Young activists: be kind to your older women volunteers
One of the most depressing parts of volunteering for social justice causes is noticing how the labor of older women is systematically taken for granted, unappreciated, and unrewarded. If you’ve been doing this for a while, you’ll notice it too, I promise. Whether the cause is religious-progressive, economic, political or otherwise, older women will be doing most of the foot soldier work of a nonprofit organization. In the urban South where I live, these are predominantly older African-American women. They’re the ones that are out knocking on doors in all weather, staffing phone lines, passing out food, maintaining databases, fundraising, teaching.
Young people will have more immediate spare time and a ton of energy, and they often pull heroic week-long or month-long stints. And then they move on. But the older women are the ones who stick around and provide continuity.
Since we have a big election coming up next year in the US and I hope everyone will get involved in social justice political volunteering like voter registration, here are some tips on how not to be an unthinking jerk when it comes to appreciating your older women volunteers:
Commit yourself to sustainable, inclusive, community-based, intergenerational social justice. If you’re a college student from out of town, make sure you learn about local issues.
Stop every once in a while and think if you’re subconsciously favoring and promoting the rarer younger men volunteers. Acknowledge their work, but don’t put them on a pedestal.
How are you valuing your volunteers’ labor? No, they don’t expect to be paid, but have an informal way that shows you care. Give out certificates. List their names on your organization’s websites. Have potluck volunteer appreciation parties.
Schedule in breaks for people to rest. Make sure you have snacks and water for long efforts. Making your efforts friendly for disabled people makes them friendly for most elderly people too.
Don’t freak out if someone shows up with a kid. Sometimes childcare plans fall through. Ideally, you’ll have a small kid-friendly space, just somewhere where the kids can be supervised and safe. Keep a box with an activity book and maybe an old tablet that runs some educational games.
Cut the soccer mom jokes. Those jokes are boring anyway, and the soccer mom might be a lesbian Latina socialist who’s proud of cheering on her kids.
Ask volunteers how to make their work more helpful and efficient and listen when they give their opinions. Disregard the seagulls (people who fly in, make a lot of noise, crap all over the place and fly away again) and focus on the people who are your long-term dedicated volunteers. These people often don’t give their opinions because they’re not sure they’re going to be listened to. So ask and listen!
I’ve been thinking a lot about the parent that I have turned out to be over the last 5 years. I don’t think I had any real idea what kind of parent I’d be. And even if I did, actually becoming a parent and how you will adapt to it is nothing you can really predict. There are some things I thought I would be better at. And there are ways in which I have pleasantly surprised myself as well. There are a lot of things I sometimes think I should or wish I did differently, but often I wonder if I am feeling that way because I really believe it or if the thoughts are based on societal pressures and expectations. Anyway, I am what I am and I took a little time to make a list of the kind of parent I am at 5 years in:
(In no particular order)
I play with my kid, but I reach my imagination/entertainment limit a lot sooner than I thought I would.
I play music that I like in the car regardless of maturity level. I’ve never been one to seek out “child friendly” music. As a result my kid really digs AC/DC and I think that’s pretty cool.
I swear sometimes (a lot) and I know my kid repeats it, but I make him promise he won’t do it at school (and that’s a guarantee, right). But I really don’t care much about swearing.
I can’t stick to a bedtime to save my life. My kid often goes to bed between 11 and midnight.
I let my kid pass out on his bedroom floor for naps no matter how late.
I rough house with my kid and tickle him within an inch of his life.
I give in and clean my kid’s room for him 99% of the time.
I let my kid take showers and take care of his own cleaning (occasionally I pop in to make sure he’s actually using soap).
I give my kid deserts after dinner even if its like 9 o’clock at night. We eat sugar at pretty much any hour around here.
New toys are purchased pretty much every weekend, though it is almost exclusively something very small.
I try and repeatedly fail at implementing earning/allowance systems.
I let my kid watch PG-13 movies. We always watch them as a family and talk and answer questions the whole way through.
My kid plays on our tablet often. Sometimes it’s educational stuff.
Arranging play dates overwhelms and annoys me so as of yet I don’t do it except for with the couple of families I know I like.
I encourage fruit and vegetable eating, but I probably don’t provide enough of the veggies.
I make very basic dinners including Hamburger Helper once a week (which my kid loves and gobbles up complete with hidden veggies). I pretty much hate preparing meals. Money is the only thing keeping us from ordering in or eating out every day.
I sleep as late as I can on the weekends and our family rarely gets out of the house before noon.
I will give my kid breakfast as soon as he asks for it, but we do not do family breakfasts.
Half the time we eat dinner in front of the television.
I yell at my kid a fair amount.
I give up and storm off to bed leaving my husband and kid to fend for themselves at least once a week.
I need breaks on the weekends when I can get them - a few hours to myself at least.
I promote and encourage acceptance, equality, and not judging a book by it’s cover.
I speak openly and frankly to my kid.
I speak (and try to act) against gender stereotyping whenever possible.
I try very hard to listen to my kid when he talks to me. Even when it is long rambling stories that don’t make sense or have heard a thousand times.
I love my kid with all my heart and would do absolutely anything to keep him healthy and safe.
more postwar berkeley aliens: the human perspective
I should have sat in the front of the room, but I’m too nervous. I went to the back instead, and now I feel very conspicuous, because this is a large amphitheater-style classroom, and it’s already started, and it’s only half full. And for some reason, I am sitting right next to the alien.
