I Have a Right to My Own Body.

My health should not be regulated by men. I should have the right to make the best choices for myself with the help of my doctor without repercussions from lawmakers. And Donald Trump is at the very least is a perpetrator of sexual abuse if not an all out rapist. He doesn’t represent me or the women of this country. Too many men get too little punishment for their actions against women, and it’s sickening.

 

I Am A Woman, A Refugee, An American, & Afraid

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.

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.

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.

I Marched To Send a Message to Congress

I marched to send a message to congress – to tell them “we’re paying attention and we’re ready to react,” to be part of something bigger than myself, and to support my belief that women (and all under-represented groups of people) need to be considered when policy decisions are made and our voices should be heard.

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!