One of my Trump-supporting friends posted a negative statement about the marches yesterday. He asked me why I marched. It’s a good question.
I started marching when we almost lost our reproductive rights in the early 90’s, and I keep marching. I march because I didn’t know I had something to say in an academic class until I went to a woman’s college and there was no one there to talk over me. My ideas suddenly mattered. I had never felt smart before. My thoughts had space to grow. I march because I’ve been a woman leading a multi-million dollar construction business in central Indiana for 20 years, and I shouldn’t have had to build a personal reputation before I got service at a contractor sales desk where only “real” contractors get their orders filled. I march because I am tired of having to over-perform to get a pay increase or space on the agenda to share my expertise. I march because I can’t even remember the first time a man touched me inappropriately, and could not even enumerate the times it has happened. I march because at some point I just figured that must be what girls were for— male pleasure. I march because my strong, smart girl gets complimented on her looks more than on her character, as if her hard-won confidence is nothing compared to her blond locks.
I took my daughter with me yesterday to show her what a sea of determined women feels like. I took my 10 year old with her own ideas about the world, not to brainwash her politically, but to show her what unity feels like. I took her because I spent the summer watching her learn to advocate for herself from her hospital bed. I took her to the march because she is the strongest soul I know, yet she still gets railroaded by men and boys. I took her because I want her to remember what her voice sounds like, even when it shakes. I took her because I want her to see truth is frequently unpopular, but that doesn’t mean it should not be spoken. Loudly.
We have a president who believes ridiculing humans for the color of their skin, their faith, their physical disabilities and their nationalities is not only ok, it is an appropriate way to gain power. I have spent my life finding ways to connect people who don’t look like one another, who have no basis for understanding one another except to find a thread of humanity in a smile or a shared piece of work. Now the leader of our country, in just a few short months has done more to dismantle our progress than any other single leader in history. His supporters cry that he deserves respect, he deserves the honor of the seat he occupies. I disagree. He deserves to listen to the people— starting perhaps with those who elected him: the hardworking poor who want to be heard, who want an opportunity to improve their lives. When he creates a system to bridge the class gap, he will win my respect. When he seeks to make amends for the deplorable way he has spoken about Mexicans and Muslims, then he will earn my ear in a conversation.
I have heard many criticisms of the marches: they were not organized by oppressed people, if you are going to get together to make change then actually DO something, why are you just protesting a president? The list goes on… What I know is this: these problems are complex. They are not single-issue. The race issue is now inseparable from the class issue. The underemployment of rural white americans is inseparable with the rise of opiate drug use. The Christian anglo-centric rhetoric giving rise to the Alt Right is inseparable from the departure of moderate political stances which have given rise to extreme partisanism.
What the marches got right is this: they gave us an opportunity to share our humanity. Together. It didn’t matter what color your skin was, if you were gay or straight, if you came in hijab or a pussy hat, if you arrived on foot or in a wheelchair. Yesterday was a day to unite around what we agree on. We spent a day in the streets with our sisters and brothers speaking our truths. We encouraged one another, spoke to strangers, mingled with people we never would have met before. Our work moving forward is to make something out of that connection. To find or become leaders who can affect change in the best possible ways, to listen to those who frequently aren’t heard and provide forums where in safety we can help them innovate. That, my friends, is why I marched. Why did you? Why didn’t you?
Are you ready to work? We are needed. We are called. Let’s find our unity to work on the hard issues again. Here is a place to start: https://www.womensmarch.com/100/ please feel free to share others here or on our Facebook page.