Parent voices matter in our democracy today

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So much information to process to make informed decisions in a short amount of time: budget cuts everywhere, systems continue to fail our children and families regarding livable paying jobs, institutional racism/ageism/sexism/etc., affordable housing, brown fields destroying our environment, fear of terrorist attacks, access to affordable quality childcare and outrageous health care costs…the list goes on and on!

Our fight for equity where? How important is it to the collective us? Why are we letting this system dictate our destiny?

We as parents constantly tell our children to speak truth: see something, say something: never back down when you believe in something bigger than yourself: your voice matters, so think, plan, strategize and take action. All of these things sound good in theory, but what really happens in practice — when parents take action to remedy the aforementioned topics and to work towards collective change?

I will tell you first hand that parents witness the harsh reality that the system doesn’t love them back, as they get fed lies or dismissive attitudes from those who make the decisions. The powerful one to three percent that own the wealth in our state keep us oppressed on many levels with no shame or excuses as to why.

In turn, minority black, brown and Latinos, who are really the majority in this state, let alone in this world, continue to be treated as less than (unless someone needs a good story for their statistical analysis in a journal or report of some kind, then we are completely forgotten until the next time).

Why should we have to live with such ambivalence in a democratic world of the free…when we function with fear of how the system won’t work for us and may take it out on our most precious gifts, our children.

I ask you:  “Who will save our dignity, pride, unity and our freedom — when we succumb to the system that keeps us down?”

Our system thrives on cultivating the have and have-nots blame game versus unifying voices of change.

I say let us unite with all black, brown, white and Latinos when we select those to be our voices of power, choosing people who will represent the collective us equitably and fairly across the board.

This is our community, our freedom and our world. “We” have the power to co-create whatever our deepest desires are with truth, respect, acceptance, financial stability and safety for all!

We need to reclaim our “collective power” as citizens by understanding the roles each of us play in enabling our representatives to do a mediocre job. We must demand they rise to the occasion with solution-based planning and collective action that lifts us all, despite financial struggles.

As stated so eloquently by Tess Kovach of Fairfield in Ordinary Times:

“Citizenship is a verb, it must be done, it requires effort, it requires us to all be democrats (with a small letter d). This means embracing and encouraging dialogue. It means participating in our communities and civic gatherings, serving on committees and juries and councils, sharing our opinions publicly and being open to the scrutiny other reasonable democrats might have of those very opinions. We are majestically bad at this, and probably getting entirely worse at it as a nation.

“Because of neglect of the role of the broader role of citizenship, Americans can blame themselves for the unenlightened bitterness and abject stagnation of politics. We can do better, but it will require a renewed interest in achieving common things instead of individual victories. It will require taking our job as participants in a democracy more seriously.

“The failure of the average man and woman to participate in the public sphere leaves that sphere to the people who are not average. It leaves that sphere to the inordinately ambitious, self serving, profiteering, ill motivated and uninspired individuals.

“We need to fight for common things again. The intangible pieces that surround us, but inevitably improve the quality of life for all people. Infrastructure, education, healthcare, reliable systems of justice and deliberation, healthy engagement on environmental and resource issues, all the things that are too easy to leave to those with self-interest at stake – they have to be balanced out with the participation of those with less immediate self interest. That’s the only way this will work.”

(Read Kovach’s full essay on this subject here.)

We need to make our democracy work for the collective change we all long for by coming together with parents, youth, providers and constituents who are ready to guide this fight of constant injustices that keep us from making the progress necessary.

We need to keep our government, legislators and political leaders accountable for all they do for the wellness of the greater good of ALL people in our state and nation by moving our dialogue to action for “real equitable change.”

To join this collective us: ALL-IN CT ~ Equity4Change movement, please contact, CT Parent Power at Marilyn@ctparentpower.org

Marilyn Calderón, M.ED, is the Executive Director of CT Parent Power.

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