The first real notice I took of people fighting for social justice occurred right around the time that the first Lilith Fair occurred. I started listening to the Indigo Girls as a camp counselor at Camp Mosey Wood in the summer of 1995, and I never looked back. The words, the music…like Joe Fox in You’ve Got Mail, who can reply to anything with a quote from The Godfather, I pride myself on being able to pull an Indigo Girls quote out of thin air to encourage in any situation. They were on the main stage at Lilith, and while I did not get to see them perform, I started to pay some attention to what was happening behind the scenes. I realized that people were doing work to fight against injustice and raising money for causes I had never even considered. I was a white female in my early twenties attending a conservative Christian school, complete with a chapel requirement and strict “intervisitation” policies. I was about as far from an activist as I would ever be. It just never occurred to me to challenge the status quo.
That summer started a longtime love affair with the words and music of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers. I had never been much of a music lover, but these days I tend to be pretty all-Indigo-Girls-all-the-time with my music choices. I have seen them numerous times in concert and hope to see them many more times. And I finally get what they were talking about when they were singing on the Honor the Earth Tour and raising money for PETA and leading some of the protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline. If I don’t do something, who is going to? If we all, as a collective group, refuse to show up, how can things change?
I certainly benefit from white privilege every day. My parents provided to me a comfortable (more than comfortable) upbringing. I was able to go to college, and when my first career didn’t work out, I was able to go back to college and then to grad school and am now in a post-Masters program. I am not food insecure. I have my own car and a full-time job. I can go most places without worrying about someone acting out against me in hate. And back in my college days, I didn’t really think beyond that. I belonged to service clubs, and I went on a missions trip in my senior year of college, and I thought I was doing a lot of good in the world. My world was just really small.
I have gone from being Roman Catholic to a nondenominational Christian to identifying myself as spiritual but not particularly religious. I have felt a shift in myself, especially since this most recent Presidential campaign, and I am no longer okay with riding the wave of my white privilege and ignoring all that is wrong in this world. I am a baby feminist, but I am a feminist. I believe love is love, and if I find love again, I will hold on to it for all it is worth. I believe I am here to make a difference in the world and speak out and be seen. I am here to fight for you and for me and for anyone else out there that needs my voice. I will show up.