Sitting Shiva, Jehovah’s Witnesses wearing safety pins

Sitting Shiva
Since the wee hours of last Wednesday morning I have wondered how long I would leave the Clinton/Kaine sign up in my yard. Over the weekend, my cousin in California, parked in their driveway within sight of their Clinton/Kaine sign, had a car window smashed. Someone with a Trump/Pence sticker on their car leaned on their horn and sped past me last Thursday afternoon outside Atlanta. Violence and rudeness (never mind safety on an interstate road with cars driving at 65+ mph) don’t win any points for Trump/Pence supporters.

With the announcement that Steve Bannon, a candidate for the Mr Anti-Semitic Lifetime Achievement Award, to serve as Trump’s chief strategist, I decided to Sit Shiva with my yard sign, as many Jewish people do following a death (although, to be clear, last week’s election outcome was not a death sentence for diversity and greater equality, but instead a wake-up call). The sign will be put away tomorrow, a full seven days after the election, even though Clinton/Kaine did receive more votes.

Jehovah Witnesses wearing safety pins
This morning I heard someone knock on our front door, and since we are “come to the back door” folks, I knew a stranger must be knocking. I stepped outside to keep the dogs from making a racket, and was greeted by two black women, one maybe in her mid-late 50s and another in her 60s. They were holding Bibles and Jehovah Witness’s pamphlets, dressed in skirts and shoes intended for walking most of the day.

Before I could say anything I realized this was a chance to practice some patience and tolerance, which is in short supply in our country. We all said hello, and then I asked them as politely as possible, to not come back, and that I have asked others who came before them to strike us from their list. They said they were new here, our house wasn’t marked to be skipped, they repeated the house number, said they would take care of it.

The older of the two women had a safety pin on her scarf, and I said, “I see your safety pin, and I forgot to put mine on. We’re Quakers here, and you are always welcome if you need to find a bathroom or want a glass of water, but we’re fine.”

The younger woman said, “We all want peace.” They made note again of the house number, we all smiled, and I came back inside feeling a little better about where we can be if we are willing to try. It isn’t about wearing a safety pin; it is about being ready to do my part.

Every Campus a Refuge

The Friday Photo
November 20, 2015

photo by Guilford College studetn Kat Miller
photo by Guilford College student Kat Miller

The Guilford College Community practices its cornerstone principles. #everycampusarefuge

Bid Day

The Friday Photo
August 15, 2014

Bid Day, Georgia College
Yesterday I had to meet someone at Georgia College in nearby Milledgeville. I snagged a great parking spot facing the campus quad shaded by tall trees and surrounded by beautiful buildings.

I happened upon sorority Bid Day announcements, a ritual that is taking place across college campuses now.

I’d never seen a Bid Day because my alma mater, Guilford College, doesn’t have Greek organizations.

A throng of young women stood together while shrieks and cheers erupted among them. They were standing in groups with matching t-shirts and tank tops while the newest members pulled their new shirt over what they had worn to the quad. Women around them hugged and smiled.

They were a homogenized group-slender attractive young white women, most with long hair, standing on suntanned legs below short shorts. They looked excited in their uniform colored groups.

I wondered about the young women who didn’t get their first choice,  who couldn’t participate because of the cost (it is easily thousands with dues, clothes for social events, etc), who thought they were too heavy, not pretty enough, too dark skinned, had no legacy to claim as leverage, or who didn’t make it to Bid Day at all.

A social worker told me she once worked shifts for the suicide/crisis phone line in Athens during Bid Week at UGA.  The phones rang off the hook with young women who were falling apart due to the outcomes of rushing a sorority. What a hard way to begin a college career.

I hope leaving the quad with a much coveted t–shirt won’t keep those young woman from really stretching themselves well beyond the confines of their sorority house and Greek life.