My name is Josh Burch and I am an urban dad who is having trouble stomaching the fact that my daughter in 16 years on Election Day will realize she’s not an equal citizen of the United States of America.
Just over a year and a half ago, when the President and the Congress cut a budget deal which bargained away the reproductive rights of women in the District something in me changed. It was at that point that I realized that I could no longer be a couch sitting supporter of DC Statehood, no longer could I just attend the occasional rally and believe that was enough, no longer could I sit on the sidelines and expect things to change. I was born and raised here and like every single generation of Washingtonians before me when I turned 18 I knew that I was an unequal citizen in the United States of America. The budget deal in-and-of itself was not my breaking point. Months earlier I had become a father and had a whole new wonderful lovable weight of responsibility on me. Fatherhood helped me realize that I could no longer sit on the sidelines and live in a city that I love and accept that one day my daughter too would realize that upon turning 18 she too would be an unequal citizen.
Over the last year and a half I’ve put in a lot of long hours after work, taking time off from work, and sadly time away from my wonderful wife and daughter to push for DC Statehood, to push so that our family will be on equal footing with families just a half mile from where we live on the other side of Eastern Ave. NE. I get sick thinking that because we love this city, quirks, corruption and all, because it’s our home, that one day my daughter will go through the farce of voting as a resident of the District of Columbia: limited control over our local budget and laws and no votes in either House of Congress.
As President Obama and Governor Romney debate on TV I think about the laws that they propose and wonder when will we as District citizens, as urban moms and dads, stand up and say we deserve an equal voice in the US Capitol, a building which we live in the shadows of. As they talk about health care, school loans, mortgage deductions, and yes, war and peace, I have to wonder when are we going to stand up and say we deserve full and equal representation in the House and Senate to participate in these important policy debates.
I am an urban dad. I love my daughter more than anything. My wife and I talk about where we’ll send her to school, whether we should use cloth diapers or disposables, we wonder what she’ll be for Halloween, we get up in the middle of the night to hush her back to sleep, but for me there are other responsibilities. I believe in democracy, I believe in the Constitution, but both are imperfect as long as 638,000 citizens are disenfranchised. I see it as one of my responsibilities as parent to help form ‘a more perfect union’ and work to achieve statehood so that we are all on equal footing with our federal tax paying brothers and sisters in the 50 states.
Over the last year I’ve spent lots of time talking about statehood in countless community meetings, in dozens of offices on the Hill, and with pretty much anyone who will listen but it’s not enough. We need more people. We need urban moms, dads, and others to join this effort for ourselves and our children. Imagine if we had a thousand families with strollers roaming the halls of Congress demanding DC Statehood. Imagine if on Father’s Day a thousand District fathers holding pictures of our children got arrested outside of the Capitol simply because we want equality for ourselves and our children.
Despite my best efforts the process of recruiting urban moms and dads to this cause has been extremely difficult. Great people have joined our group, Neighbors United for DC Statehood, but most either don’t have children or their children have moved out of the house and yet it’s those of us with children still at home that have so much at stake. We need to expand the number of supporters and workers for the DC Statehood cause and I’m eager to engage urban moms and dads because we have so much on the line. I’m learning as a go along, I make lots of mistakes and from time to time organize meetings that only one or two people show up at but I’m persistent and eager to do better.
I need to learn from you, I want to know what you think about DC Statehood. Why are you or are you not involved in the push for DC Statehood? What constraints keep you from joining the movement? What could we do to meet your busy schedule to help get you involved in the movement? What can we do to make this cause accessible to you and your family?
I am an urban dad and I need your help. Please share your thoughts with me so I can learn from you and so maybe we all can work on this effort together: firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow on Twitter: @JBurchDC