Sometimes I have too many words.
I’m a verbal processor.
For many years, I took it to journaling and I’d fill pages and pages in no time. I had words. And then came the years of life in which my journaling slowed down, exhaustion was Queen and I was making it by day by day. Washing bottles, answering emails, putting out fires and at the end of the day I had no words.
I find myself in this space again. No more bottles or diapers, for me. But, my exhaustion from the continual onslaught of violence and hate crimes has taken me under. My grief is high and my anxiety a constant buzz.
So, the same woman typing these words, has no words.
And yet, this is the time and space that we must engage with our words. We can’t allow silence to act as a stamp of approval to the hate around us.
At the same time, we can barely scrawl out some words in an email to our elected officials. Tears and a whole lotta anger follow and next thing you know, we’re getting nasty.
Every hurtful word comes out of us and we’re questioning someone’s intelligence, their commitment and their humanity. We begin to accuse, share our hurts and pains.
We’re pulling words out that we know are unkind, unnecessary and unhelpful.
I’ve typed these words too.
And then, I never sent that email and it went straight to the draft folder.
To be honest with you, we need to stop putting these thoughts into emails. While there is a time and a space for this, most of us are finding ourselves choked out.
We’ve wrapped our hurts and pains into these emails that take us 3 days to write & that we never send.
It’s not that our emotions aren’t valid, but when we go into a straight monologue we lose our reader.
But, the email or the phone call is important to make. So let’s make it easier.
Here’s the 4 simple sentences you need to include when contacting an elected official or decision maker*:
*school board, teacher, pastor etc
1.Summarize the issue you want to address.
This can be as basic as, “The murder of name) on (date) in (location).” or “The email sent by (name) on (date) regarding (subject). This gives the reader context for what you’re about to share. Think of yourself as a reporter. Write the facts.
2.Clearly state the desired outcome.
People can’t guess at what we want, so we need to be clear about our desired outcome. It can look like “The arrest of (name)” or “A written apology from (name).” Be as specific as you can. If you just say, you want an apology, then you might get one but maybe not from the person you feel owes the apology. If you want an apology for a specific person then say that.
3. Address the systemic injustice you see present.
This is so important and this is often the sentence that we forgot to include, but one that will give the reader the most information. It can be as simple as “The issue at hand is racism and not gun violence.” or “I see this being an issue of fear and not about bathrooms.”
Here’s why this is so important. Say, your desired outcome is not possible. When you address the root issue then the person you’re contacting has the opportunity to find a resolution/outcome that addresses the core issue. Ya’ll. We’re not always going to get what we want, so we need to give them all the information upfront.
4.Sign it with your Name, your contact information and your location/connection
You always want to leave your name and contact information. This allows decision makers to reach out in the event that they would like to dialogue. But chances are, a prosecutor or elected official isn't going to call you on the phone.
Lastly, include your location/connection, “Parent of (name) in (name)’s class.” or “Resident of Greenville County.” This allows the decision maker to weigh your words. Now y'all no one wants to believe this, but people have been doing this as a power move for generations and it’s time we do the same.
Elicia, owner of Truth & Gold.
Rich folx or donors do this when they call to get basketball tickets or to get land approval. So, flex your power & credentials even if it doesn’t feel like a ton.
While it downright makes me sad that we live in a world in which we need to write these emails, I hope this gives you words when you don’t have words and gets you unstuck when you just want to say “You idiot!”
Oh and, one more thing.
Can I implore you, and me, to take this to our journals instead? Can we take this to our conversations with trusted friends? Can we go to therapy and talk about this?
Comment below if this helps, but more importantly go use it this week & let us know!