I don’t think that anyone can deny how amazing the marches were this past Saturday, millions of women, and men, and children, coming together in cities all over the US, AND all over the world, to march for equality, for human rights and to make our voices HEARD. And they were heard, but whether they were actually listened to is an entirely other question and one that we need to ask ourselves every day. In my opinion this was only the beginning, now every day we need to take action: call, write, discuss, and never let anyone shut you up.
I found it quite telling that on Friday when my mother posted #notmypresident on social media, a white male told her to shut up and another told her to grow up. And yes, we are all free to say what we want, but it was a little ironic that it had to be a man telling a woman to “shut up” because she dared to voice her opinion. My sister posted the same hashtag and received messages from people she didn’t even know to “go back to where she came from”. So as women we are meant to “shut up” and as immigrants we are meant to “accept it or fuck off”. Or even better “you are OK because you did it the right way”. Because, of course, there are “right” immigrants and “wrong” ones… Although, having been “both” I can tell you that you will never know who is what, because funnily enough there are only grey areas in immigration.
I have been reading many articles discussing the marches and their impact on social media, and was a little perplexed by the sheer amount of women discrediting them and telling us that “we all had equal rights anyway and we should just stop crying and work harder if we weren’t making enough money”. Well, thankfully, millions of us aren’t so self-absorbed, and stood up for not only ourselves but for every other woman on this planet. Women in Kenya were marching for their rights to own property and to end genital mutilation and for our rights too, together, as sisters (thanks Cara!)! We stood up together, as one. And if you can’t understand that, then I can’t understand you either. There have been some really awesome posts in response to all of the backlash already, so I won’t add to that, but if you can’t see past your own privilege then you live in a very, very small and whitewashed world.
So what are the next steps? It can’t stop here. Every day I see a new order being signed, and a new freedom disappearing. Our planet, our rights, our fellow humans are all in danger, and we can stop it. But this means apathy is NOT an option. I want my kids to be able to visit orangutans in their natural habitat, to ride horses along the ocean and to breathe in fresh air. I want my fellow humans and animals to be able to drink water that has not been contaminated. I want to always be able to say what I think out loud without being worried about being shut down. I want my kids to always be proud of their mixed heritage and not live in fear. I want to see everyone treated as equals, no matter who they are and how much money they have. I want many things, but mainly I want us to fight for what is right, and what is right for those around us. I may not have the right to vote in this country but I DO have a voice. This week I will be writing letters to my senators, Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, and every week from now on I will be writing letters to my representatives. I will call, and talk and write and motivate. I will continue to teach my kids to question everything. I sometimes have difficulties finding the right words when I am talking, but writing is my tool and my art, and I will use it in more ways than one to make my voice heard.
Yesterday Dianne Feinstein’s office asked for any of us who had participated in the marches in California to send a quick email describing why we marched, so that she could use some of the examples in her opening statement in the Senate today. I feel like what I sent describes exactly what I feel. (I could have added a lot more but they only asked for 2-4 sentences).
“I marched because I am a survivor of sexual assault; an immigrant who spent years and years not being able to join the rest of my family here because I happened to be 21 when they immigrated together; the partner of a Mexican immigrant, and the mother of two beautiful British-Mexican US citizen girls. I marched because I want them to always be proud of who they are, and to always stand up for others who are not able to use their voices. I marched because I believe we are all equal, no matter where we were born, what the colour of our skin is, what our religion is, what our gender is and who we fall in love with is. I marched because my eldest was born with a heart defect and without access to consistent cardiology appointments she may one day fall down and die, appointments that we can only afford with affordable healthcare. And finally I marched for all of my sisters, because together we are stronger.”
My eldest daughter, nearly three years old, demanded to walk on Saturday, and ran, skipped, clapped and sang her way to the Capitol. My youngest laughed all the way, comfortable in her stroller seat. Both girls were calm and excited, and enjoyed being part of this huge gathering. I am very glad that they got to experience this with me and with their auntie, friends and millions of other women all over the world. This is only the beginning. Now please, get writing and calling and demanding to be heard.
If you are interested in continuing the fight but don't know where to start here are some helpful resources: