Yesterday I had the great privilege of marching in the Jackson sister march to the Women’s March on Washington. Several people have asked me about what the march was about, and I feel that it’s important to share. I’ve responded to dozens of individual comments from people who were honestly curious about the goal of the march and a few who just think that I’m a snowflake who should stop whining. So if you have a genuine interest in why I marched, please read on.
First, let me tell you what it’s not. It’s not an anti-Trump protest. Sure, some people used it for that platform, but that wasn’t the intent.
I’ve copied the actual mission, vision, and guiding principles below so you can read them in full. But for the purposes of this post, I want to share what each of these means to me. I want you to know why *I* marched.
Most importantly, I marched to ask our new president to honor his promise to me from two days ago. In his inaugural address, President Trump said,
No matter what your beliefs, and whether those are aligned with mine or not, you have a voice. And you should be heard. Women have voices. Humans of all colors and races, religions and nationality, sexual and gender identification and orientation… humans… Humans have voices, and they should be heard.
I *do* agree with the mission and the guiding principles of this particular march. I agree 100% that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country. And yes, that includes my vibrant and diverse group of friends who disagree with me. 🙂
The mission of the march begins with a strong and inflammatory statement – that the rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us.
Let’s be clear, that rhetoric comes from both sides. People were angry. People were emotional. People were passionate. As a result, people have been insulted, upset, and afraid. It’s not my place to validate, or invalidate those feelings. The feelings are real, and it’s my place to ask “why?” and “what can I do differently so people don’t feel this way?“
In terms of the unifying principles, I am also in agreement and here are my stories as to why. Let me be clear – this isn’t about me. I have it lucky. I’m a white, straight female brought up in a safe and loving environment. I have very little to lose, but my brothers and sisters have much to gain from our voices.
I marched to end violence because of the women I’ve known who are in hiding as a result of domestic violence, and also for the women who are too afraid to break free. I marched for my friends and family who don’t see the police through the same lens of honor, safety and justice that I do, and I’ll continue to march until there is no tolerance for those who abuse their positions of power. I marched because black lives matter, blue lives matter, and your life matters. We are all humans created by God, and until everyone feels that way, I will continue to try to remind the world.
I marched to support reproductive rights because I’ve been a patient at Planned Parenthood. They provided me with reproductive care when I was a student and didn’t have health insurance. I marched in honor of my brave friend who shared her story of abortion and the circumstances leading to it. That’s all I’ll say because that’s her story to tell, not mine. Likewise, it is her body and her baby… not mine nor the government’s.
I marched to support LGBTQIA rights. I marched in honor of my friends who have been called derogatory names because of who they love. I marched in honor of my friends who have run, or have hidden, or who continue to hide because they are afraid of how people will react to them. I know and love so many people who identify with various genders and sexual orientations. Their activities in bedrooms, bathrooms, or with their partners don’t affect me any more than yours do, and I love them, just like I love you.
I marched to support workers rights because I grew up watching and hearing about the Postal Worker’s Union. I believe our voices should be heard in the workforce. And yes, I have been in a situation where I wasn’t treated equally. I’m blessed to work for a wonderful company now that treats me fairly. But that wasn’t always the case. I once worked for a man who would take every male manager in the office out on Fridays to golf, while I (and the other woman) stayed at work doing our jobs and theirs too. That same man hired a less-experienced man to “help” me, had me train him, paid him more, and then laid me off. I was too young, too surprised, and too beaten down to take action at that time, and so today I marched to let the world know that I now know better.
I marched to support civil rights, even though I have never felt that my civil rights were at risk. Thanks to those who came before me, I grew up exercising my right to vote, my right to worship when and who I please, and the right to safely march through Jackson protected by the amazing Jackson Police Department. I will continue to march until others can fully exercise those same freedoms. I marched because in the 21st century, I was told that I should use the “white” gas station on one side of the street, and because I’m certain there were others that weren’t welcomed there. I marched out of respect for my friend who, despite giving out the full-size candy bars at Halloween, overheard someone telling her neighbor that “they wouldn’t go to THAT house.” And I marched for my friend who refused to use a small-town gas station bathroom on a road trip because of the color of her skin and the rebel flags we saw flying near by.
I marched to support disability rights because some of the most inspiring people I’ve ever known have had disabilities. They do not let that stop them, and nor should we. I marched in respect for my blind friend who is one of the most dynamic speakers I’ve ever heard, and in memory of Darius Weems who is gone now but who touched so many lives before he went.
I marched to support immigrant rights. I marched in respect for my friend who came here from Sudan as a child and fights every day to build a new life, free of the war-torn childhood he grew up in. I marched in respect for his wife and his new baby who he worked tirelessly to support and eventually bring to join him. I marched in honor of my many friends from Honduras who have moved to the United States to get a better education, to be with the people they love, or to make a better life for themselves or their family. I marched in honor of my friend (who is actually NOT an immigrant) but was shouted at (in front of her family) to “go back to where she came from” because of the color of her skin. And I marched because almost everyone I know in the United States is here because one of their ancestors braved a new world to follow their dreams. Our brothers and sisters worldwide have the same right to do just that, and I will welcome them with open arms.
