I Marched So My Granddaughters Don’t Have To

I grew up in an era that discouraged young women from believing they could do anything. A boss once told me that even though I was doing a great job, I wouldn’t get a very big raise. He said he knew my husband had just gotten a big promotion, and they needed to save the bigger raises for the men who were heads of households. We’ve come a long way, but women still make only 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. I’ve been an independent voter and have voted for both Republicans and Democrats. But I fear the new administration does not respect women (remember the Bill Bush tape). I have two young granddaughters. I don’t want them to have to march for equal rights. That’s one reason I marched. I hope the elected officials who represent me will have the guts to stand up for women and others who are marginalized.

My granddaughters and my grandson are the children of an immigrant. My son-in-law (as a child) and his family fled Nicaragua to escape the communist reign of the Sandinistas. They are model citizens of the United States now. My son-in-law is a science teacher. One of his sisters is a translator for the FBI. Like Ronald Reagan, they believed that the Statue of Liberty really meant the U.S. would be a refuge for people like themselves. Last night, the president signed an executive order that puts a huge dent in that belief.

That’s why I marched. And that’s why I weep.

Not for Me But for My Friends.

I endured a grueling bus trip to be in DC on Saturday. I traveled from Iowa with friends. Not for me but for my friends.

I March for my black women friends who are worried that their husbands and sons will be killed in a traffic stop.

I marched for my immigrant friends so they would feel safe in the country they’ve adopted because their own country was not a healthy place to live.

I Marched for my Muslim friends, who deserve the right to choose their religion in a country taken from Native Americans by people escaping religious persecution.

I marched for my Great grandmother who lost her farm when her husband died, she had to sell grain in the name of her 5 year old son. For my great aunt who shared the story of her mother getting to vote. These stories of string women make up my family, may they watch over me and be proud.

For inequality in the workplace and everyday sexism we are so used to we barely notice. For a salary correction that awards equal work for equal pay.

Women are as capable of making decisions as men. Stop legislating our bodies. You cannot stop abortion, you can stop safe abortion. The Hyde amendment has kept your federal funds safe since 1976 when I was 10. Stop wasting your legislative efforts in non issues and spend time doing good.

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?

We Carved Out a Space for Women to Have Value

I marched for paid family leave.  How about instead of constantly proposing bills to make it harder for women to have an abortion we propose bills that make it financially easier for a mother that chose life to bond with her newborn baby?  I sometimes wonder if politicians are even aware that most moms today do work, this isn’t the 1950s.  I marched for paid family leave because I can’t believe this is 2017 and we don’t have it and when I bring it up at work people look at me like I’m nuts.  “Oh, that would take an act of Congress.”  Well then let’s get moving on it!  What are we waiting for?

 I marched to speak out against sexism and racism so that they don’t slowly become socially acceptable.  I marched in support of women who have been sexually abused and to put a stop to rape culture.

 I marched because I believe climate change is real and want to give my children a planet that’s still habitable.

 I marched because one of my best friends is Muslim and worries that she could be sent to an internment camp just like the Japanese were.

 Most of all, I marched for equality.  Not just equality for women but equality for all people that have also been made to feel like they were second class – poor people; people of color; people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender; people with disabilities; people of all different religions or without religion.  The Women’s March loves all and accepts all and I felt love and equality on that beautiful January day like I’ve never felt before.  For once the world was ours, we could complain, we could protest, we could wave rainbow flags down the street in Loup City, we could shout from Alliance to Omaha that we deserve and demand more than the low standards that the world is willing to offer us.   We carved out a space for women to have value and for everyone to be equal.  Equality hurts no one – and that is why I marched.

All Three of Us from Diverse Backgrounds, Working Hard to Contribute to Our Local Community

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.

For all the strong, wise women with an undefeatable spirit that came before me

I didn’t march because of a family obligation but I have often thought about why I would have. Many years ago I sat in a car, traveling across Nebraska with my aunt. Conversation had revolved around varied subjects but now settled on politics. She asked me what I thought about some current issue. I shrugged. I had grown up in a small town in the Black Hills of South Dakota. My mother was Democrat, my father was Republican. I can, maybe, remember one isolated instance of hearing them discuss politics. When I turned 18, I registered as a Democrat. I voted in every Presidential election….but I paid very little attention to politics. It wasn’t cool, it wasn’t comfortable, it took too much energy to try to understand it all.

In light of my conversation with my aunt, let me tell you something about the women of family. I come from a long line of wise, strong women with an undefeatable spirit. They crossed the ocean to a new, unfamiliar land filled with hope and, I would imagine, a little trepidation; but they didn’t let that stop them. They crossed the plains and forded rivers in covered wagons with children in tow filled with hope and a little trepidation; but they didn’t let that stop them. They lived in dugouts, built homes of raw timber, planted crops, raised livestock while raising a family with hope and a little trepidation; but they didn’t let that stop them. They raised families, took care of finances, found work outside of the home or took in washing while their husbands, brothers, sons fought in WWI, WWII, and Vietnam. They raised families while attending colleges and universities to become teachers, journalists, nurses, entrepreneurs with hope and a little trepidation; but they didn’t let that stop them.

So, when my aunt gently rebuked me for not being appraised of current political issues I didn’t take it lightly. She reminded me that it is my obligation as a citizen to pay attention because politics, in many ways, shape our lives. It is also my obligation to pay attention because of all the women who came before me that weren’t allowed to enjoy the same privileges that I enjoy.

If I would have marched, I would have marched for all those strong, wise women with an undefeatable spirit that took on life and an ever-changing society with hope and a little bit of trepidation that didn’t slow them down. I would have marched for women who came long before me and wagered everything for my privilege to vote. I would have marched for the women who fought for my right to choose when I start a family. I would have marched for the people who have fought for my friends and family in the LGBTQ community to openly love who and how they love. I would have marched for clean air, fresh water, and National Parks that give us respite and remind us how we are connected to Mother Earth. I would have marched for the marginalized whose voices can’t be heard. I would have marched for equal pay for equal work, for affordable health care for all, for immigrants, for refugees, for Muslims, for my black brothers and sisters who “can’t breathe” and are raised knowing that at some point in their lives they will face racism in some form. I can’t possibly list everything. The gist is this….we have come so far. We have come so far but we still have so far to go. We have come so very far and we must NOT allow a step back.

We are facing something entirely new an unprecedented in our country. With all of the wise, strong women with an undefeatable spirit from my past, my present, and my future standing with me I plan to move forward with hope, and a little bit of trepidation. But I don’t plan on letting that stop me.

I marched to disapprove Mr. Trump

My wife and I marched in Loup City, Nebraska, because we do not trust Mr. Trump when it comes to protecting women’s rights, immigrants’ rights, indeed any of the rights American citizens currently enjoy.

I consider Mr. Trump a dangerous demagogue who cares only about his own good fortune. His administration’s eerie contempt for the truth, in even the most trivial of matters, has destroyed whatever credibility they ever had, as far as I’m concerned.

I have marched in support of candidates before–but this is the first time I felt compelled to march in disapproval of a political figure. I have seen nothing to indicate that either Mr. Trump or his advisors will get their act together.