Vol. 4, No. 4
April 2017
Mother and Daughter Write About the Women's March
Sharon Szafoni:
We [herself and her daughter, Jessica] originally were going to go to DC but I really did not feel like being on a bus that long and in a huge crowd when I'm not familiar with the area. That being said I am so glad we stayed in Chicago. They never expected a crowd like that, did they? It really was a great day. So many people on the same page. No violence....in Chicago.

You've heard from my mom, Sharon Szafoni, with whom I attended the event. She is without a doubt the one person I most wanted to share this experience with, in addition to the women and supporters of intersectionality in Chicago as an entity. I wanted to feel a part of that entity and I knew she would understand why as the day unfolded. She sympathized and/or empathized during my every experience as a young girl trying to grow into what I thought I was supposed to be based on outside perception, with my living as a victim of assault and the resulting PTSD and depression, dealing with compassionate-to-a-fault emotions that led me to hurt for my marginalized friends I couldn't fully relate to. My mom also countered every hard thing I've ever gone through with so much love and confidence and often empathy that I heavily credit her with my ability to lead a somewhat unusual but hugely satisfying life, learn more about myself through the healing process after being assaulted than I ever would have thought possible, recognize that my overly compassionate ways aren't a bad part of me, and so many more things that come with being a woman and come with being me. A big part of this day was about me and my mom.

A side note: We initially intended to attend the Women's March- DC, but our funds couldn't stretch quite far enough to make that possible, and I my mom had some safety concerns anyway. Ultimately, I was so so so happy to be in my own city for this day.

Another big part of attending this event was an effort at learning to handle my emotions and depression after the election. Post-assault, I went through a bad bout of depression, but since pulling through that a few years ago no one would guess it is something I struggle with.

Post-election, some of the feelings of isolation, lack of safety, irrational hurt for other people, disbelief in the goodness of people started to trickle back in. I went downtown with my boyfriend and by myself when he was out of town just to "witness" the Trump protests. I didn't want to shout or carry signs, but I wanted to be a body there. Prior to the weeks after the election I didn't fall into the protestor category. I learned to stand up to what is wrong, and took pride in doing that (in safe situations) amongst friends, acquaintances, etc., and I've involved myself pretty heavily in environmental, educational/troubled youth causes. But I never threw myself into a cause in the form of protesting.

The last reason I attended the Women's March is my belief in having a safe place for my marginalized friends and, in this case, the hundreds of thousands of people I shared my city with who need a safe place now more than ever. My mom has been the safe place that I get to go whenever I want. Not everyone has that, and it hurts my heart, makes my guts turn. No one should live in fear in this country; safety is the second rung in Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs only above physiological needs. I wish everyone who attended that March and all of their loved ones knew that I, and so many other people, want them to feel like they live in a free, secular, and democratic country. But how can they find a safe space to feel that right now? The March was an opportunity to be there, physically and emotionally, for everyone I can relate to and those I cant. In fact, at the march I signed a giant wooden American flag in permanent marker, "Be a safe place for others." I mean that in any way possible small or large, passing or consistent, because no matter the circumstances it will be significant right now. Provide a sense of safety for those who need it.

Ultimately, I attended the Women's March for three major reasons: my mom, myself, and the provision of a sense of safety and support. There are so many moments from this day that I could delve into... personal encounters, finding ourselves situated near a sign reading, "Because I didn't press charges twenty years ago," and noticing the sign holder was there with her own mom, confidence gained amongst a range of emotions felt, the positivity impressed upon the crowd by certain speakers, trying to stay in touch with my friends in attendance in New York City and Washington DC, and I could just keep going.

Universal Child Care: We Almost Had It

During the 1940s, men went to war, women went to work, and Uncle Sam watched the kids. It was World War II, and a form of universal child care was proven necessary. The Lanham Act, which was created to provide funding for infrastructure projects needed for the war effort, was interpreted in a way that recognized the need for child care centers. This interpretation was supported by most legislators. One, in particular, declared, "With mothers joining the workforce to stabilize the economy, children were in need of care." So it was done, and between roughly 1942 and 1946, the United States had a universal child care program. The child care centers Uncle Sam provided turned out to be quite efficient and accessible. The program only cost parents between 9 and 10 dollars a day (in today's dollars) for 12 hours of care. The care, however, turned out to be only temporary.

