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26 Jan

Thursday Thoughts

Illustrated poster created by Hanna Barczyk for the Women’s March @hannabarczyk #purplerainillustrators

T

his past Saturday, January 21, 2017, will forever be remembered as a historic example of democracy-in-action. It was a stark contrast to just one day prior which, in the most basic terms, was a sad celebration of a democracy in shambles.

Initially a grassroots effort, birthed (pun intended) in an effort to combat the Trump administration’s bigoted practices and ethical offenses, the Women’s March on Washington evolved into so much more.

As Bernie Sanders put it, “President Trump, you made a big mistake. By trying to divide us up by race, religion, gender and nationality you actually brought us closer.”  It is no longer just about protecting individual rights because if one of us loses our rights, we all will.

Signs throughout the march were covered in demands for intersectional feminism, but It isn’t just about intersectional feminism anymore. There has to be widespread understanding that all of our goals are connected and intersectional, and that feminism is only one fraction of that. That does not mean two people have to experience the same mistreatment, particularly under the law– it just means acknowledging the existence of different experiences and their absolute relation to one another. It means promising not to stop fighting when your personal goal is attained. I am a white woman. No matter how hard I try, I will never be able to truly grasp what it is like to be marginalized as a Black woman, or a Hispanic or Asian woman. Saying that I understood would be an insult to their struggles and successes. I can, however, promise that I will not forget or ignore the extra battles they have and continue to need to fight.

In regards to Trump’s blatant disregard for women’s rights and his abhorrent (public) treatment of them (highlighted by the released tapes of him bragging about “grabbing pussies)” rally speaker Ashley Judd shared an excerpt from a Nina Donovan poem: “They ‘ain’t for grabbing… They are for birthing new generations of filthy, vulgar, nasty, proud, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh, you name it, for new generations of nasty women…I’m not nasty, like the combo of Trump and Pence being served up to me in my voting booth. I’m nasty like the battles my grandmothers fought to get me into that voting booth.’”

Yes, the march was rooted in women’s determination to protect our health care and achieve equality, but became a platform for all unfair and un-American practices including banning refugees, closing borders and building walls, repealing ACA with no replacement, ignoring climate science, Muslim registries, etc.

In a recent facebook post, my brother so eloquently explained: “During World War II, the United States closed its borders to Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied territories of Europe. Our government feared infiltration by a Nazi spy in disguise, and Jewish immigrants were therefore considered a threat to national security. Visas were suspended. Immigration quotas were established. Borders were sealed. LET ME BE VERY CLEAR: A family of Syrian refugees today is no different from the refugees of my family in the 1940s. If you don’t understand what the big deal is regarding the president’s immigration policies, just take a look at the parts of my family tree that were burned in the gas chambers of Nazi concentration camps.”

The famous statement by Pastor Martin Niemöller (dating back to the mid 1940s), just like so many aspects of dark times in history, is as fitting today as ever.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

This is the start of a new resistance- A fight to deny those in power the ability to roll back rights, to turn us into a nationalist, isolationist, religious state, and to give more power to the wealthy… particularly wealthy white men.

Participating in the march in DC roused an incredibly surreal mix of emotions. I have never felt so small yet so monstrous at the same time. I was both a singular voice and part of a collective shout. I was a singular marcher and part of an army of millions of marchers in all of their entirety.

There were men supporting the women’s fight, straight marchers fighting for LGBTQ equality, US citizens fighting for immigrants and the welfare of refugees seeking asylum. This wasn’t just one fight. It was all of the fights.

“This is the upside to the downside” -Gloria Steinem.  The feminist hero and personal favorite bad-ass of mine gave us a call to action. “Make sure you introduce yourselves to each other and decide what we’re going to do tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow,” she said. “We’re never turning back!”

Representative and civil rights leader, John Lewis, is no stranger to protests and marching towards progress. “I’m ready to march again,” said Mr. Lewis,“I’ve come here to say to you: Don’t let anybody, anybody, turn you around.”

There is so much more to say and even more to get done, so I end this with a quote from Senator Elizabeth Warren, said at the march in Boston.

“You know, I could do this all day, but we gotta march.”

And I couldn’t agree more.

Gabrielle Levy
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