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 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.

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