• Fenna Milbauer

The Responsibility We All Have

Updated: Sep 10, 2020

“It's a responsibility I have, that we all have.”

As protests continue all over the country, it is becoming clear that something is beginning to shift in American culture. In previous articles, I have explored the involvement of women and mothers in activism and protests. As the atmosphere shifts and the pressure begins to mount around the Black Lives Matter movement, it is becoming clear that this is not a time to sit back and observe. I had the pleasure of speaking with Beth K., who is a working mom of two living in Portland, Oregon. She has participated in several BLM protests in the city, and says she “is doing as much as [she] can, but it doesn't feel like enough”.

What is so striking about women like Beth is their dedication to the cause. Like many of us who exude privilege either by virtue of our skin color, wealth, or zip code, Beth notes that it is easy to ignore what is happening. “It is easy to remove yourself, driving around you can forget what is happening which is really a sign of the privilege which I have.”

Beth, like many others, has been going to protests for years, but these protests are different. “There was no warning before federal agents used tear gas, combined with the protesters who had been taken off the street, there was more fear.” Beth said, “I used to clap for police at protests, as they would protect us from the counter protests, but in this case you could tell they were not there for the safety of the protesters.”

The ongoing social change which has resulted from the BLM protests will undoubtedly have incredible political implications and will alter who runs for office. It has also increased awareness surrounding the importance of local elections. Beth, like many of us, does tend to vote in local elections, but has not invested much time into researching who the candidates are. Recent events have made Beth want to change this habit. She says that “it makes me want to be more involved to make sure that our candidates really represent the people of Portland”.

Photo: Beth with her family.

Mothers symbolize a shift in a movement, solidifying its importance to history. The concern and feeling of protection which comes from motherhood often drives moms to protest. “After becoming a mom I gained a renewed sense of wanting to change society for the better, to be able to look back and think I’ve done everything I could to improve society for my children and all children in America.”

There are many candidates who agree with Beth’s sentiment, who are dedicated to improving America for our children. Women like Cori Bush, a dedicated BLM activist from Ferguson, Missouri. She strives to make a difference in her community. “I am running because I am the people I serve.”

Photo: Cori Bush Campaign

And, women who advocate for women and children harmed by domestic violence like Kathy Ellis.

Or, women like Lucy McBath who advocate for women against gun violence.

The protests and violence in Portland could symbolize a shift in the American political system, one which will elevate the issues at the core of American society. It is important that we begin to elect leaders who reflect this change. Leaders who represent the needs of all Americans and embrace a positive but resolute outlook on the policies that America needs.

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