Wednesday, January 18, 2017

#WhyIMarch

Zippy and I hiked in the woods the other day, following the icy trails around Evergreen Cemetery. The cold air stung our eyes but the sun shone warm and bright, and it felt great to breathe fresh air. As he skipped and hopped and twirled beside, in front, and around me, I felt peaceful, happy, content. Until I realized the Womens' March is in a few days, I am going, and I don't know what to expect. I've never done anything like this, except for a few years ago at Occupy Philly, which was nothing compared to the numbers they're anticipating this weekend. The Women's March will be a peaceful protest, yes, but 200,000 is an awful lot of people in highly charged city during turbulent times. I felt anxiety creeping into my chest.

"So you know I'm going away this weekend, right? To Washington, D.C. For just two sleeps. Do you know why I'm going?" I asked Zippy.

"Because you don't like Donald Trump and he's going to be the President."

"Well, that's true, but it's not really why I'm going," I tried to clarify. I explained that I don't hate Donald Trump, but I don't believe in the things he stands for. I didn't go into great detail, but I wanted my son to know that I'm marching because I love him and I love our family and I care a lot about protecting the progress that has been made for civil rights of all people. I told him I'm marching to stand up for what I believe in.

"Do you understand what I mean, babe?" I asked.

"Yeah, momma, of course. Hate has no home here." 

I caught my breath, wiped my eyes. Hate has no home here. Words from my 6-year-old son, who doesn't blink at having friends with two moms or a genderqueer teacher, a child who has only ever known a black president. His little-kid world is open and welcoming, free of judgment. Yet this is the same child who asked about World War 3 the day after the election, who worries that his immigrant friends will be sent away. Hate has no home here. 

Suddenly the anxiety I felt over the march melted away, replaced with a renewed sense of purpose: I'm marching on Saturday not to protest Donald Trump -- I have no more control over him than I do over hurricanes or the flu -- but because I reject all that he stands for. I reject racism, sexism, chauvinism, homophobia. I reject Islamophobia and isolationism. I reject bullying. I reject cronyism and nepotism and the 2% getting richer at our expense. I reject endless war. I reject stripping the land of natural resources. I reject legislating women's bodies -- anyone's bodies. I reject the notion that any human is illegal. 

Of course I want jobs and prosperity for people in rural America; of course I want safety and security here and abroad. But not at the expense of civil rights and common decency. 

I'm marching because I'm raising white, middle-class boys who will grow up to be white, middle-class men. They will come of age in an era in which the elected leader of their country is a mean-spirited, short-tempered, ignorant, bully. He's demonstrated overt racism throughout his lifetime. He stirred up significant hate during his campaign and legitimized violence. And he is  a sexual predator, let's not forget. He has shown every indication that he intends to rule as a despot. The people he's chosen to surround him during his campaign, his transition, and his Cabinet have shown they accept and embrace all of this, as have the folks who now lead the House and Senate. Will my children grow up thinking that in order to be a leader, you have to intimidate, strong-arm, and harass? Will they grow up thinking that the only opinion that matters is yours, that facts are not necessary, or that science doesn't count? Will they grow up thinking the only way to get ahead is at the expense of women, people of color, and poor people? No. No. No. Not while I'm standing.

I'm marching because I want my sons to know that when you're afraid of something, you don't pretend it's not really there. You gather your courage, you hold on to what you know is right, and you stand up.


I'm marching for respect and rights for all people, regardless of skin color, class, gender, or sexuality. I'm marching for fair wages and for women who have to make hard decisions about childcare and work. I'm marching for strong public education and teachers who work hard for our kids. I'm marching for my friends and family who rely on the ACA for health care. I'm marching to make it clear that a woman's choice over what to do with her body remains her choice. I'm marching because our earth, air, and water need protection from humans. I'm marching because I believe in peace, empathy, and care. 

In my search for pithy sayings to write on a sign (which I've actually given up on -- only a pink pussy hat for this girl), I came across a quote attributed to Angela Davis, the civil rights activist. As I've mentioned here before, I'm no freedom fighter. I don't know that I'd go so far as to call myself an activist, either. But these words hit the mark:

“I’m no longer accepting the things I cannot change…I’m changing the things I cannot accept.”

I'm no longer able to sit still.



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