I have this pinned to the top of my twitter feed:
Numbers 1-4 are not the whole of who I am, but I feel it's a pretty good chunk of how I exist as a person. Number 5, well, that one causes me a good deal of anxiety.
I was 12 credits short of a BS in Political Science when I graduated from college. In fact, it took me three colleges (and a break for one baby) over an eleven-year period to get my degree. Yes, yes. I'm a late bloomer. When I went back to school for the last time, I was actually looking into a Social Work/Political Science double major. It was 2004, and I didn't like the direction the country was going in then (either) and I wanted to do something about it. And it was also important for me to finish what I started and get a Bachelor's Degree.
At the time I went back to school, I was a bit disillusioned with the possibility of a life in theatre. My daughter was born with a partial trisomy of the 16th chromosome two years before, I was still in a relationship with her dad, and had a nice home in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The interest in Political Science, aside from my bleeding heart, was born out of watching the Twin Towers fall and the ensuing war(s). I think I was searching for how to make sense out of all of it. And with Social Work, I just wanted to help people. Well, with one production of R&J in November '04 I was right back home in the theatre, so I dropped the idea of getting into social work. And really, in a way, theatre is a kind of social work in its own right.
By the time I hit the fall of 2006, I had a decision to make. Graduate that spring with a BA in Theater, minor in PoliSci, or stick around to the fall of 2007 and get the double major. I chose the former, but the point is since that time I've maintained my interest in politics, if only from an observational standpoint. So let's fast-forward to last November, shall we? I've been living in Chicago for almost a decade, my daughter has a stepfather who happens to originally be from Poland, and I'm working hard in the Chicago Theatre scene.
Boy that campaign was something else, wasn't it?
And can I tell you I think I may have taken 2008-16 for granted? Life hasn't been all that easy here in Chicago for various reasons, but I sure as hell didn't feel as though Numbers 1-4 were being attacked from every angle. I mean, this country hasn't really known been known for its theatrical values and paying artists very well, but I could still do shows on a shoestring budget. And I could still feel relatively safe as a woman, and that society wouldn't totally let my daughter down, and my husband wouldn't be deported.
Now I'm not so sure about any of that.
I did not vote for the current President of the United States. For me, it didn't take a genius to see he wasn't Presidential material, in my opinion. And he certainly wasn't going to protect any of my interests, or the vast majority of people's interests for that matter (I thought that was also obvious). I truly believe there is only one person's interests he cares about. Also, while the policies the Republican-controlled Congress and this President are pursuing are pretty much what I'd expect, I think the extreme to which they are pursuing them is completely unsettling. Take the NEA for instance. The Republican Party has been trying to cut the NEA for years; all they really needed was a majority and a President willing to sign a budget to slash it. But now the NEA and the NEH. Jesus.
And the threat to gut Medicaid by $880 BILLION is breathtaking. Honestly, it actually takes my breath away to think how the Republican Party and this President are willing to let my special needs girl STARVE because she will never honestly be able to work a job that will afford her a living wage. Let alone the fact that she'll never be able to live on her own. And yes, while the domestic policy of keeping "certain people" from the Middle East out and building a wall to "keep the Mexicans out" makes some people feel safe, I personally can only help but wonder how long is it before they come for anyone with accent. Polish or otherwise. And by the way, lest we forget, how this Congress and this President are fueling an anti-woman, anti-People of Color, anti-LGBTQ, anti-Press climate in the United States right now. I'll also throw class warfare (which includes anti-Public Education) right in there as well.
Do I even need to point out the only people who seem not to be at risk here?
Being a theatre artist, to me, is built around an interest of what it means to be human. After all, we artists are human. We'll most of us anyway. And right now, in this country, there is an actual effort to attack the very lives of a whole lot of humans. I believe there's a responsibility for the artists of this country, and the world, to stand up for those who are hurting and/or unable to fight for themselves. And I'm trying to figure out what I need to do about that. I encourage you to do the same.