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.
I believe ALL people are equal and that is what makes America great.
The current political rhetoric weakens us at home, as well as abroad. It takes people from every creed and color to pull together to solve our problems in a peaceful manner. I believe in an America for all people.
I marched in Washington with two of my best friends from Lincoln High School (Graduation 2001). One is an immigrant from Mexico and the other a refugee from Vietnam. We marched hand in hand, as beautiful representatives of what makes America amazing! All three of us from diverse backgrounds, working hard to contribute to our local community, as educators, business owners, researchers. We marched that day to protect the rights of women and men from diverse backgrounds to feel safe in our community and nation, to protect their right to flourish. To send a message that we reject hateful words, actions, and executive orders. That we stand in solidarity with the most vulnerable and marginalized in our community. We march to ensure that America remains free and open and loving, the unique experiment.
As a woman, as an immigrant, as a Muslim, as a minority, as a citizen, as a mother, I marched because this is not the America that I know and love – the country that embraced me as a seven-year-old, moving to a new home, speaking a new language and living in a new world. It was a beacon of hope where no one was unwanted and unwelcomed. A place that valued the importance of educating all children and providing opportunities for them to advance, no matter where they came from. The America that I know accepted those of different colors, cultures and creed. It protected freedom of choice and expression, and cared about the health and wellbeing of its citizens.
I marched because my beautiful country’s moral compass is being slowly destroyed by the egos of a few who don’t represent Americans as a whole. They don’t care about our health, our education system, our rights, our future and our fragile earth. They are too busy worrying about their own wealth and political standing, choosing their own self-serving agendas over what’s good for the American public. So I marched to stand up for what I believe is right and to support the country that had supported me. To make it a place my children can grow up to make a difference. And I will continue to march and listen and speak and fight until the power is back in the rightful hands of the people.
I march because our democratic republic, with its three branches of government, is intended to function as a check and balance on each institution. I recognize those checks and balances no longer function as they are intended when the politics of party override the good of the nation. I fear a Congress that walks in lock step with a president who ignores the Constitution. Rules appear to only apply if it benefits a party preference. Case in point, the rejection of Marrick Garland for the Supreme Court. In a year’s time, he could not even get a hearing.
I march because Congress is ramming through grossly unqualified candidates for cabinet positions. Just to name a few; Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education and Rick Perry, with a degree in animal husbandry to head the Department of Energy. Goldman Sachs, I believe, has 6 representatives in the Trump regime. How is this draining the swamp? The hypocrisy is overwhelming. We are hurling towards a dictatorship.
I march because I have three relatives that have health insurance because of the ACA. One is disabled. Another is taking care of a wife with Alzheimer’s 24/7 and is in poor health himself. You are taking their health care away from them without an alternative plan in place. I am on Social Security and Medicare and you want to mess with that. If you think the protest marches are large now, just wait till the gray hairs join in. Retiring from an elementary school in a disadvantaged neighborhood, I know charter schools are not the answer. They will be left behind.
I march for an investigation into the failed Yemen raid. Will it be as vigorously investigated as Benghazi? Was Trump really eating his dinner when he authorized the raid and not in the Situation Room? An unconstitutional ban on immigration from 7 Muslim countries does not keep us safe. It is an optic of weakness and fear and has made this nation a continued target of hatred. Trump will continue to isolate himself as he did not go to Harley Davidson because he was afraid of protest. Protests will continue and he will isolate himself in his bedroom tweeting at 3 in the morning because he is a coward. My dad fought in the Battle of the Bulge during World War 11. My husband was a Marine in Viet Nam and suffered from PTSD all his life. In large part, a reason for the failure of our marriage.
I march, I call, I e-mail. Most of my representatives mailboxes are full. I hope they are full because of protest but sometimes I feel they are full because our representatives simply don’t want to talk to us. We, the people, are speaking through our marches and will be speaking in the next election. Our numbers are large and growing. The marches only energize us, we see the millions that share our values but the most important reason I march is to say to the world, “America is not Donald Trump and the lock step Republican Party.”