I Marched Because Washington Doesn’t Represent Me.

For me the march was about my children.  I have 21-year-old twins, a daughter and son.  They are both at UNL.  My daughter is an Ag Ed major and my son is an El Ed major. My husband and I farm and have outside jobs in the ag field.  We believe that none of you have our best interest at heart.  Betsey DeVos is the absolute WORST thing for both students and teachers in public education, yet you all support her.  President Trump is signing EO’s so fast his head is spinning.  NAFTA and TPP were GOOD for Nebraska Ag, but none of our state leaders had the spine to fight for them.  At the same time, our state is short of money.  I march because I want my daughter and son to be protected by Title IX.  You don’t.  I march because I believe none of you have MY family’s best interests at heart.  I march because I believe in humanity and that there isn’t a boogie man behind every face.  I march for the lovely Iranian grad student and his wife and child who live across the hall from my children.  They are GOOD people and they worked HARD to get here.  I march because you are all so wrong in how you represent me.

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.

For Those Who Don’t Have the Same Privileges and Opportunities That I Do

For my English Language Learner (ELL) students and my friends’ spouses who weren’t born in America. They should know they are welcome here and we love them.

For my DREAMer friends who are well-educated, hard-working people, not the rapists and murders the president makes them out to be.

For my LBTQ+ friends and family, who finally received the right to marry but could see their rights taken away or limited.

For victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, because you matter. It’s not a joke no matter what the president says or tweets.

For my nephew on the autism spectrum and all those with developmental or physical disabilities – no one should make you feel less than you are, especially the president.

For access to women’s preventive screenings, because at 25 I had a high risk of cervical cancer and had to have cervix cells removed to protect my future.

For a choice on when or if I have children. This has allowed me to earn a four-year degree, pay off my student loans, build a career, travel the world, enjoy time with my spouse, save for retirement, buy a house, and volunteer my time and talents in excess.

For access to affordable healthcare. I, and many others, will spend 30 years of our lives managing our reproductive healthcare, so access is crucial.

For all the women (and men) who don’t have the same privileges and opportunities that I do. You matter, I think of you often and I will fight for you.

I Am a Survivor of Sexual Assault

I am a survivor of sexual assault. I am a mother. I am a taxpayer who wants to see my tax dollars go to help my fellow human beings not to line the pockets of the wealthy. I worked for many years in the helping fields where I treated abused women and children. I am sick of the patriarchal bull that perpetuates violence, undervalues the contributions of women and minorities. I am a Catholic who has seen the word bastardized and twisted to support oppressive laws when we should be keeping a firm separation of church and state. I am sick in my heart at the injustice rape victims, abuse victims, and people of color face in our legal system, especially when the perpetrators are white males.

I Marched to Believe we Can Do Better. And I Walked Away Believing We Can.

I marched. For the women and men who marched before me. And for those women and men who could not.

I marched to add greater cracks in the ceiling made of glass. And I marched for the littles who will lead our country one day.

I marched for me and the ones I love. And I marched for those I haven’t met yet.

I marched for those who believe in the resistance. And for those who don’t think they need it.

I marched for the wage gap. And for freedom of speech.

I marched to no longer be a bystander. And to exercise my rights and privileges as an American.

I marched for public schools. And for equality for all.

I marched for hope. And I marched for strength.

I marched to believe we can do better. And I walked away believing we can.

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?