Since I'm spending so much time in Chicago now, I decided to go up to Wisconsin to help collect some votes for the recall effort against Mary Lazich.
I don't think I've been part of something so sincerely grass-roots in a very long time. The women who were there, were by and large housewives who were honestly fed up. They had never been involved in politics before, but they couldn't stand by and and see their state go the direction it was going. Also, this is one of the more strongly republican districts, and therefore the powers that be that are helping out in organizing and signature collecting, in other recall efforts are not spending as many resources on this one.
There were women there who have been out every single day, collecting signatures at village halls and street corners, and any way they can, often alone. This is courage I have not found in myself, no matter how mad I've been about something. I am truly impressed.
The part I found the most, shall we say, entertaining, about this all, is the response I elicited from the people we were trying to get signatures from. Comments included "white power", which I attribute to layer of fuzz on my head in place of hair, and a ramble about whether Lazich was some sort of Pakistani name (well, at least this person knows that I am South Asian?!?), various attempts at being lewd, and being followed in a car while canvasing.
Its been a long time since I've spent time in a public setting in a very conservative part of this country. And this is why. The women I was with were surprised by my reaction (rather lack thereof) to these comments. I'm not sure where that comes from. Partially, I suppose, from the fact that it is much easier to take things on the chin when something like this happens in a place one does not have an emotional investment in. Partially, ironically, I suppose this comes from 7 years of training in academia (I won't name names).
I've talked about how I feel much more comfortable (at least when I had hair) to go to a conservative village in India than to a conservative part of this country. There is a huge level of perceived safety in being able to blend into a crowd, even though the former situation is probably, in actuality more dangerous.