Emily Pripas is currently a non-profit professional in the Twin Cities, after her three years of service as AmeriCorps VISTA. In her spare time, Emily is a member of the deep canvass leadership team at JCA, a singer, and an anti-violence advocate. She loves musical theater, podcasts, and cats.
For most of my life, I’ve not thought of myself as a brave person. Instead, I would say I am anxious, careful, and most of all, that I want people to like me.
I’m 26 now, still young, but trying to become a better version of myself, a braver version of myself. I’m trying and doing new things, like taking musical theater classes. I also began working with JCA, began deep canvassing, and began to share my experiences as both a canvasser and a trainer for deep canvassing.
What I love about deep canvassing is that it is about me becoming the best version of myself and creating a space where others can do the same. I think about how I can support this for everyone I work with, from the other trainers to the canvassers to the people I talk with on the doors.
I struggle with anxiety, and struggle with it as a part of myself. Recently, I’ve been learning about Mussar, a Jewish spiritual and ethical practice. One of the soul traits I’ve talked about in Mussar is savlanut, or patience. In this trait, I focus on learning to bear and tolerate my own discomfort. I focus on what I can change in any situation.
Knocking on the door of someone I do not know to talk about race has been, honestly, terrifying for me. I’m worried that I will upset or offend someone or do something wrong. These are all informed by whiteness, white culture, and the whiteness in my own anxiety. Doing this work is a way for me to practice and continue to practice going beyond that anxiety and showing myself fully to the people in the world.
The people I talk to are often afraid or indignant. They do not want to be called racist because they know that is bad and it could make them a bad person. They will make any leap to avoid that.
Deep canvassing is a practice of sowing seeds, and here is mine for the day. Being a better person is about first knowing that you can move past the mistakes you make. I’m still learning that, still working on knowing that I can be myself and that I do not need others to like me to make me a good person.