Wednesday, November 23, 2016 at 10:31 AM
Here at The Barefoot Alliance, becoming your first woman president wasn't so hard. Mainly it involved letting my friend Matthew know that I was interested in taking on that role after he stepped down. With that done, I spent the first week of November reflecting on various possible goals for The Barefoot Alliance and thinking about where and how to get started with any of these ideas.
Then the 2016 US presidential election happened, and since then, so many things have been about that one way or another. Even not mentioning it at all can be its own kind of statement.
While I was taking in responses to the election as well as getting used to switching back and forth between Barefoot Alliance social media and my personal accounts, I noticed the incredibly wide variety of t-shirt, hat, pantsuit, and profile picture options available for anyone wanting to express an opinion or emotion in this way. Safety pins were cool and then not so cool before I'd had a moment to consider locating one among the junk in my house.
Under these circumstances, a song I hadn't heard in a very long time started playing in my head - "Man in Black" by the immortal man in black himself, Johnny Cash. I love the tone he struck in that song. He's not saying that everyone should always wear black, or that colors are terrible, or that wearing black will fix things. He's just answering the questions about his outfit.
It's my understanding that Johnny Cash first started wearing black mainly because it was convenient and always looked good. But as most longtime barefooters can tell you, when you have a signature look that people ask you about every day, everywhere you go, eventually you can't really separate your fashion choice from your values.
Some barefooters connect their choice to go barefoot with environmental concerns, some with constitutional rights, and some with a general attitude of questioning everything. Then there's the ironic practice of going barefoot to support charities that give shoes to people in need.
Bare feet are comfortable and healthy, and no more of an explanation than that should really be necessary, but at the same time, bare feet are symbolically powerful, and it makes a lot of sense to be barefoot for something.
So I wrote my own lyrics to "Man in Black" to share some of my own more personal reasons for living barefoot. If anyone wants to sing this, send a video. I would love that!
Well, you wonder why my feet are always bare,
Why I am completely lacking in footwear,
And why am I so unconcerned with social norms or cold.
Well there's a reason why I choose to be so bold.
I'm barefoot cause that's how we all were born
Before we learned to see ourselves with scorn.
If we knew the true value of our bodies and our minds
I wonder just how much we wouldn't buy.
I'm barefoot for the child I used to be
Who thought that kids should vote in this free country.
And now when I see children living lives they choose
So many of them are not wearing shoes.
Well I guess in my own city, we're okay
Technology has brought a better way,
But just so we're reminded that around the world we're human
Up front there oughta be a barefoot woman.
I'm barefoot for each person near and far
Who does no harm by being who they are.
And yet the way they're perfect is a way some people fear
and they've heard the words "you're not welcome here."
I am barefoot for black people who have died
I am barefoot for the tears their loved ones cried.
In my white skin and fleece jacket, I walk around secure
I walk barefoot for those who can't be sure.
I'm barefoot for the change I'd like to see
Though at times I'm not so sure what that should be,
But I'm raising my awareness of the ground I stand upon
As a starting point, that surely can't be wrong.
Well, I love to say my feet are free for fun,
So my toes can feel the air and mud and sun,
But I don't forget the reasons I can't separate from pain,
Even as I'm dancing barefoot in the rain.
Article originally appeared on The Barefoot Alliance - Barefoot Activity Advocates (http://www.barefootalliance.org/).
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