I marched for environmental justice. I’ve always felt that we (myself included) need to do a better job taking care of our Earthly home. Deep inside, I’m still the little girl who picked up cans beside highway 32. I’m still the little girl who refused to take my McDonald’s burger in styrofoam packaging and brought my own reusable cup to fast food restaurants. I don’t do a great job today, but I am trying to do better.
For those of you want to know why I marched, I hope this answered your questions.
A special thank you to my sweet mother. A wicked and nasty woman who taught me to never be afraid to speak my mind. Thanks mom. 🙂
Thanks to Bob McLevaine for the cover photo taken on the steps of the Mississippi State Capitol.
If you want to read the full mission, vision, and unity principles of the march, I’ve included them below.
Mission & Vision
We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for 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.
The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us – immigrants of all statuses, Muslims and those of diverse religious faiths, people who identify as LGBTQIA, Native people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, survivors of sexual assault – and our communities are hurting and scared. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear.
In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.
We support the advocacy and resistance movements that reflect our multiple and intersecting identities. We call on all defenders of human rights to join us. This march is the first step towards unifying our communities, grounded in new relationships, to create change from the grassroots level up. We will not rest until women have parity and equity at all levels of leadership in society. We work peacefully while recognizing there is no true peace without justice and equity for all.
HEAR OUR VOICE.
Women’s rights are human rights, regardless of a woman’s race, ethnicity, religion, immigration status, sexual identity, gender expression, economic status, age or disability. We practice empathy with the intent to learn about the intersecting identities of each other. We will suspend our first judgement and do our best to lead without ego. We follow the principles of Kingian nonviolence, which are defined as follows:
- Principle 1: Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people. It is a positive force confronting the forces of injustice and utilizes the righteous indignation and spiritual, emotional, and intellectual capabilities of people as the vital force for change and reconciliation.
- Principle 2: The Beloved Community is the framework for the future. The nonviolent concept is an overall effort to achieve a reconciled world by raising the level of relationships among people to a height where justice prevails and persons attain their full human potential.
- Principle 3: Attack forces of evil, not persons doing evil. The nonviolent approach helps one analyze the fundamental conditions, policies and practices of the conflict rather than reacting to one’s opponents or their personalities.
- Principle 4: Accept suffering without retaliation for the sake of the cause to achieve our goal. Self-chosen suffering is redemptive and helps the movement grow in a spiritual as well as a humanitarian dimension. The moral authority of voluntary suffering for a goal communicates the concern to one’s own friends and community as well as to the opponent.
- Principle 5: Avoid internal violence of the spirit as well as external physical violence. The nonviolent attitude permeates all aspects of the campaign. It provides a mirror type reflection of the reality of the condition to one’s opponent and the community at large. Specific activities must be designed to maintain a high level of spirit and morale during a nonviolent campaign.
We believe that Women’s Rights are Human Rights and Human Rights are Women’s Rights. We must create a society in which women – including Black women, Native women, poor women, immigrant women, disabled women, Muslim women, lesbian queer and trans women – are free and able to care for and nurture their families, however they are formed, in safe and healthy environments free from structural impediments.
Women deserve to live full and healthy lives, free of all forms of violence against our bodies. We believe in accountability and justice in cases of police brutality and ending racial profiling and targeting of communities of color. It is our moral imperative to dismantle the gender and racial inequities within the criminal justice system.
We believe in Reproductive Freedom. We do not accept any federal, state or local rollbacks, cuts or restrictions on our ability to access quality reproductive healthcare services, birth control, HIV/AIDS care and prevention, or medically accurate sexuality education. This means open access to safe, legal, affordable abortion and birth control for all people, regardless of income, location or education.
We firmly declare that LGBTQIA Rights are Human Rights and that it is our obligation to uplift, expand and protect the rights of our gay, lesbian, bi, queer, trans or gender non-conforming brothers, sisters and siblings. We must have the power to control our bodies and be free from gender norms, expectations and stereotypes.
We believe in an economy powered by transparency, accountability, security and equity. All women should be paid equitably, with access to affordable childcare, sick days, healthcare, paid family leave, and healthy work environments. All workers – including domestic and farm workers, undocumented and migrant workers – must have the right to organize and fight for a living minimum wage.
We believe Civil Rights are our birthright, including voting rights, freedom to worship without fear of intimidation or harassment, freedom of speech, and protections for all citizens regardless of race, gender, age or disability. We believe it is time for an all-inclusive Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
We believe that all women’s issues are issues faced by women with disabilities and Deaf women. As mothers, sisters, daughters, and contributing members of this great nation, we seek to break barriers to access, inclusion, independence, and the full enjoyment of citizenship at home and around the world. We strive to be fully included in and contribute to all aspects of American life, economy, and culture.
Rooted in the promise of America’s call for huddled masses yearning to breathe free, we believe in immigrant and refugee rights regardless of status or country of origin. We believe migration is a human right and that no human being is illegal.
We believe that every person and every community in our nation has the right to clean water, clean air, and access to and enjoyment of public lands. We believe that our environment and our climate must be protected, and that our land and natural resources cannot be exploited for corporate gain or greed – especially at the risk of public safety and health.