“Miss Carolyn- what are we gonna do? What are the adults gonna do about that Trump? It’s no good, Miss Carolyn.” – Seven-year-old boy.
As a social worker, I’m lucky to spend my days working to help my kids — children in New York City’s foster care system — have better tomorrows. While my job description consists of varying responsibilities, the most important part of it is that I get to dedicate my time to helping kids heal from their pasts, learn to have hope and feel safe.
But following the election, I found it all the more difficult to do so. I watched the results of each state get called and felt, among many other things, that the social service system I work within — and that my kids live within — was about to be jeopardized, if not collapse entirely.
I went from being shocked to upset to angry pretty quickly. And that anger and confusion is what drove me down to the protest in Union Square the night after the election. The crowds there were made up of loud, aggressive, New Yorkers who couldn’t quite understand how what just happened, happened, so I fit right in.
The theme of last weekend’s March, though, was different. I spent days after the election trying to figure out how I was going to help my kids, most who are in elementary school, understand and process how a hateful, cruel, under-qualified racist was rewarded by winning the highest office in our country. This stood in strong contrast to what I continuously tell them: that it is most important to be kind, that it is okay to be exactly who you are, to respect others’ feelings, and that each of them is important and valued.
My coworkers faced similar struggles, as we were presented with questions that had no clear answers, and a future that remains uncertain. For us — social workers, whose job is to protect others — it was indescribably frustrating to feel so helpless.
But it is imperative that we do not let ourselves get paralyzed by feelings of helplessness, anger, or disappointment. And that is why my coworkers, my friends and thousands of other New Yorkers took to the streets last weekend. It wasn’t just a Women’s March, though. Instead, it felt more like the city coming together for something much bigger than any one particular event or person. It took on a life of its own.
To say Midtown was packed would be a gross understatement. The roads were filled with individuals who showed up because they stood for something. Because they wanted to be heard and seen. Because they believe in their rights and the rights of others and wanted to make that known.
Some of the signs around me read: “Liberty & Justice for All,” “You Can’t Be Neutral On a Runaway Train,” “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights,” “Love Trumps Hate. Love is Love is Love,” “NOPE” and “Wake Me Up When It’s 2020.”
While the crowds and protests immediately following Election Day seemed to be driven by outrage and disbelief, last weekend’s March felt peacefully cathartic, and hopefully anticipatory of a new political force. It was an event that offered inspiration, humor, and proof that New York will never go down quietly. It gave everyone who wanted one an outlet to express how they were feeling about the new President and the state of our society.
The Women’s March in New York City was just one example of people, particularly millennials, becoming less apathetic than perhaps they were before, and more ready to commit to ensuring whatever cause they believe in remains safeguarded in the coming years. I went to the March for a lot of reasons, one of which is because when my kids ask me, “Miss Carolyn, what’re the adults gonna do about it?”
I want to be able to tell them that we will not stand idly by while the most vulnerable among us are being threatened. I want to tell them that when it comes to what you believe in, doing something is better than doing nothing. That you need to stay informed and active in the fight for what is right. And I want to tell them that we will continue to work to help them feel safe, to heal, and to never give up. Seeing the turnout at yesterday’s March confirmed that many share these same sentiments.
And after feeling the positive, encouraging atmosphere, and getting to be a part of a demonstration that stood for social justice and standing together, I can say I will tell them all of the above with the same amount of conviction I had before the election, if not more.
New York City’s social workers will continue to stand firmly with those who feel scared, worried, confused. We are committed to ensuring there continues to be better tomorrows. And I’ll also tell them what they already know — that there really is no city greater than New York.
About the Author:
Carolyn Catania holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology (FCRH ’13) and Master of Social Work degree (GSSS ’16), both from Fordham University. She is a licensed social worker (LMSW) in New York State and has been working within New York City’s child welfare system since 2013. Her previous experience includes having been a research assistance at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and at Columbia’s Depression Evaluation Services Clinic. She is currently a Mental Health Therapist at a foster care agency in the Bronx and pursuing her MPH degree at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai. She is an alumni of the Fostering Change for Children Children’s Corps Program (2015), a member of NASW-NYC Chapter, recipient of the Sanctuary Trauma Informed Practice Award (2015) at her agency, and is a Phi Alpha SW Honor Society (2015) member. Carolyn is excited to be presently undergoing training in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and when not at work, looks forward to cheering on the New York Mets in their upcoming season.
Disclaimer: The political views presented in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Not Another Millennial Blog.