author – activist – faculty – mom
When I came up in the 70s, there were no leash laws, and stepping in dog shit happened all the time. After a day playing outside, you had to check your shoes, because you never wanted to track shit into the house.
Nowadays, neighbors are mandated by law to pick up after their dogs using a plastic bag (or better yet, a compostable one). But some folks–especially at night–walk their dogs and don’t clean up after them when they shit on the curb strip. These are folks who don’t care about anybody but themselves, or folks who just aren’t paying attention. So from time to time–particularly as a working mom who’s always rushing in and out of my car–I step in shit.
My Adidas shell toe sneakers are the most recent casualty. I quickly smelled the problem, and took the shoe off. I left it on the porch on some old newspapers to dry out. But there are deep, wavy-patterned grooves in the soles of those sneakers, and I don’t have time to do the tedious job of cleaning them. Yuck. So I’ve just worn other shoes the last few months.
But I love those shoes. I came of age in the late 1980s, and shell toes are the footwear of old school hip hop to me. I wore this particular pair of sneakers for my solo theater show, Thieves in the Temple: the Reclaiming of Hip Hop. They’re worn and grubby, but they always come through for me. In particular, I love to wear them when I walk in the rain, because the shell toes protect from the water better than other sneakers.
And so it comes to the Women’s March tomorrow. It’s raining here in the Bay Area, and I realized, I need to march in these particular shoes. I was mad that they were still dirty, til I realized it’s actually fitting. This country’s got some shit we need to march off.
Just like those lousy, dog-walking neighbors, there were some folks in the most recent election who who didn’t care about other people and some others who weren’t paying attention. And now we’re all in a shitty mess.
Christians talk about shaking the dust off. But tomorrow, I’m gonna go out with my family and march the shit off.
I’ve been ambivalent about going to the march, because my first grade daughter doesn’t yet know about all the things in play: Mommy, what’s abortion? Mommy what’s sexual violence? I’m not not the type of mom to evade these questions. I usually try to find a developmentally appropriate answer that strikes a balance between being real and TMI. Part of having a childhood is innocence, where you’re protected from knowing the extent of misogyny. Unfortunately, many children don’t have a choice in these matters. For example, with too many girls (and boys, as well), sexual violence is a brutal reality. And that’s one of the injustices we are marching to change. I have no idea what slogans will be on the signs and banners at the march, but I expect to see mention of many specifics of misogyny and injustice. Fortunately, however, my kid is learning to read in Spanish, so she won’t be overwhelmed by new info.
At the same time, some of my mentors have assured me that it’s better for children to see people standing together against injustice, even if it means the children witness some of adults’ despair and rantings about it. In addition, I can show her my own confidence that we will fight and win. And when I don’t actually feel that confidence, I can work on my early childhood experiences of being defeated. Then, instead of projecting old despair onto the current situation, so I can hold an authentically hopeful perspective. And it’s true: when the people fight, we win.
So I’ll be marching tomorrow in my favorite, rain-proof shell toes. And as an intention for this presidency, I’ll be marching the shit right off my shoes.