“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Between the time I write this and when The Phoenix goes to press, millions of Americans over 18 will have cast their votes in favor of one candidate or another, springing from amalgamations of internal convictions, biases, perhaps even confusion. It’s been a political year festooned with muckraking and dodgy ethics.
But it’s what we have done in the midst of this political environment that most intrigues me, on the day that we are collectively choosing our 45th president. This year has seen Hwy. 94 closed as protesters blocked traffic, chanting that police should stop killing black people. They stood in a line, walking toward the police, in a tense standoff veiled by darkness.
On July 6, two days after a national celebration honoring the adoption of the Declaration of Independence — a statement claiming our inalienable rights to equality — Philando Castile, a 32-year-old black cafeteria supervisor was killed in Falcon Heights after being pulled over by police. On July 5, Alton Sterling was shot at close range while held down on the ground by two Baton Rouge, LA officers.
I’m one of the lucky Americans. I can walk to the polls and vote today. I move freely in society, have a job, love my healthy family, walk my dog, and Salute the Sun in yoga class.
I’ve never been more aware of my white privilege, a term that failed to grace my consciousness when growing up in the midst of it. Years of living and the life experiences that go along for the ride have left me with eyes wide open, however, and I’m thankful for that. Without that awareness, I continue to be part of the problem, and not part of the solution.
What do you do with awareness? Who do you vote for? Where do you put your energy? Some of you are trying to cobble together another 24 hours of sobriety. Others, like the writer below, will be trying to cobble together her life after incarceration.
When she steps from behind the bars and into the line at the grocery store, is she an “other?” What do her inalienable rights look like? Do we tell her she doesn’t belong, or do we embrace her and her story, shed our privileged status for just a bit, and offer up some kindness and compassion. There but for the grace of God go I. I need to remind myself of that every day.
Dear Editor –
My name is Tamara V and I am a survivor of sex-trafficking and abuse right here in Minnesota. I would be interested in telling my story. I have and will always stand tall for those voices that go unheard daily.
I am currently at the Women’s Work House in Plymouth until December. I am currently in recovery and working on my GED so I can walk out these doors with some extra hope for a better future.
I, like so many, have a past that makes some people turn their heads and not want to give us a chance – which makes life so much harder when you’re trying to change and live a new way.
I am someone’s daughter and a mother.
I am faced with many challenges upon my release. I don’t have a place to call home. I don’t even have a winter coat, hat, or gloves for the winter weather. I don’t have a bus card or a dollar to get on the bus. Which for most would lead them right back to a pimp, but I am reaching out for help. I am asking for a chance.
If there is anyway for you to help or for me to get my story out there please let me know.
I want my voice to be heard so I can help just that one person not make the choices I did and to know they are worth more.
Thanks, Tamara V.
Julia Jergensen Edelman