I marched because I was feeling so depressed and uncertain of what would happen to our country. I was angry that the Republicans allowed a man like Trump to take over their party and now the country. I listened to my daughter talk about the Women’s March. I wanted to be part of the movement. A friend and I talked about Marches close to us but they were still 3 and 4 hours away. We thought we would at least try to get a few people to march around the local courthouse. 20 people showed up and we felt a great sense of unity. We are continuing to meet.
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 marched because I am a woman and a refugee and an American. I marched in support of amazing women I know, strong women that came before me and for our daughters and sons that will inherit the world we are eventually going to leave behind. I also marched because not marching did not seem like an option to me.
But, to be honest, I mostly marched out of fear.
When I was a teenager, the country that I knew and swore my loyalty to, Yugoslavia, fell apart. It was not a slow and painful death, but a quick infection, that cost all the republics, and mostly Bosnia, hundreds of thousands of lives. It started with an idea, that became a rhetoric, that finally turned into action which took its final form as genocide, mostly done to Muslim population. The idea was to make “Serbia Great Again” and many men, women, children and elderly paid the price.
I remember those early days before snipers and heavy artillery surrounded Bosnian cities and villages started to burn. Men with floppy hair on TV yelling into microphones, chanting masses with waving flags, the demagogs and the ideologists and the protests and everyone declaring themselves, publicly or privately, as supporters or as opposition, as this or that nationality. All of these elements were a marking of a serious crisis to me.
The lump in my throat kept growing as we moved through American primaries in 2016, got close to election, elected a president and finally, when the current administration took office in January of this year, the lump in my throat was me suffocating. The rhetoric of the campaign, particularly the parts where certain groups of people were isolated and presented as “bad” (disabled, immigrants from Latin America, women, Muslims – we have all seen the clips and read the quotes), were quite terrifying to me. Was this a deja vu? I understood there is much more detail than this, laws and legislations, senators and representatives, and our own complicated and unique American history. But I could not deny the parallels.
So I marched.
I marched so that my family but, more importantly, my neighbors, don’t have to go through what Bosnian population went through in the nineties.
I marched so it is clear to people around me who I am and what I stand for.
I marched for all the women of the world and struggles that unite us.
I marched to stand with my sisters and brothers against words and actions that will undo the work of ones that came before us. This goes for education, for environment, and for rights of women, minorities and LGBTQ community, and numerous other issues that I feel like are at peril.
Mostly, I marched so I would be less afraid.
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 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.
First, women’s rights. I came of age before Roe v. Wade and I never want to go back. Also for rights of other vulnerable populations, minority, immigrants, Muslim, poor, LBGTQ, disabled..Old and young..Any one seen as OTHER..We have a moral obligation to treat all OTHERS with respect and love. I am a Christian and absolutely believe Jesus would have been marching with us..These are the very folks he cared for, I grieve for what many “so-called Christians” do in Jesus’ name. It is truly evil. I am so angry at our “so called leaders.” I will not go quietly. I am a nurse practitioner and have fought the mainstream white male medical establishment for the right to practice my trade decades..I am now broadening the fight..
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.