Educators. Students. Community members. Much more unites us than divides us, particularly knowing we all wear multiple hats. Building relationships. Thinking BIG.
Challenging and supporting one another. Developing engaged, empathetic citizens. Please join me in pondering how best to nurture these common ground connections.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Why My Daughter Marched...A Guest Post

The following was written by my youngest daughter. She gave me permission to publish her work as a guest post. I'm certain her words resonate with so many of us, and I couldn't pass up this opportunity. So thank you, Kira. Well done. I'm so very proud of you.

"Why I Marched" ~By Kira Bolos
In this photo my mom and I climbed up a fountain and were looking out at hundreds of thousands of marchers; the crowd extended literally as far as the eye could see. It was impossible not to get choked up, to not be moved by that sight. Everyone was kind, everyone was full of love, and everyone was fighting to protect one another. It was the largest sign of unity I have ever seen and likely will ever see, and the most beautiful part was that this is just the beginning of a fight we will not lose. This incredible experience and all the amazing women I met this weekend inspired me to share #WhyIMarch.
As a college student, I see and experience what happens to the women on my campus. We go to these parties and we keep one eye out for those men staring at us. We keep our drinks in our hands at all times because putting it down means we are a target. We go to bars where men touch our backs and grab our hips, and we don’t get a choice. We walk five minutes off campus and are cat called if we are alone. We walk home at night clutching our pepper spray, the whole time the “1 in 5” statistic ringing in our ears, permanently burned in our brains. It is not something we can escape. And maybe more terrifying than all of this, these instances where we are most uncomfortable are not even when we are most vulnerable. We are most vulnerable around the men we know and even trust. These women are scared, I am scared. And I am so tired of holding my breath and making myself small when an unknown man approaches me. Of having a slight alarm in my head whenever I start to have a close relationship with a male, because this is who I am taught to be afraid of. Most of all, I am tired of feeling LUCKY that I have not been assaulted—because it is absolutely unacceptable that this isn’t the norm.
This is why I march. But that is not all; the reasons are infinite. I not only march for my fellow college women, but for women of every shape, size, and color. I march for women all over the country who have the same statistic ringing in their ears. I march for the victims of domestic violence (which 1 in 4 women will experience in their lifetime). For the young girls who do not know they are allowed to say no, for the ones who were told not to be raped when no one told their attackers not to rape them. I march for 12-year-old me who was cat called for the first time. I march for the women who were born biologically a male and are now trying to find their place among our community. I march for the women of the LGBTQIA+ community. I march for the black women who are the most educated group in the country but yet are still among the most underrepresented, undervalued, and underpaid. I march for all the little girls across the world who do not have access to education. For women in other countries who are even worse off and unfathomably oppressed. I march for my incredible and passionate female friends and family members who are too beautiful and strong to put into words; for the dreamers, the fighters, the women who are unstoppable in a world trying to prevent us from soaring. I march because the patriarchy hurts us all. Because women’s rights are human rights. Because we will only be free when we are equal. We are the ones who will make America great. Girls, stay nasty ;)

Why I Marched: One Woman's Perspective

I had one of the most incredible experiences of my life this past weekend. I attended the Women's March on Washington, 2017. Sisterhood. Solidarity. Strength. With allies walking arm in arm. We were navigating in a non-male-created airspace. (Sigh!) This, along with knowing the sheer numbers of global marchers, made it an unprecedented historical event. And I felt empowered, connected, cared-for, valued, loved.

I've participated in multiple election cycles in my lifetime. I am not a member of any particular party; I vote on specific issues. I get excited about some winners and disappointed in others. In the end, I typically have mixed emotions for everyone who holds office. :) Tough to please, obviously!

This time around? This is different. We're all swinging without a net here. Every last one of us is experiencing something atypical post election.

And I am concerned (putting it mildly). Sexist, Islamophobic, racist, homophobic, ableist language has become normalized. I've never felt such tangible hatred in the air. Word choice matters! It clearly communicates an individual's beliefs. I understand how powerful my words are; others are affected by what I say.

Women's March on Washington w/ my daughter.
So why did I march?

I marched because, as a young girl, I was taught to:
  • fight for the underdog
  • walk in someone else's shoes
  • pay it forward 
  • keep an open heart and an open mind
  • love thy neighbor
  • fight for what's right 
  • do unto others
As a grown-up with experience, these lessons hold true in the following ways. I marched because I am a woman, and women are still being oppressed. I refuse to be objectified, belittled or silenced any longer. (Just today, I was greeted by a male colleague and was immediately given the top to bottom once over; he didn't think I noticed. I did. I do. Stop it.) I marched because, as a woman, I refuse to allow flippant dialogue about sexual assault to go unchecked. SEXUAL ASSAULT IS NOT A JOKE; IT IS A CRIME! A CRIME!! I marched because men can wear anything they like—as much or as little clothing as they choose—be surrounded by women and still feel safe; the opposite must also hold true. I marched because I have daughters, and I want them to know they deserve better. They will know that when I say "I have your back," it will always be met with love AND action. I marched because, as a woman, I know we are all gifted, beautiful individuals. I do not speak for all women, but I will unconditionally, unforgivingly, unrelentingly support, defend and fight for them as long as I live.

I also marched for my fellow brothers and sisters who are now experiencing even further oppression than they already tragically have to deal with on a daily basis. I marched for healthcare and reproductive rights, for racial justice, for equality, for protection against gender-based violence, for LGBTQIA, for religious freedom, for immigration rights. And I will continue to do what is necessary until such time that all are treated and protected equally and equitably under the law. We are a nation of immigrants, of diverse ethnic backgrounds, religious affiliations, gender identities, sexual orientations, etc. We always have been.

When the product of an election can even entertain the promise of exclusion, dehumanization, and further oppression, it is imperative that I rise up. That We Rise Up.

And it is incredibly inspiring knowing I'm not alone. Marches in over 60 countries in over 600 cities took place around the world. In Washington, I felt safe. In fact, I have never felt this safe in my entire life other than in my parents' or siblings' arms. That's my truth. And that says something.

My heart is not only warmed knowing that we have a sense of who we are as a nation again, but that other countries got to see it, as well. We showed up. Determined, confident and committed. Peacefully sharing our discontent and anger. And the world bore witness. Tomorrow, I'm ready for Day 2.