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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Thank You For Marching! The Women's March

Women's March in Washington, Saturday, January 21, 2016
Photo Credit: The Gorrill Family
Yesterday due to a number of personal matters, I did not attend the Women's March. Yet, thanks to CSpan and many social media threads, I was able to follow the March by watching it on television and viewing snapshots and vignettes from friends and colleagues online.

My first reaction, the morning after, is to send out a big THANK YOU to all the women, men, and children who marched. It was awesome to see so many people make the time to march in solidarity around issues of human dignity and welfare. It was a peaceful, energizing, and inspiring march.

As I listened to the many speakers, I found myself smiling, crying, and cheering. Their words awakened in me the "fire" to speak up, collaborate, and act in ways that represent my beliefs for my loved ones, friends, neighbors, community members, colleagues, students, and families.

I jotted down a few notes as I listened. I believe it was Gloria Steinem who said, "When we come together collectively we can transform the world." Her words were wonderful and made me realize that as much as many of the inauguration events were elite and exclusive, this march was wide and inclusive. Steinem quoted Hillary Clinton with the words, "Women's rights are human rights and human rights are women's rights." She relayed the information about doctors who have written to question Trump's fitness for office, and cautioned that his "Twitter finger must not become a trigger finger." She said that marchers in Berlin contacted her with the words, "We in Berlin know that walls don't work," and referenced the 6,000,000 women in Poland who recently changed laws by coming out to protest for women's rights.

Steinem focused on "bodily integrity" and the fact that the "goddess is in connections--looking at each other, not up, no more asking daddy." She encouraged the marchers to introduce themselves to each other.

Speaker after speak inspired. They emphasized that the marchers "chose to stand up" and march together. One speaker said, "Courage will not skip this generation" and "We will not choose some of our rights over all of our rights." Many spoke of love and considered the march an "uprising of love." Amanda Nguyen told her own story and asked, "What will you do with your fire?"

Michael Moore advocated for and encouraged us to call our government leaders every day. He wants us to make it part of our morning routine.  The crowd repeated the Capital number, 202-225-3121 again and again as Moore taught everyone how to speak up and act. He also encouraged the crowd to join groups such as the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, create response teams, take over the democratic party, join regions of resistance, create good laws, and run for office starting with precinct delegate. He further noted that the States that voted for Hillary Clinton have to lead the change in America by passing state legislation that improves the quality of life for citizens in their states. He said that these states will lead the country now as they have in the past with good laws and living. Ashley Judd gave a moving performance with strong words (see below).

As I continued to watch the march and read about so many other marches around the country and world, I had the chance to see Trump address the CIA. It was truly a very worrisome presentation--one that all Americans should watch to make up their own minds about what was said. His presentation brought me back to Steinem's words about his fitness for office since he is responsible for critical information, yet when he was tasked with publicly meeting with the CIA, he perseverated instead about his own popularity telling the crowd that the media was wrong about inauguration numbers and that there were many more people at his inauguration than reported, and that he was on the cover of Time magazine probably more times than anyone--15 times. Further he told the CIA about how bright his uncle who went to MIT was, mentioned something about Tom Brady, and ended by saying that he loved the CIA. Later when his press secretary, Spicer, gave a press report, he furthered discussed the numbers at the inauguration and a seemingly false report concerning an MLK picture or momento in the White House. Meanwhile about 3,000,000 marchers throughout the world were convening to stand up for the rights of people, and he made no mention of that. Later Trump tweeted about the event (see below) projecting his own thoughts about the marchers--thoughts that I know don't represent the truth since I know that many marchers were voters too. All in all, it seemed like a lost opportunity for Trump to focus on the numbers at his inauguration rather than giving an uplifting, supportive, and forward looking presentation to the CIA and affirming the fact that Americans throughout the world were marching peacefully and standing up for what they believe in. He lost a chance to connect with Americans and contribute to his inaugural words which stated that he wanted to work with all Americans. This lost opportunity leads one to wonder about the credibility of his words.

What would lead Trump to believe that the marchers didn't vote?
Many Americans called into CSpan to offer their views. I listened. Most of the Trump supporters found comfort in his leadership--they saw him as a religious man who wanted to make America better. It seemed to me that the news reports, tweets, and coverage of Trump they see provide them with an image of a man who will protect and care for them. Those who opposed Trump seemed to be aware of current trends, news, facts, and information. They feared the fact that Trump was not willing to see America as it is today, a country of diverse people with modern day challenges and problems to conquer. Later at night, the Saturday Night Live host, Aziz Ansari, had a similar perception inferring that those who are content with Trump do not encounter as much diversity in their lives and only get their knowledge from media portrayal which often tends to be negative and sensational related to diversity.  I have noticed a similar difference when talking to teachers throughout the country. Teachers in more diverse settings, in some ways, seem to be teaching a bit differently than teachers in more homogeneous settings. This is something I've noticed at conferences I attend, and a reason why I continue to stay engaged in and learn from social media threads that introduce me to educators with multiple view points and experiences.

It will take me time to really think about all that I observed yesterday. Bottom line is that I'm worried about Donald Trump as President. The fact that he could not rise up and acknowledge the marchers yesterday is very, very worrisome. The fact that he used his first opportunity to address the CIA as a chance to discuss his own popularity is similarly worrisome. In fact, it led me to read a couple of articles about how John F. Kennedy responded to the 1963 March for Civil Rights in Washington, a response different from Trump's, and yet a response that was not as powerful as I would have wished for.

I am so thankful to all those who organized the march and all those who marched. Clearly it's going to be very important for every American to stay aware, speak up, and contribute at this time in history. We have a big problem right now, a problem that challenges our democracy and our ability to support every American when it comes to living a good life. We won't all agree, but we all can work together to forward the best that our democracy can be. Yesterday's march provided hope while the President's response created cause for worry.

How will you mirror the hopefulness of yesterday's march in your own work. Here's what I choose to do: The Women's March: My Response. What will you do? I want to know.