As a card carrying liberal feminist in Nebraska (a precarious position to begin with) I, like many others, was quite disappointed by the 2014 midterm election results. Of course, my fellow local liberals took to social media so we could collectively “cry in our beers” as it were. In mere moments the amount of “I can’t wait to move” and “how fast can we relocate to California?” posts were deafening. This is an impulse I cannot condemn, for I have felt it and spoken it at different periods in my life as a Nebraskan. I can relate to such a degree that I was rather surprised to find myself having a different reaction all together. I, quietly, thought to myself “well, someone has to stay.”
Let’s face it; I hypocritically martyr myself by labeling my position in my community precarious. At the end of the day I am an over-educated, straight, married, mother-of-two, white, privileged woman. While not every stretch of road I’ve walked has been easy, it would impetuous to pretend that I’ve faced the true hardship so many face daily. I’ve always had a soft place to land with my family and I’ve never been followed around a gas station and accused of stealing. I drive a mini-van for fucks sake; I could rob a bank and count the money in the car. It probably doesn’t matter what state I live in.
Embarrassingly, I admit I’ve rested on this on the past. I’ve ignored social injustice because it was too uncomfortable, because I didn’t want to engage in controversy, because I was worried I would accidentally offend the people I was trying help. But something in the 2014 midterm election results shook me.
I can stay in Nebraska and perhaps I can be of use if I’m smart enough to shut up, listen, and stop making this about my feelings – because in the reality of how these policies will impact those they are intended to, my feelings aren’t relevant.
My desire to leave this state, to be surrounded by like-minded individuals isn’t wrong, but this isn’t about me.
Someone has to stay and tell the 14 year old he’s not a freak for questioning his sexuality. He needs a voice in this community that tells him he is appreciated and never alone. He needs someone to stay and listen to his story. Here.
Someone has to stay and tell a young, scared mother who is lashing-out that she isn’t a “leach” or “lazy” for needing Medicaid for herself and her baby. Someone needs to listen to her story and fight for her and for her baby’s care. Here.
Someone has to stay and tell the community that acknowledging their privilege isn’t proclaiming they haven’t worked hard to achieve their successes, but it admitting that others had opportunity forsaken from them and that it’s an injustice we all participated in. Here.
Someone has to stay and listen to friends worry and cry over the fate of their children if anything should ever happens to their partner. Someone has to tell the community that’s happening. Here.
Someone has to stay, here.
Someone has to listen, here.
Someone needs to be here, so these voices can be heard.