Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Walking the walk

As long as I could remember, I had been an advocate/activist.  Even as a very little girl, I was an ambassador for an organization that encouraged lip-reading and speaking, not sign language (staying away from the Deaf community, making one 'hearing').  Mind you, it was my mom who volunteered me for that position, and of course my face was on newsletters at local hospitals and audiologists' offices back then in the 1970's.   How funny it is that I'm immersed in the Deaf community nowadays.  And that wasn't the first time in advocacy....  Nope, that would be when I was a very very little baby.

Mom had pushed me in a stroller when she marched with other women fighting for equality.

(from Washington DC ARCHIVES)

Mom talked with many (teachers, representatives, senators, board of education, everyone) to encourage passing of Education of All Handicapped Children Act (which was passed in 1975), which was then renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  Just one of ten thousands speaking for support of this act, which increased education for children with disabilities. 

Marches for Reproductive rights.  HIV/AIDS education/prevention, Take the Night Back, GLBT rights, all in 1980's and 1990's. Been there, done here while growing up.   When not pulled in the Radio flyer red wagon, I rode a bike.  When not on a bike, I walked in my sneakers.  I was a walker, a cheerleader, and fundraiser for many causes. I sat at booths to explain about equality, HIV education, and access to communication for the Deaf.  

When I was a freshman at Gallaudet University in 1989, I even got an opportunity to talk with my Representative  and two senators at the U.S. Capitol, explaining the importance of passing the Americans with Disabilities Act before it was passed in 1990.  

In the last two decades, I had been advocating for vulnerable adults' right to be listened to, and to be respected,  and not to be babied.  Being a mother hen, I was fiercely championing for individuals with intellectual disabilities to increase independence in housing and employment, much as they are able to.   Trembling in my shoes, I stood up to abusers, while shielding women.  I held hands with victims of rape as they were being treated behind the hospital curtains during the sexual assault examination.  Was a legal aid advocate; victim advocate; and medical advocate in numerous fields.   While doing extensive studies in graduate school, I encouraged free-thinking, exploring beyond limitations and civil right to marriage (marched with fellow graduate friends in protesting Prop 8 in 2008.) 

It was over a year and half years ago that I stopped activism. 

That was when I had struggled with my own reproductive issues which included surgery and struggles with my own identity.  

Through the decades of being confident and assertive, now I found myself extremely vulnerable.  After years of knowing who I was, I wasn't sure anymore who I was.  If I was not to be a mother, what was my gift to the future?  If I am not to have children, why should I care to make that the world is livable, with civil rights to everyone?   Cannot I leave a mark on the world?  

All the fierce passion, all joy of empowerment,  all my desire to better the world, and I never had a chance to be a mother after all.  I felt cheated. 

I was angry.  I stayed in the darkness of rooms, refusing the sunshine, rejecting the world's cajoling of sharing news crying for help in many areas, especially women rights and reproductive rights nowadays.

Right.... Reproductive Rights, I never got to practice that myself.  

Can't help but see the irony there.  

Last month, I was surfing on Facebook when I saw someone posted a meme "I Stand with Wendy Davis!" That name wasn't familiar to me, so I checked  Facebook, Twitter and Google and discovered her goal of filibustering against the new abortion regulation bill in Texas. 

Wendy Davis, June 25, 2013

The neglected ember, within my spirit, sparked with interest in seeing what Wendy was doing.   More she stood in her sneakers, more she spoke, the more the world watched her.  I found out many women sent her their experiences to her to read aloud, more I was reminded of something I had forgotten during my grief.

It's not about me.   It's not about you.   It's about ALL of us.  One for all, all for one.  Unus pro omnibus, omnes pro uno.    To better the world, we better ourselves.    To advocate for people, we advocate ourselves.   In my way, I have been advocating for infertility awareness in the Deaf community for a while. That was a small step for me.  

So with reflecting what Wendy Davis is doing, with noticing how thousands of women showed up at Texas to protest, with showing up in North Carolina, and with recalling Occupy Wall (Restore the Fourth) protests (still alive!), I felt like the world had just slapped me, as of going "du'oh!"  

I realized, I do have children in a sense-  my nephew (and future nieces/nephews), my cousins' children, my friends' children.   If not of my womb, then for them, for the women, for the vulnerable adults and elderly, and for the children who need the world more than we do, especially in this political environment.  

After reading a blog written by volunteers who advocate safety and empowerment at a local organization here, the volunteers are the witnesses and warriors to a constant war on the sidewalk almost daily.  I was reminded of the one thing I had been interested into doing, but hadn't taken the opportunity to do: To walk the walk, to participate in the battle. Not to stand in sidelines.   I contacted the writers recently and inquired about volunteering.

Well, I'll be wearing an orange vest locking arms with fellow volunteers in the wee hours of Saturday morning, to keep clients safe, protecting their right to choose for themselves, without politics or religion butting their noses in.   

I might be infertile but I'll always protect reproductive choice, all choices.  The advocate roars again! 
(from the movie Ace Ventura)


  1. WOW,'ve really done A LOT, haven't you? I SALUTE you. *bow* LOVE the spirit of this post.

    1. Yup, and more that hadn't been written about! :-D I have a passion for many causes, more than what was listed in the post.

      Thanks, thanks, Amel! :) But really, we need to thank all activists and advocates, who go out of their way to speak for us all, even more for folks who HAD experience (i.e. being a vulnerable individual, victim of rape, or even a survivor) and still speak up. They need to be recognized for what they do.

    2. Agree totally with you about the people who've had those experiences who dare to speak up. :-)

  2. I love this post, too. The world needs both courage and compassion, so thank you for walking the walk this way!

    "If I was not to be a mother, what was my gift to the future?" I wonder about this all the time. But since I'm still TTC, I'm in the habit of putting everything else on hold "for now". Thanks for this reminder that there are always ways to get involved, even for one morning.

    1. Yes, Hope, there are always ways to champion, even if just for an hour, a day or a year. Just letting an escort know his service is appreciated, hugging an homeless woman, or holding a child living with HIV, all small gestures are cherished equally to big gestures.



    Wow this is a powerful post on how we impact the world!

    I too have wondered what's the point...thank you for reminding me :)