A Powerful Symbol

A Powerful Symbol

We live in a world that is full of symbols: some positive, some negative, some physical, some just a bit of ink on a wall or pixels on a computer screen. Sometimes an action becomes a powerful symbol - sometimes a non-action is equally as powerful.

Case in point: Author and poet Sarah Bird chose to symbolically decline an honor from the Texas Legislature when she found out the “honor” didn’t include an invitation to address the members in person.

Bird, a badass woman, wrote a book about several badass Texas women, but the legislature only really seemed to care that Bird’s book would look good sitting in their library. “See?? Look how much we support women - we elected a female governor! (Once...)” The award didn’t include an invitation to speak and address the elected officials.   

They weren’t interested in hearing what she really had to say. This “honor” was a symbol, not a conversation. Bird refused the award.

Instead, she shared her story and the women’s rights-focused speech she’d started preparing with the Texas Tribune, sharing with the people what she’d wanted to say to the legislators: how she believes that the legislators are using women’s bodies as a symbolic “battleground.” (It’s a great speech that would have made Wendy Davis proud.)

She knew people would be interested to hear about the legislature’s lack of interest - bordering on hypocrisy - in hearing the POV of a person they chose to honor. She took the power of the symbol into her own hands.  

Read her story in the Texas Tribune, and keep in mind the importance of local journalism and political watchdogs - including people and publications. These let the public know about what’s really going on behind the doors of fancy state government chambers. They do the hard work of following up, holding lawmakers to their promises (or trying to, anyway) and also provide a forum for people to share how they are directly impacted by state and local government.

You've read why this matters, now read the original article here:

Texas lawmakers retracted my award, but I wrote an acceptance speech anyway

By Sarah Bird, Jan. 11, 2017

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