One Year Later. One Year Stronger.
A Glimpse into Why I Marched Today
It’s easy to get bogged down into the “shit hole” that is American politics. I am sometimes so angry that I can’t think or write clearly.
However, when I looked around me at the Women’s March today, I felt so much more than anger. I felt pride. I felt gratitude. I felt love.
I attended my first Indivisible meeting on Martin Luther King’s birthday last year. I went because my dear friend was hosting it — not because I believed that I would witness the initial stages of a surge of political activism in my towns of South Orange and Maplewood (SOMA) in New Jersey.
I also did not think that the nation would be able to use this energy to effect impactful change. Within minutes of attending the meeting, I knew that this was real.
Some women realized that they had to become political activists for the first time in their 60s. Other women in their 70s thought that they had finally hung up their marching shoes decades earlier only to find out that they were needed on the front lines more than ever. Women in their 30s suddenly understood the battles that their mothers fought more clearly.
I watched a thread of anger, power, and passion weave through the meeting connecting all of us in its path.
After the meeting, I turned on my car and, in a moment of divine intervention, I heard Dr. King’s voice on NPR: “We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.” I couldn’t move — immobilized by the moment.
Even those of us who have marched for decades learned a lot in one year. Advocacy is always tough work. However, we realized all too quickly that facts simply did not matter to the opposition. Reality moved like quicksand under our feet making it difficult to navigate the terrain and develop a comprehensive strategy.
We also recognized that uniting around an anti-Trump platform was not enough. We had to reorganize and change our activism to reflect the world that we wanted to see. The same white men could not run everything and expect everyone else to fall in line. Those of us who had been “others” all of our lives felt too angry and betrayed by almost half of our population.
It has been a long year filled not only with pain, anger, and resentment, but also with hope, vision, and jubilation. We have suffered terrible loses. But, we have had victories that shocked us all. We are starting to believe in our collective power.
Today, as I marched with women I did not know a year ago, I felt overwhelmed by the love and unity that surrounded me. I have opened myself up to complete strangers in ways that once was not possible or necessary. I have developed battle hardened bonds with these women. No matter where we end up, we have walked through fire together and we will always be connected.
One of these women asked me to help fire up our local troops before we boarded trains to go to our local Women’s March. She asked me to share why I was marching today. When I looked out into a sea of faces who have stood shoulder to shoulder with me for the past year, I realized that so much has changed in all of us. And, this is what I said…
Why am I marching today?
The Trump Administration’s constant barrage of hate-filled speech and policies repulse me. They counter everything that I believe and who I am.
Who am I?
I am the wife of an African immigrant whose path to citizenship was made easier because when his grandparents fled Nazi Germany, they stopped in New York City and gave birth to my father-in-law before building their lives in Africa.
I am the daughter of a dancer and an actress who left these industries because the #MeToo did not exist yet and no one would listen.
I am the friend of my baby’s Godfather who had to wait over a decade to marry his husband because the laws in this country would not recognize that love is love.
I am the great great granddaughter of a man in Alabama who accidentally locked eyes with a white woman — did not avert them fast enough and woke up in the middle of the night to a neighbor knocking on his door. The neighbor said that the Klan was coming. So, he grabbed his wife, grabbed his babies, and fled to NJ.
I am the sister of a tremendous woman with disabilities who finally succumbed to them. But, before she did, she needed government support to live her life.
I am the mother of an amazing baby girl who is a mixture of so many cultures that she truly is America.
Now, I grew up in SOMA. You are my community! We will march today to protect our community, to protect our way of life, and to fight for our country!
We will NOT let them have it!
So, as you go out there today, I ask you to keep one word in the back of your minds and in your hearts. That word is “No!”
NO to regressive and oppressive policies!
NO to the immorality of hate and dominance!
NO to a vision of great America that does not include the beauty of all of the people in it!
We will be victorious because we must be. We will build a society for our children that will accept, support, educate, nurture, and love them not in spite of, but because of, who they are!
So, join me now in saying “NO!”
For those of you have stayed with me on Medium during the past year, thank you.
We must keep fighting. We have too far to go to stop now.
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