A report from our league delegate Dr. Sharon Alexander:
Dear League Member,
I have just finished attending the California League convention in Pasadena. And it was so exciting, that I want to tell you about it.
The mission of the LWV is to "empower voters and to defend democracy." That means that the League has become much more than an organization that registers voters. Though the League is not partisan (that is, it doesn't recommend particular candidates), the League DOES take on policies as an organization. And as I previously explained, the League has the ear of our State government officials. When the League becomes politically active, it becomes attacked by some who will say that it is not being non-partisan. When someone attacks the League as being partisan, what they are really saying is "shut up and go away." The correct answer to that question is that "the LWV decides what partisan is, not detractors".
One of the major themes at this year's convention was recognizing how those of us in the center of power fail to recognize and account for those who are in the "borderlands" of power. When our privilege is questioned, we often become defensive, especially "progressive" whites. PaKou Her, who is of Hmong descent, gave a whole workshop on the subject and referred participants to a YouTube (rather long) presentation by Dr. Robin DiAngelo, who discusses 'White Fragility' and our reactions when called on our racism. PaKou suggests that to become more aware, we should each look back each day at our actions and thought processes to see where we have been used our entitlement. The League believes that building democracy is best done by engaging and growing community.
The League voted in five new issues of education and advocacy:
- Children and Schools
- Housing and Homelessness
- Criminal Justice Reform
- Climate Change
- Making Democracy Work
The group also passed 3 new resolutions. That means putting the name of the League of Women Voters behind:
1) Asking our California Senators to support HR 1
2) Asking our local, state, and federal representatives to make climate emergency declarations
3) Development of a Charter School Position (This engendered by far the most discussion among the membership)
We were addressed by the new president of the the Rose Parade; the third woman and first Latina in that position, who proudly announced that the theme this year will be The Power of Hope.
I also went to a workshop on Building Bridges Across Differences in a Polarized America, using relational communication tools. It was easier than I imagined. For the first time the future of our nation has come up in polls as the most common source of stress in our country. Pam and I think a Civil Discourse event this would be a great thing for us to put on in Torrance. There is a 6-episode podcast entitled Nextdoor Strangers, apparently worth seeing. We may be able to play this or show a short film to bring in attendees.
And I went to a workshop on building a League of the future; brainstorming on inviting new people to join the League, and commenting on how easy it is for those new to the League to become empowered and encouraged to manifest new ideas. Very encouraging for young people and marginalized folks to step in. Lots of ways to find mentoring and support from other members. The suggestion was strongly made to partner with other organizations. A poll was taken among 32 members determining that among them there were 160 affiliations to other groups!
Lastly, I went to a caucus on how to fight effectively to finally pass the Equal Rights Amendment in this country. This is a right whose time has come and then some. Especially when Roe v Wade is the primary issue that will come before the Supreme Court.We need only one more State to ratify it in order to make it the law of the land. We have identified North Carolina as the best state to focus our efforts. One of the things that we can do is adopt chapters in NC as sister chapters and ask them how we can be of support.
I couldn't possibly report everything I learned this weekend. In sum, I met 200 (mostly) women who are bright and dedicated, inspiring and creative in finding ways to support democracy in America. Being in this group feels hopeful and empowering.
Grateful to have had this fabulous opportunity to attend the convention.