They told us to shut up. They told us to sit down. They told us that even though he says he can grab a woman, and even though the most anti-LGBTQ politician in the country is his VP, and even though he mocked a person with a disability, and even though he threatened a registry for Muslims, and even though he said a woman who has an abortion should be punished…
That we should give him a chance.
That we should wait and “see what he does.”
That we are whiners. Privileged women who don’t appreciate how “good we have it.”
And in response, we said FUCK THAT. And we marched. All 2.9 million of us around the world.
I was part of something on Saturday, January 21. It was a day I will never forget. It was a day of positivity and optimism and unity.
To those who say we are creating a greater divide by protesting, and that we should work to unify under our new president, I say it sounds like you and I have a different definition of that word.
Because I have never felt more united with my fellow Americans than I did at our local women’s march. And not just to women—because our rally was full of men and children as well. We all united together.
A Jewish rabbi gave an impassioned speech in which he committed to standing alongside his Christian brothers and sisters and his Muslim brothers and sisters. He vowed that if our new president demands a registry for Muslims in the way that Jews have been forced to register in the past, that he will stand with them.
A transgender woman spoke about her passion for transgender rights AND women’s rights, as they intersect in so many ways. She vowed to continue working for justice and safety and equality for not just the transgender community, but for all who are threatened.
A Mexican immigrant described his family’s journey to find a better life in America. He encouraged his fellow Mexican Americans to educate themselves, get involved, and vote to help make our country, which is also now their country, better for our children.
A Syrian refugee spoke with gratitude about our city welcoming him and his family as well as other refugees fleeing war-torn countries and states. He encouraged us to continue to help those in need, for refugees are given no choice of which country or state they will live in. And they often have nothing more than the clothes on their backs. These are men, women, and children—families that look a lot like yours and mine—who escaped with merely their lives.
We clapped and cheered, held up our signs and joined together to show the rabbi and the transgender woman and the Mexican immigrant and the Syrian refugee and all of the other speakers (and there were many) that they all belong. That we want them all here. That we value their lives. That they deserve basic human rights.
I was fortunate to rally in beautiful 55 degree weather. But others marched through rain, heat, and freezing cold. Hell, women marched in freaking Antarctica. Women marched with their children. Men marched with their wives. Gay partners marched hand-in-hand. Teenagers marched alongside the elderly. Black women marched alongside white. Immigrants marched. Victims of sexual violence marched. Muslims marched with Christians who marched with Jews.
That’s what unity looks like to me.
They said we are privileged and have no right to “whine” as our rights are not infringed upon.
Well, if you’ve never relied on Planned Parenthood for health care,
Or if you’ve never had a doctor tell you at 20 weeks pregnant that your baby is slowly suffocating to death but you cannot legally end his suffering,
Or if you’ve never been sexually harassed and told to keep quiet so as to not upset the status quo,
Or if you’ve never been trapped as a victim of domestic violence, unable to escape due to economic reasons or fear of losing your kids,
Or if you’ve never been embarrassed or humiliated or sexualized by a powerful man who thinks he can do whatever the hell he wants with you,
Then maybe you think we have it “too good” and we have no right to march.
But 2.9 million women across the globe disagree. And I was one of them.
My sign said “We Deserve Better.” Because we do. I do. So you do. My kids deserve better. So do yours. They deserve a president who cares about America more than his own inflated ego. My gay friends and relatives deserve better. They deserve basic human rights that aren’t in jeopardy because of whom they love. My Muslim friends deserve better. They deserve to feel safe going to and from work and school and the grocery store. Christians deserve better. We deserve a leader who follows the teachings of Jesus—of kindness and love—if he is going to place his hand on our sacred bible. Women deserve better. We deserve respect and value and control over our lives, our careers, our paychecks, and our bodies.
We all deserve better than this.
So, yes, I believe that we should unite. But unity does not mean sitting down and taping our mouths shut and accepting everything this president says and does. Unity means standing up and holding hands with my fellow Americans of all races and ethnicities and religions and sexual orientations and genders. It means saying we all belong here. We are all valued. We all matter. And we all deserve better.
And yes, we are privileged. And I am damn proud of how we are using it. We live in a land where freedom of speech is held sacred, a land where we can march. We march for ourselves, as we should. And we march for those who cannot. Whose voices are silenced by fear or disability or racism or sexism or prejudice.
This country is made up of people who are white, black, hispanic, latino, gay, straight, women, men, transgender, disabled, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and every color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and religion in between. We are united and we’d love for you to join us.
Don’t worry—we’re only snowflakes. We won’t bite.
This post was originally published on Sammiches and Psych Meds.