With Memorial Day right around the corner, I’m doing the thing I always do… staying late at work to blog despite the fact that our office is closing early. What the heck, self?!
This week, I joined a new online space called the Ohana Slack. Slack is a collaborative workspace plus instant messaging platform that I’ve only ever used with 30 people or less, but this one has 1,000+ people – many of whom chat about Salesforce all day, every day. It’s a new experience for me… and frankly, I might not be able to stay in it very long because it is so enticing and distracting (oops).
I joined the #women-in-tech channel and I’ve already connected with some people. This week, I dealt with a disrespectful sales person who mistook my name and never apologized, “forgot” about the nonprofit discount he had offered, and ignored all of my questions that didn’t have to do with closing the deal at hand. Another woman in the channel shared a story about a salesman calling her “Sweetie” on business calls. WHAT. THE. HECK. Immediately, folks piled on to offer solidarity and move toward action. We gotta stop these salesman from calling other customers “Sweetie” and we need each other for that.
Aaaaanyway, getting back to Memorial Day, I learned that the holiday was originally called “Decoration Day” in honor of decorating soldier graves with flowers, flags, and assorted femme flair. (jk) I learned that the Civil War was the most gruesome of historic American military periods. More Americans died in the Civil War than all other wars combined through the Korean War era (not that we should place American lives lost above others, but I just thought it was a noteworthy fact). I went looking for a leftie perspective on Memorial Day and beloved Howard Zinn didn’t disappoint:
Memorial Day should be a day for putting flowers on graves and planting trees. Also, for destroying the weapons of death that endanger us more than they protect us, that waste our resources and threaten our children and grandchildren.Howard Zinn, 1976
To be honest, I don’t feel much of a personal connection to the Civil War and military history overall, but I do believe in the power of collective memory and civic duty. And I believe in taking time to pause and reflect when they are offered to us… sometimes in the form of days off and summer beach trips!
Still echoing in my mind are the daily indignities we face in tech industry (broadest possible definition of “we” as underrepresented and under-respected people, from women (cis and trans) to nonbinary folks, people of Color, queer folks, poor and working class folks, and more!). This might not be the most graceful segue, but it’s clear that this is what I want to write about today. When I really think about what we face, I feel outraged, exasperated and full of grief and rage. This year, I’m going to infuse my Memorial Day by remembering the people we’ve lost in the contemporary civil war for dignity, inclusion, and self-determination.
Those people deserve wreath upon wreath!
Those gravestones deserve tender care and diligent maintenance.
Those martyrs deserve public recognition. Parades! Banners!
Could that be the point of Memorial Day? To honor heroes, heroines, and gender expansive ancestors? Who are otherwise unnamed? Who fought for our current freedoms? I can’t make a case for re-branding Memorial Day for everyone, forever – or if it’s even a good idea to reclaim military holidays for social justice purposes. But like I said, find myself feeling enraged, and grief stricken, and reverent. Perhaps it’s the timely combination of summertime, Memorial Day, and feeling a sense of solidarity in the #women-in-tech channel that brought it out of me.
The battle will pick back up on Tuesday – and I’ll be ready.
PS – Want to be show up for/with people who are underrepresented in the Salesforce ecosystem? Join our newly launching chapter of Amplify, now in Philadelphia! We have a launch event coming up on June 6 – it’s gonna be awesome!!