The war ended, the centers closed, and the U.S. went back to its previous image of family life--care provided by mothers. Many women contended that the program should stay up and running. Eleanor Roosevelt spoke out in favor of it, stating "Many thought they [the centers] were purely a war emergency measure. A few of us had an inkling that perhaps they were a need which was constantly with us, but one that we had neglected to face in the past." But the country's discomfort with the other-than-mother approach to child care was strong enough to squash the hopes of working mothers. This confining view of the American family and ignorance of the struggles of working class families is also what shut down the next attempt at universal child care.

In 1971, the Comprehensive Child Development Act was passed by Congress. The bill was co-sponsored by Minnesota Senator Walter Mondale and Indiana Representative John Brademas. The bill received great support from both Republicans and Democrats. It seemed like the United States was finally progressing with child care, but it was ultimately vetoed by President Richard Nixon. The president's veto cited not only fiscal irresponsibility, but also family-weakening implications. Nixon, at the time, was influenced by Pat Buchanan, who served as his special assistant. Nixon and Buchanan did not want to send the message that the government should be involved in child care. Buchanan was reported saying, "the federal government should not be in the business of raising America's children." That comment emphasizes the government's lack of "it takes a village" mentality that many other developed countries have in regards to child care.

According to the Raising of America documentary series, among rich nations, the United States' child care ranks 22nd in quality and 16th in affordability. CNN reports that In a majority of the states, the average annual cost of sending a child to child care costs more than a year's tuition at a public university. Our country has failed to recognize and provide for families with working parents.

One might wonder where this new presidency will get us in regards to child care. President Trump's proposal, influenced by his daughter Ivanka Trump, would deduct the cost of child care from parents' income taxes. This plan, however, would not help lower-income families since they have less tax liability. According to the Tax Policy Center, families with incomes below $40,000 would save $20 or less per year. This proposal is far from sufficient to truly help our country improve the accessibility of quality child care, and until our government works to fix that problem, our children will likely be the ones that suffer the most.


Heather Booth: An Activist You Should Know AND CAN MEET!

Lilly Rivlin's documentary Heather Booth: Changing the World
will be shown at the
Gene Siskel Film Center at 164 N. State

Friday, May 19 at 7:45 pm

Saturday, May 20 at 7:30 pm
After each showing, there will be a Q & A Program with Heather Booth, filmmaker Lilly Rivlin, and participants in the film. The program is organized by the Chicago Women's History Center.
Examples of Heather Booth's activities:
  • registered voters in Mississippi in 1964 during the Freedom Summer Project
  • organized the JANE underground that provided abortions to women before abortion was legal
  • studied community organizing with Saul Alinsky and later founded the Midwest Academy, a Chicago institution that has trained generations of activists and organizers
  • founded Citizen Action, a national lobbying group with branches that respond to local issues, such as environmental or consumer concerns.
*The documentary was an official selection of both the 2017 Through Women's Eyes Festival and the 2017 Sarasota Film Festival.


Lynda J. Tipton
Lynda J. Tipton was a long-time social justice activist, who was a group leader in the Chicago Women's Liberation Union's (CWLU) Liberation School, and who also worked briefly as a CWLU staff person. She then went on to work for 10 years as a union representative for clerical employees, janitors, and technicians with SEIU Local 73. Lynda's involvement in progressive causes led her to march in support of civil and women's rights, and in opposition to the Vietnam and Iraq wars. As the mother of a biracial son, she was one of the founders in the 1980's of a non-profit organization to support interracial and intercultural families and relationships by holding educational meetings and social events.

Born in West Virginia and raised in Tennessee in a coal mining family, Lynda attended college in Tennessee for one year before moving to Chicago. She worked as a secretary while pursuing her bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle, as it was then known. She started graduate school and was employed at a sleep lab as a researcher before working at the CWLU.

Although Lynda J. Tipton passed away at the age of 67 in 2013, her longstanding commitment to social justice will not be forgotten. In 2015, her family and friends created the Lynda J. Tipton Award for Social Justice at the Crossroads Fund. In each of the last three years, Crossroads has honored with that Award an organization that promotes the values that Lynda championed for so many years. The Award is a fitting tribute to Lynda and her passion for social justice. In 2017 the award went to Organized Communities Against Deportations (OCAD).

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