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Dear Care and Feeding,
I’m a mom to a headstrong teenage girl, and the past few weeks have been challenging to say the least. She is a self-described social justice warrior and a leader in student government and in our small community.
When Roe v. Wade was overturned, everything changed for her. We live in Michigan, and she will not stop talking about moving to Canada or another country. She even typed a ten-page proposal on why we need to leave, which was quite impressive. Our family has the money to move, and my husband said he will strongly consider it depending on the outcome of the midterm elections. Personally, it doesn’t sit well with me to leave when things get rough, but things are really rough in America at the moment, so I almost don’t blame her for feeling this way. Any suggestions on how I should talk to her?
—Miffed in Michigan
Your daughter’s pain is understandable and expected for anyone who holds any empathy for people of marginalized groups in this country. Between the rise of overt racism, women’s rights being under attack, police brutality, and a ridiculous amount of gun violence, just to name a few things—I don’t think it’s hyperbolic to say that America is a complete dumpster fire right now.
As incredibly flawed as America is, I still love this place—and as is the case with anything or anyone we love, we have to keep it real and call it as it is. That said, I feel similarly to you in terms of not running away when the going gets tough.
I don’t think it’s any secret that being a Black person in America is challenging to say the least, and there are times when I feel like crawling into my bed and not moving for hours on end. However, then I think about my ancestors who lived on this land and were beaten, raped, tortured, and killed by their savage captors for centuries. It would be a disgrace to them to sit back and do nothing. That’s why I work as an anti-racism facilitator and speaker for corporations and schools because I know I have the superpower to change the hearts and minds of people. Granted, I’m only one person, but I believe that if enough people stick around and do something meaningful, then we can move mountains.
What could that look like for your daughter? You mentioned she’s in student government, but maybe you can suggest she branch out and volunteer for the political campaigns of candidates who share her ideals. She can mobilize people using social media, rally her community, or speak to her school’s administration to raise awareness about the issues she’s passionate about. The possibilities are endless, but I don’t think throwing in the towel and moving to another country is the best move.
Your daughter’s proposal is likely coming from a place of fear, which is a normal response to the current state of things (for adults and kids alike). It might be helpful to talk to her about times when this country has managed to enact positive changes because people stuck around and fought for them.
The people proposing laws that your daughter is against are hoping people like her pack up her stuff and move away without a fight. I would advise her not to give them what they want.
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