On January 21, 2017, I joined people marching on every continent to show up and stand up for human rights. The Women’s March is estimated to be the biggest protest in US History. Yet, one question I continue to be asked is, why march? The Women’s March on Washington’s Unity Principles outline the premise for the march. This was not a single issue event unless, of course, that single issue was human rights.
The Women’s March was much bigger than any one person, one party, or one issue. The event marked a momentous occasion, bringing together and honoring diversity across our nation and the world. While we might not all agree on individual policies, we came together in solidarity to demand “the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families – recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.”
Why I Marched
I marched because I’m a social worker for social justice.
Because I’m an evaluator for equality.
Because everyone deserves access to human rights, health care, and housing.
Because I want to use my privilege for peace not power.
Because everyone has the right to control their body.
Because we all deserve respect.
I marched to show others that discrimination is abominable.
That rape culture is unacceptable.
That abuse is unconscionable.
That homelessness is preventable.
That love is love is love.
I marched for anyone who’s ever been told that they are not enough.
That their body is a commodity.
That their voice is not welcome.
That they will never achieve greatness.
I marched to show others that evidence matters.
That the only alternative to fact is fiction.
That honesty and transparency are important.
I marched because I believe that we are stronger together.
That kindness and compassion are not outliers.
I marched because I could.
The forebearers of my family and of so many other families forged the way for me to use my voice to demand change, community, and compassion. I am grateful to have been a part of this moment in history. Yet I am cognizant that I was afforded this opportunity because of my privilege. I had the privilege to have the weekend off of work to spend a day marching, protesting, and rallying for social justice. I had the privilege of owning a personal vehicle to transport me to the event. I had the privilege of not worrying about being targeted because of the color of my skin or to be concerned about being apprehended and questioned because of my religion or my citizenship. To march feeling safe was a privilege.
It is my hope that we all continue to explore our privilege, beliefs, and values. That we encourage each other to speak and to listen – to build bridges and communities, not walls and cliques. As Brene Brown wrote, “Empathy has no script. There is no right way or wrong way to do it. It’s simply listening, holding space, withholding judgment, emotionally connecting, and communicating that incredibly healing message of ‘you’re not alone.’”
On January 21st we showed up and we stood together. This is not the end or a sprint. It’s the beginning of a new marathon. We honored those who came before us – those who were recognized and those who were silenced.
I see you, I hear you, I stand beside you. Stronger together.