For All Those Who are Marginalized.

My children, grandchildren, and two sisters from Kearney and Guide Rock marched alongside me.  I marched because I want the ACA to continue as a law.  Several years ago, I chose to further my education and pursue my degree in the nursing field. As with most farming households, our health insurance was through my work. We would lose it if I worked part-time, so we shopped around for private health insurance. We found that our options were extremely limited. Because my husband had a pre-existing condition of hypertension, our monthly insurance payment would be even higher than the $900 quotes per month we were receiving. Plus it was explained to us, the insurance would not cover any illness that can even remotely be associated with high blood pressure. A stroke or heart attack would not be covered, even though we would be paying top dollar for insurance $1,200. Basically the insurance companies were cherry-picking their clients. Even the Nebraska health insurance program promoted by the governor was over $1,000 a month AND had the pre-existing Health Clause that would not cover hypertension or its related illnesses. Our one saving grace was the children’s health insurance plan (the plan Hillary Clinton was instrumental in passing). Our three children were put on this plan. We took a chance and went forward with my education, all the while worrying about injuries or health problems that would have changed our lives financially and mentally forever. That concern almost kept me from advancing in my field!

Since 2003 I have been a registered nurse. I have seen countless people whose lives have been touched by illness, many that did not have health insurance. Medical debt is the number one cause of bankruptcy. This, and my own experience drove me to become an application counselor for the ACA. I’ve signed up dozens of people to this insurance market. Many have told me it’s the first time they have had health insurance!

This program works. The misinformation about it, spread by inflammatory rhetoric, has been breathtaking!

Insurance companies and their CEOs aren’t going broke. And working people have access to Affordable Health Care through the ACA. This is only ONE reason out of MANY why I march, and my family and I will continue to march.

I marched for my granddaughters. I marched to feel like I could do something. I marched for human rights too. I marched for all those who are made to feel that they are less.

I Have More Reasons Than I Can Express.

On Saturday, January 21, 2017, I jumped in my car and drove to Rapid City, South Dakota, to be a part of the Women’s March. This was important to me for more reasons than I can express, but I will try to touch on some of them here.

I marched for my one-year-old daughter. May she grow up in an America that wants to see women succeed. A society that has affordable healthcare, birth control, reproductive rights, paid maternity leave, and equal pay for women. A country that recognizes that people who are LGBTQ+ are equal under the rights provided us by our constitution. All are created equal.

I marched for my three-year-old son. May he get to be a part of that same country. May he be an ally for women and may he, in turn, benefit from that.

May both of my children be caring, empathetic individuals who see injustice in the world and know how to show love for all people, regardless of their background.

I marched for my students. I want them to know that everything I have taught them in class is true. My students are dumbfounded when we discuss slavery. They ask why. They are confused when we talk about the suffragist movement and women fighting for the right to vote. They don’t get it when we discuss the Civil Rights era, and see photographs of people using different water fountains, bathrooms, restaurants, and swimming pools. It doesn’t make any sense to them, because they know the world is better than that. They know that Malala Yousefzai was shot in Pakistan trying to fight for rights of girls to get an education. This also makes no sense to them. Why are there places in the world where girls don’t have the right to an education? I assure them it makes no sense to me either. A couple years ago while watching the news with one of my classes, the anchor started to talk about the pay gap between men and women who were doing the same job. One of my students, a girl, came running up to me to repeat the statistic. She was baffled and I knew I had no good answer to provide her. I teach them they are equal and they can do anything they want to do, but when they hear that may not be true, they simply cannot understand.

Since I started teaching in 2010, I have had a sign on my door saying “Everyone is welcome here, everyone belongs.” I believe this to be true, and this is why I marched.

Our country has grown to be better because of the people who stood up. People who peacefully marched. That is what happened on the day of the Women’s March. Over five million women and men around the world, in cities large, small, and tiny, peacefully came together to march for equality. We want to live in a world where people are treated equally. This is why I marched.

What’s happening is not acceptable.

I was unable to march due to a prior commitment. I wish I had been able to. There were so many reasons to march. Affordable health care, LBGT rights, Rape culture, the list goes on. We have an administration in place that devalues women on a level beyond comprehension. We MUST say this is not acceptable and we will fight. 

Why Wouldn’t I March? Why Didn’t You?

I grew up in a small town in central Nebraska, went out of state to college, work, and grad school, and returned to rejoin my family. Seven years ago, I started my own family here. I’m now an educator, a mom, a researcher, a wife, a small business owner, a student. I’m comfortable speaking up and speaking out. But I wasn’t sure I would march. I’m 38 years old, and I, like most of the others in this collection, had never engaged like that before. I am a lot of different things, but was I an activist, a protester?