I’m not looking at him. My eye level is halfway up his naked humanoid torso part, I don’t want to get caught staring at Andalite pecs. I’m still thinking about how Andalites aren’t as blue in person as they are in Hasbro toy form, and hoping that Wikipedia is right and that Andalites aren’t technically telepathic.
Today is horrible. I want to go home.
The teacher says, “All right, let’s—“ and then something slangy and incomprehensible that makes no sense.
Students start gathering their stuff up and getting out of their chairs. Is class cancelled?
“Wait, what’s everyone—uh,” I shake my head, trying so hard to replace the words with English. I’m too tired, I spent too much time on the phone with my parents this morning, I’m remembering Mandarin instead, and I can’t remember the English at all.
<We have been asked to move closer to the front,> says the alien.
I twist around to look at him so fast my spine cracks. It’s the first thing I’ve easily understood all day that hasn’t been overheard from another Chinese student, some of them with really strong American accents. “You speak Chinese?”
<I understand all spoken and written language that I have been sufficiently exposed to,> the alien corrects. <I made a study of the most common languages at the university once I was enrolled, and my translation implant ensures I am understood. >
Anonymous requested: Shamy are now pensioners and as they are sitting down drinking tea, they think about their life then and know.
Sheldon peered up
from his book and glared briefly at the clouds that slid between him
and the sun. He didn’t think it was going to rain, but it still
might be time to head inside. Then again, the clouds and the breeze
were leading to a peacefully cool afternoon on the balcony of his
apartment. Despite his general opposition to being outside, Sheldon
flipped the page on the book he was reading and decided to stay out.
At Archbishop Stepinac High School, the backpacks got a whole lot lighter this year because nearly every book — from freshman biology to senior calculus — is now digital, accessible on students’ laptops and tablets.
N: Papa N wouldbe that one father to secretly turn playtime into learning time. He’d havealmost all the educational toys on the market and would trick his kid intothinking their building blocks when in actuality they’re learning how to spell
‘cat’. He’s only thinking ahead to their academic future of course. “Yes, the green C goes next to the green A
and then that goes next to the green T! You did it!”
Leo: Papa Leo
would be the best playtime partner in all the land. He’d do whatever his wanted
to do, but then make sure to switch it up so it’s not always the same thing. For
a change of scenery, he’d probably bring his kid to the park a lot to play
there as well as take them to places that have a lot of kiddy rides and stuff. He’d also throw in a sport here and there to
see if his kid inherited his sportiness. “Do you want to play catch today? I
bought you your own mitt. And here’s a hat. *places his own hat on kid’s head*”
Ken: Papa Ken
would play pretend with his child all the time and he’d be so involved you’d
think he’d be really living in his own fictional world. If his kid wanted to
play tea party and wanted him to dress up then he would. If his kid wanted to
pretend to be an astronaut, well he’d pretend to be the rocket ship. ”The Amazing Rocket Ship will blast off in
3-2-1! *picks kid and starts making rocket ship nosies – it would sound very
Ravi: Papa Ravi
will play whatever his kids wanted to play. He’ll be similar to Ken in terms of
making sure that he’s realistic with it, and he’d play along and not try to
change whatever is going through his kid’s mine. He’d really enjoy watching
their creativity and imagination. “Oh,
sweetie. I need some more tea. Rapunzel here knocked it over with her hair.”
HongBin: Papa HongBin
would try and play with his kids as much as he could, but honestly, he’d be
that one parent to hand them a tablet with loads of educational fun games they
can play with. He’d sit next to them and help them, of course. Now HongBin
wouldn’t mind chasing his kid around the house playing superhero, but just not
as often. “Okay, okay. Daddy’s back
hurts. Let’s look at your Leap Frog App, yeah?”
Hyuk: Papa Hyuk
would be a mixture of all of the above. He’d play pretend, he’d make them watch
fun educational videos, as well as play hide and go seek for hours and hours.
Anything that’ll make his kids smile and then make them really sleepy
afterwards. “Okay, it’s my turn. I’ll go
hide and you come and find daddy. *goes and hides underneath the sink*”
Out of the Ashes, part 5/? Rose Tyler, human!Tenth Doctor (AU)
Rose Tyler is used to being alone, having learned the hard way that, eventually, everyone disappears. After losing the one person she dared to believe wouldn’t leave her, she stops trying to believe that anything will last. She’s determined that no one will hurt her or her son again.
At seven thirty, Monday morning, James was bouncing on the balls of his feet outside Rose’s flat after giving the door a “shave and a haircut” knock.
“You’re early,” she said as she opened the door, looking at him in confusion.
“Yes, I am,” he said. “But…I brought doughnuts.”
She narrowed her eyes at him suspiciously, but he simply gave her a smile and held up the bag in his right hand.
“Yeah, alright then,” she said after a moment, opening the door wide for him. “God, I don’t know which of you is more excited.”
“Hard to tell,” he admitted, following her further into the flat.
“James!” Ian cried happily, sliding off his chair and running to him, wrapping his arms around James’ knees. James immediately put the doughnuts and various items under his other arm on the table, then reached down and swung the boy up onto his hip.
“You’re not gonna make me learn about trees, are you?” Ian asked, anxiety all over his little face.