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Written by Jenni Person, BT Contributor   
January 2017

A packing list for multigenerational activism

RPix_FamilyMatters_1-17emember the road trip game that requires naming something you’re packing for a trip with every letter of the alphabet? Tens of thousands of miles on I-95 back and forth between New York and Florida were spent reciting, “I’m going on a vacation and in my suitcase I’m packing an apple, a baseball bat, a cat….” Round robin, adding everything the last person said in alphabetical order.

Well, I’m going on a really special road trip this month, and I need to pack.

I’m heading up to our nation’s capital in a few weeks to participate in the Women’s March on Washington. And I’m bringing my daughter. I’m bringing my daughter because this is an urgent moment in our history at which we need to take a stand against the patriarchy. I’m bringing my daughter because she comes from a long line of women activists and she’ll learn a lot from walking in their path. I’m bringing my daughter because I love her company.

As we prepare to hit the road, I thought it would be appropriate to borrow from that road trip game and fill my suitcase with the ideas and meaning I want to share with my daughter. So I’m going on a trip and in my suitcase I’m packing:

Activism: So that my kid will learn what it means and what it can accomplish experientially.

Boots: For my daughter’s bat mitzvah last spring, my niece (who’s much older, at 24) gifted my daughter a refurbished pair of Doc Martens that I’d handed down to her many years prior. Along with the boots was an amazing eight-page letter about where the boots, “Our Docs” she called them, had taken her as an activist, world traveler, and reveler. She also took a stab at imagining where they’d taken me previously. And she pointed my daughter to the multigenerational feminist/activist blood running through our family’s veins that leads us to take a stand in “Our Docs.” And they’ll be on the trip because my daughter said she wanted to wear them for this occasion.

Car: Because what would a road trip be without a car?

Dads: Because it’s changing, slowly, but dads need to be our biggest allies in the messaging to kids about the abolishment of institutionalized misogyny and patriarchy in our culture.

Effort: Because making the effort and conscious choice to stand up for what’s right is the backbone of activism.

F**K: Because expletives are important in this situation.

Golda: Because she’s my daughter.

Hara: My sister will be out of the country, so I’m marching for her too, especially because we did this together for the March for Women’s Lives in 1989.

Idealism.

Jokes: I’m very lucky to have a kid with an amazing sense of humor.

Keep It Simple, Stupid: This was one of my dad’s favorite mottos. The older I get, the more I realize how essential it is. My daughter was six months old when he died, so I’m glad for every opportunity to keep his spirit around. He would have loved what we’re doing. The morning my sister and I left for the march in 1989, he said, “Give ’em hell!” as we walked out the door.

Lots of love.

March to your own beat…and march for what’s fair.

No: The right for women to say no to what they don’t want, when they don’t want it.

Opinion: For having one and being fearless in allowing it to change.

Peace: Corny, but real. I want peace to radiate around and from within my kids always.

Queer: In honor of indeterminate identity and the process of skewing the binary, and of course, also in support and celebration of LGBTQ+ community.

Righteousness.

Systemic egalitarianism: As a goal.

Tzedek, tzedek tirdof: This transliteration of Hebrew for “Justice, justice shall you pursue” is from the Torah. It’s a value that is very central to our family and the reason we’re making this trip. When I was pregnant with my daughter and living in L.A., I worked in a building with a mural dedicated to this quote, which graced it in English and Hebrew. A couple of years ago, while visiting L.A., I took her there to show her where she was gestated and the sites of her first two months of life. The mural had been vandalized and there was a reporter there investigating the scene. He interviewed and photographed my daughter for the story and set my head spinning.

Unison: The power of voices rising as one.

Vision: I hope both of my kids are always afforded unfettered opportunities to implement their visions. And I sure as hell hope they’re recognized for their visions and not robbed of them, as seems to be so rampant in my world.

Why: Great questions.

X: OXOXO

Yes: Optimism.

Zoom: A thousand miles of open highway in either direction. Aaaaah.

 

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