 Eventually, I realized… why wouldn’t I march?

Why wouldn’t I march– if I believe that whether you’re LGBTQ, Muslim, refugee, black, immigrant, differently-abled, or female, you don’t deserve to be afraid. You don’t deserve to be treated, in the eyes of the law, the characters of Twitter, or the dismissive or derisive comments of lawmakers, as anything less than equal, whole, supported, worthy, respected, valued Humans.

Why wouldn’t I march– if I love this country, in a way I’m frankly only now discovering, as I watch the fundamental principles for which it stands being threatened and twisted through the words, actions, behavior or inaction of many who are supposed to represent us. Through a “travel ban”; through threats to the free press, the judiciary, the environment, funding for climate change and gun control research, affordable health care, public education and more; through support of waterboarding; through party-line votes and support for an unfit Secretary of Education, an unfit head of the EPA, an unfit Attorney General, to name a few.

Why wouldn’t I march– if I reject the painful, intolerant, objectifying words and regressive, intolerant, fundamentally un-American actions of President Trump, and anyone who condones or defends them.

Why wouldn’t I march– if I believe that physical and sexual assault isn’t funny, and comments about women being not being attractive enough to be assaulted make my stomach turn, make me feel inhuman and demoralized and outraged and unsafe and confused and scared for my 7-year-old daughter. If many lawmakers don’t seem to be outraged with me. If I honor the many strong survivors I worked with at domestic violence shelters, and their beautiful scarred strong children.

Why wouldn’t I march– if I believe that a woman’s health includes her mental, emotional, economic, and physical well-being. That she deserves the right and the respect to make her own intelligent choices about it, rather than be denied options by largely white male lawmakers who have no idea what it’s like to be her. That those who do become mothers, their co-parents, and their new babies, deserve paid parental leave from the richest country in the world.

We can do better. We must do better. We are better.

As my pastor used to preach, we’re called to “remove the chains of injustice, let those who are oppressed go free, share bread with those who are hungry, and shelter homeless poor people” (Isaiah 58:6-12).  Nebraskans will continue answer that call. We will monitor and advocate and vote and fight and use our “shrill” voices to push the city, the state, the country to deliver liberty and justice for all.

Will you?

I marched because, if we are our sister’s and brother’s keepers, I didn’t know where else I could be.

Why wouldn’t I march?

Why didn’t you?

I Marched Because I Want Our Voices to Be Heard!

I marched because I learned the importance of being an advocate in 1976 when I started my first job as a counselor at Planned Parenthood of Lincoln.  I saw the need for women to have affordable health care, birth control counseling, and pregnancy option counseling without being judged.  I marched because I fear that funding for Planned Parenthood will continue to be reduced and women will not have an option for free or affordable health care, that a woman’s rights to control reproduction, and that their right to have a safe and legal abortion will all be taken away.

In 1986, I started working as an Independent Living Advisor at the League of Human Dignity.  This involved advocating for the rights of students with disabilities to see that schools were applying the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  So many individuals with disabilities are still facing huge barriers to live independent lives without being judged by society based on the fact that they have a disability.  I am a woman with a disability and felt like my voice needed to be heard at the Women’s March.

I marched because the LGBTQ community faces barriers in regulations of employment discrimination, bias in hiring, promotion, job assignment, termination, and compensation, as well as harassment on the basis of one’s sexual orientation.  I marched because I fear their rights with marriage equality will be stripped.

I marched to fight for the rights of woman to receive equal pay.   Women still are not receiving equal pay for equal work, let alone equal pay for work of equal value. This disparity not only affects women’s spending power, it penalizes their retirement security by creating gaps in Social Security and pensions.

I marched because of race discrimination.  Martin Luther King is one of my heroes and I marched for him.  I marched for Margaret Sanger, Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony and every person who has fought for the rights of all the causes that I believe in.

I marched because I want our voices to be heard!

My Voice is Important. I Will Not Quietly Allow Our Rights to be Stripped Away.

I marched because ALL women’s rights are important. Trump plans to overturn the Affordable Care Act which threatens Planned Parenthood, availability to birth control, safe abortions, and inclusive sex education. I marched because I wanted white women to see that ALL women matter, not just them–and also to help them realize that Trump and his appointees don’t care about them. My voice is important and I will NOT quietly allow my rights to be stripped away, nor will I stand by while other people’s rights are being stripped away–especially not by an angry, fearful man.