8 minutes and 46 seconds. I can't get it out of my head. Since May 25th, I've been thinking about 8 minutes and 46 seconds. It flashed over me as Le Husband and I celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary. It hovered as we celebrated my wonderful mother-in-law's 60th birthday. Milestones suddenly became meaningless because of 8 minutes and 46 seconds. It is on repeat. I can't get it to stop. Even as I write this, I still see those numbers glaring at me.
For many of us, these numbers signify a wake up call. For me, it was a confrontation. For a while, as I was making these styling videos that were geared towards being a fun distraction while dealing with a pandemic, I just felt directionless. What was I trying to achieve? Why do I make these videos or post these pictures? Where is fashion's place in this world? Should I talk more politics? What is my purpose?
I couldn't answer this until May 25th. It forced me to ask myself some hard questions, do some inner-reckoning, and wake the heck up. I realized I was wasting away my purpose. By just producing feel-good, easy style content, I became a part of the problem, contributing to complacency, but even more egregious, to apathy. I ignored the slow loss of confidence in the vote, in elections, in our government. I ignored the growing paranoia in my Whatsapp groups, Facebook friends, and even my own family.
As a long time American history nerd, I fell in love with the narrative of America's birth. A nation of farmers, blacksmiths and tailors deciding enough is enough of tyrannical rule, overthrowing a king to establish a government by the people, for the people. America's problematic, bloody history aside, what with slavery, the slaughter and subjugation of our indigenous people still not fully recognized, that phrase has stayed with me: by the people, for the people.
This has led me to a decision: it is time that Ammachic does more than just demonstrate a cool saree drape or make a DIY face mask.
Ammachic has been my escape, but now it is my megaphone. When you come into my space, be prepared to be confronted with Black Lives Matter support, advocacy of progressive politics, call outs about the discriminatory and exclusionary nature of high fashion, and all other manners of uncomfortable confrontations.
But most importantly, from now till November 3rd, I will be working to WIN BACK OUR COUNTRY!
How will we achieve this? Simple. VOTE.
Somewhere along the way, we've lost faith in the power of our vote. For so long, this misconception that elected officials only listen to their big donors and special interests raged in our politics. I would argue that this loss of faith is a big reason why Trump sits in office.
Slowly, slowly, step by step, we saw grassroots movements emerge winning back sections of our government. We saw the NY and VA State legislature flip blue. We saw AOC, Rashida Talib, Ilhan Omar, and Ayanna Pressley get elected to Congress. We've been witnessing a quiet (well sometimes not) revolution of people taking back their power. And they did it through the ballot.
Here is my simple principle: elected officials work for us. It is up to us, through our vote, to elect candidates that best represent OUR INTERESTS. Not moneyed interest. And in order to ensure such candidates get elected, WE NEED TO CAMPAIGN FOR THEM.
I've said this before, but let me reiterate: 2020 is the most critical election of our time. This election will be spoken about in the history books. It is a crucial cycle because every level of government is up for re-election. Your U.S. Senator, Congressman, State Legislature, County officials, school boards. It is unprecedented how many seats are up for election.
This election cycle, you are not just casting a vote for President, you are casting a vote to fundamentally alter every level of government that represents you.
If you are like me and cannot stand idly by while our democracy is at stake, then I've created a database of critical elections in 12 swing states that need volunteers. This strategy was put together by Swing Left, a grassroots organization that emerged after Trump's election, using data to identify races that can be flipped. They've done the work to identify who needs our support. I went ahead and did the work to create a database on how to help these campaigns.
Introducing my Win Back Our Country Rolodex. This Rolodex is something I created for myself to help organize my phone-banking efforts during the quarantine. I phone-banked for Jamaal Bowman, Zohran Mamdani, and other progressives in primaries against the establishment. Once primary season was over, I shifted to general election mode.
Here it is in all its glory: https://bit.ly/2YC5ZjI
I will be updating it throughout this cycle with also Biden-Harris phone banks information, as well as who I am phone-banking for every week. My routine is to pick a different superstate a week and phone-bank for one race on each level. Also, every week I phone bank for my local races in Long Island. I also do text-banks, which I love because I can multi-task for that. As someone who has worked in local elections and knows the struggles of recruiting volunteers, I try to do my part for all these local races that are always short on support.
I hope this Rolodex helps you get organized and empowered to start campaigning for these important races. I promise you, it helps you sleep better at night because you did your part in this war.
So together, let's win back our country.