in the past i have shied away from political topics both on here and on my social media feeds. although i have always been a very proud democrat and have supported candidates with strong social justice platforms, my involvement has never gone beyond voting in elections. i had never contacted a congressperson, i had never participated in a march, and i have never been particularly active in vocalizing my opinions.
so what changed?
last november, my country overlooked the most qualified person to ever run for our highest office and instead elected a man whose campaign was based on shouting over everyone else and bullying his opponents into submission. i spent the day after the election in a daze, not quite ready to accept what had happened and unsure how it had come about. i spent most of the day on the verge of tears, because for the first time in my life i felt a real fear about what the future held for my country.
and yes, i know how lucky i am to be able to write that previous sentence. i know i am lucky to have been born and brought up here. i know i am lucky to have never experienced a major disaster, whether it be natural or man-made. i know i am lucky to have never feared for my life or the lives of the people i love. i know i am lucky.
i also know i am lucky because of the many men and women who have come before me and who have fought for the rights i grew up with. i was born an american citizen because my parents were allowed to come here to further their education and establish their careers. i attended good schools because they worked hard to ensure i received a great education. i am able to vote because women fought for years to ensure i would have that ability. i am afforded control over my body because others were not, and they refused to be treated as second-class citizens.
but just because i am lucky, that doesn’t mean that i don’t know people who are not. that doesn’t mean i take it for granted. i recognize and admit all of the ways in which i am privileged, and i try my best to provide support for those who are not. i donate to organizations that offer support for disadvantaged citizens. i volunteer my time. i work for a nonprofit that works everyday to bring together youth from all backgrounds and encourage them to work together to find solutions for the problems in their communities. as brenna put it so succinctly, “our privilege is wasted if we do not use it for good.”
channeling that spirit, this past weekend, i marched.
being a part of the women’s march in memphis was one of the greatest honors of my life. i was so proud to walk amongst so many women, men, and children from all walks of life who came together to support equality and justice. we were not protesting anything; rather, we were showing solidarity in the belief that love really does trump hate.
for the most part, the marches around the world have received glowing reports. there were no incidents of violence and no arrests in connection with the marches, which happened in over 600 cities across the world. nearly everyone who showed up was there to support one another. scrolling through my facebook and instagram feeds on saturday made me so happy, and i am proud to know so many amazing people who participated across the country and around the world.
for me personally, i marched because i believe a woman should have the right to decide what to do with her own body, and no one should be able to take that away from her. i marched because we are a country built on immigrants, including my own parents, and i believe we should celebrate that. i marched because i believe love is love is love is love, and no one should be discriminated against because of who they love. i marched because i believe that black lives matter. i marched because i believe that healthcare should be affordable and accessible for all. i marched because i believe that climate change is real and that we are in danger of depleting our world’s natural resources. i marched for the students i work with whose lives and families have been and will continue to be impacted in the months to come. i marched in celebration of all the wonderful people i know of different genders, religions, ethnicities, and orientations.
but it doesn’t end with one march.
this has been a wake up call for me. i hate that this is what it took, but i now know that i need to be more involved. i need to be more aware of what is happening on a local level here in memphis. i need to become more educated about the issues impacting my city. i need to be more vocal about speaking up if i believe an injustice is being committed. i need to do my part to understand the other side. i need to lend my support wherever and whenever i can.
if you are like me and still looking for ways to become more active, here are a few suggestions:
- donate to your local chapters of planned parenthood or the aclu, or to other organizations in your city who are committed to creating social change
- attend meetings and become more informed about the issues impacting your city
- practice having uncomfortable conversations and open, honest debate
- be an ally for those whose voices are not being heard
- contact your local and state senators and representatives and voice your opinion. after all, they were elected to represent your interests
- follow the women’s march page for 10 actions to take in the first 100 days of the new administration. first up: write postcards to your local senators
- check out the indivisible guide for practical advice on how to get involved and make sure your voice is heard
- sign up for jen’s weekly checklist of things to read and ways to stay involved
- flora has some great ideas in her post about participating in the london march, and she expresses her thoughts and feelings so much more eloquently than i can
- spread the word!
i refuse to accept that our country will regress, and i will work as hard as i can to ensure that does not happen. ours is a country of love and freedom and equality, and together we will be continue to build on that legacy.
will you join me?