News & Opinion » The (Civil) Society Column

Revenge of the Snowflakes

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BY THE time you read this, the last shimmer of the Great New Year’s Snowfall of 2018 will have melted into nothing more than a glorious, gossamer memory.

Holy Mother Mathilda, it was a beautiful thing, wasn’t it? The surreal tranquility after the storm, the delighted crazies on boogie boards sledding down the carless roads, the flush of donations of blankets and food to the homeless shelters.

The Northerners can snort all they like, but as I admire the sunlight glinting off the frosty stack still piled on the windowsill, I do believe I have never seen anything quite as lovely as a snowflake.

Which strikes me as funny, considering all the terrible things we’ve heard about snowflakes in the last year, mostly as a pejorative lobbed to signal fragility and meddlesome inefficacy.

As if caring about social equality, economic justice and environmental protection is a weakness, a flawed worldview that impedes humanity’s true destiny of destroying itself and the planet.

The irony, of course, is that when a bunch of snowflakes get together, they can make a huge impact: Bust the pipes and freeze up entire municipalities, or say, take out Cape Cod.

It’s been almost a year since more than five million people stomped their boots and shook their pussyhats in the march heard around the world, and the snowflakes have continued to whirl to become a veritable bomb cyclone.

#MeToo has already put a big chill on misogynistic corporate and media culture, and anything smacking of white supremacy is being iced out of the mainstream.

On the local front, Chatham County Commissioner Tabitha Odell is vocally advocating for the removal of the state’s gender-biased “tampon tax,” and the effort to divest the Talmadge Bridge of its racist past is climbing towards the tipping point.

Of course some progress comes at more glacial pace in good ol’ Slowvannah. The City’s recent budget cuts will leave venerated social and cultural non-profit organizations out in the cold, notably the Rape Crisis Center, which evoked passionate and unapologetically furious response from Executive Director Kesha Gibson-Carter at the Dec. 21 City Council meeting.

“We are a first response organization that operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and our staff works in tandem with law enforcement to collect forensics evidence. There should be automatic allocations from the public safety budget to aid in these efforts,” she fumed in a recent email, adding that RCC provides legal aid, therapy, and other follow-up care for survivors of sexual assault.

The lack of compassion seen in the budget cuts appears to mirror our local government’s apathy around rape, reflected in the low rates of arrests and convictions of rapists and that outrageous backlog of rape kits.

“For nearly four years, I have been expressing to leaders and elected officials my concern to no avail,” laments Kesha.

Perhaps they’ll start to listen as the sound of the gale becomes even louder when RCC joins Safe Shelter, Moms Demand Action and LB4 & After Foundation this Saturday, January 13 for Voices of Savannah: Survivors of Rape, Domestic Violence and Murder.

Taking place in the Ogeechee Theatre at the Armstrong campus of Georgia Southern, this is the first time the three organizations have partnered in the effort to spotlight the connections between these crimes.

“It’s all part of the same coin,” says co-organizer Kristy Edenfield, pointing out that DNA culled from long-shelved rape kits are now being cross-referenced to investigate cold case murders.

LB4’s Linda Wilder Bryan echoes the importance of broadening the platform. “Rapists commit domestic violence and vice versa, and these things lead to homicide. All of it affects our children. We have to come together.”

Author, domestic abuse survivor and Marsy’s Law advocate Tamiko Lowry-Pugh will be among the speakers, and local women and men will share their stories. Every city, county and state elected official has been invited to the event, though at press time, only District Attorney Meg Heap and Alderwoman Estella Shabazz have confirmed.

“The ideal outcome is that elected officials hear the voices of their constituents and remember them when they make decisions,” says Kristy, reminding that the 2018 congressional and 2019 local elections are only a few seasons away.

Speaking of which, the snowflakes are mobilizing politically, and a change in the weather is highly predicted come November. #GrabEmBytheMidterms has become a national rallying cry, and amped voter registration efforts has already flipped seats (college football notwithstanding, bless y’all, Alabama.)

Oh yes, winter has come, and another excellent warm-up opportunity comes this Sunday, Jan. 14 with the premiere of The Women’s March Film: A Documentary about Democracy & Human Rights. The free community screening event, hosted by the Jewish Educational Alliance, also includes the first peek at the digital research guide compiled by Georgia State University archivist Morna Gerard, including dozens of interviews with Savannah activists and artists who participated in marches near and far.

And though the last trace of snow will be long gone, it’s still gonna be downright frosty next Sunday, Jan. 21 as local ice queens gather for the Savannah Women’s March Anniversary: #PowerToThePolls. The day-long extravaganza will feature workshops on running for office, the importance of self-care and how to make the Resistance more intersectional and inclusive. Tickets are free but required, and advance registration has already necessitated a change larger venue, so get on it, Elsa.

From the coast of Maine to the halls of Congress, we’re witnessing how a bunch of snowflakes can become a blizzard, capable of toppling structures both concrete and cultural.

Back at my windowsill staring at the inch-high puff glimmering in the Friday afternoon sun, I have another thought: By braving the elements and working gently together, snowflakes also have the power—if only temporarily—to blanket the world in a pristine, unbroken peace.

cs

Women's March Film: Free Screening

Savannah Women's March Anniversary: #PowerToThePolls

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