A gathering in Massachusetts last week provided a window into the worries and fears of many Americans who see the end of the Obama administration as the beginning of a nightmare.
Democratic Congresswoman Katherine Clark convened a public conversation on December 3 at Cambridge College titled, “Moving Forward: Promoting Safety & Tolerance in Our Communities.” The goal was to give practical tools for creating safe spaces and resources for combatting hate and intolerance, and community based action steps moving forward. The point was to acknowledge post-election fears, anxieties and vulnerabilities many of her constituents will confront in the looming presidency of Donald Trump.
“I ran for office to help our communities and to go to Washington and work for families,” Rep. Clark stated. “That role is going to be more important now than it has ever been. As I’ve seen the appointments and the structure of the Trump administration take place, my concerns are mounting, not dissipating. We have to be vigilant. We have to be armed with facts, and we have to be making sure that we work together to create and protect our inclusive communities.”
Clark, who has represented Massachusetts’s 5th Congressional District since 2013, has never been someone to shy away from difficult issues. Just last month, the U.S. House passed her legislation, The Bringing Postpartum Depression of the Shadows Act, to provide states federal grants to develop and maintain programs for better screening and treatment of postpartum depression.
With a recent uptick in hate crimes, a call for a Muslim registry, anticipating threats to abortion access and copay-free contraception, fears of being targeted because you’re transgender or fears of imminent deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants, and Clark’s office fielding calls every day from hundreds of her constituents since the election the congresswoman pulled together a panel for an open discussion, which I hope many more elected officials will conduct across the country.
The panel comprised of Dr. John Robbins, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Eva Millona, Executive Director of Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), and Christian Miron, Deputy Director of NARAL Pro-Choice, and myself. Eva Martin Blythe, Executive Director of the YWCA Cambridge served as moderator.
Fielding questions and concerns expressed from the audience highlighted how women and other Americans living on the margins have the most to lose in a country pivoting away from their full protections and participation in a multicultural democracy.
“Our democracy is on the line,” Clark told the audience. “This isn’t about Democrats or Republicans. This is about what we have for our future. We need our citizens more than ever to be involved.”