thing was that most of the folks there were college students.  To be fair, it was organized by a college student friend of mine from Brown.  But as I stood there with my friend and fellow-non-college-student Amelia, we definitely felt a little distant.

Later, as we were collecting things for another EJLRI project, she mused on why people take action.  A lot of people get active and stay involved in their community because the group becomes something like a family.  “And it’s strange,” she said, “to take action with someone else’s family.”  I think that can be true for a lot of things, although some types of “families” are easier to connect with than others.  In roller derby, for example, I feel an immediate connection with almost any other roller girl I meet.  Back when I was a swing dancer, visiting a swing family in another town was an absolute joy.  And action families can be similar, I believe.

I think part of my distance from this protesting group was stemmed also from embarrassment… even though I’m glad to have my two part time jobs at Brown, I’m a little embarrassed to still be there… to still see last year’s students around.  Even though I know the economy sucks and it’s not my fault, and I’m grateful to Brown for asking me to work there, I still feel a little ashamed that I haven’t found a full-time job.  And getting passed over for the EJ League job, even though I understand the reasons why, really did damage my feeling of wholeness, connectedness, and enthusiasm for my family… the EJ League.  I really wish it wasn’t so… and I wish I could just get over it… but so far I haven’t.

Any ideas out there for how to make internal amends with my activism family?

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