Tag Archives: unity

Attention-Seekers: The Women’s March on Washington

“The best protection any woman can have … is courage.”
– Elizabeth Cady Stanton

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“We’re with a group of strong, beautiful women. We’re fine.”

metropicThese were the words that my travel companion and dear friend Cassondra uttered to her concerned mother by telephone as we made our way into Washington DC by metro train for the Women’s March on Washington early on the morning of January 21, 2017.

I’ve had to replay Cassondra’s words many times in my head in the days since. I’ve needed the reminder that those simple words provide. I’ve needed the strength, the affirmation, the love.

Because, let me tell you, the days following Saturday have not been easy.

The only way I know how to describe it is that I’ve walked out of a sea of love into a swarm of hatred.

I live in a small, conservative area. I don’t mean to use the word “conservative” with a negative connotation, but I’m just going to have to say it like it is. The minds around me tend to be small. They can’t (won’t) stretch far enough to take in all that is out there in this big world. I’ve become used to it. I’ve become accustomed to the responses I receive any time I go against the flow (which is pretty often). This is nothing new. I knew there’d be negativity. I was prepared for it. It’s pretty much the status quo for me.

But what I wasn’t prepared for?

What took me surprise?

The response from some of my friends.

My FEMALE friends at that.

“I’ll march at the ‘we’re all a bunch of hypocritical asshats that love to point out the splinter in another’s eye while ignoring the log in ours’ protests.”

“I didn’t ask anyone to march for me.”

“No one ‘fought’ shit. You guys walked around getting pats on your back from people who already agreed with you.”

“They’re just a bunch of attention-seeking whores.”

Lovely, huh?

And, oh no….these were not comments that I just plucked off of the internet, mind you. These were said by women I know personally. Women I considered friends. In fact, one of them was one I had even considered one of my best friends right up until the moment my eyes met those words.

I feel shell shocked.

I’ve been running their words over in my mind.

Attention-seeking whores.”

Women (and men) just looking for “pats on the back.”

I suppose there is some truth to some of it. Really. For example – attention-seeking? Okay, actually yeah. That’s exactly what we were doing. Exactly. Drawing attention to the things that get swept under the rug. The drastic wage difference between men and women. The daily cat-calling, condescension, and groping that women are submitted to.  The men who make their eight-year-old daughters cry because they want their hair cut but daddy refuses to “let them” because the Bible says they’ll go to hell. (Oh yes. True story.) The Brock Turners of the world who serve three mere months in jail for damage that a woman will live with forever, because it may have hurt his little swimming career.

The men who brag about grabbing women’s pussies against their will because they have the power to do so, and yet advance to become the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

Are we wanting attention? Well, yeah. I suppose you can say we are.

So, attention-seeking – I’ll give you.  Whores?  Hell, I don’t know. Maybe some of them out there have been paid for sex. Me, though? Notsomuch. So I’m gonna have to pull a snopes on you for that one. FALSE.

Now. Are we looking for “pats on the back”?

Hmmm. Actually, I think that might be the other way around. We were there to give those pats on the back.

nastywomanmanTo the woman I overheard trying desperately to hear on her cellphone as the crowd thickened and the decibel level rose because she was calling to make sure her son made it to soccer practice? Yes. That woman deserves a pat on the back. So, here. This pat is for you.

To the man who married a “nasty woman” and showed up to show his support and love for her and all women like her? This pat is for you, sir.

To the woman carrying the sign that said, “I’m the lesbian daughter of a Muslim immigrant?” This pat is for you, you strong, beautiful, brave woman. And here’s another one for your mom.

babyTo the many women in the crowd who carried their babies on their person for hours at a time so that they could be a part of an historical event to have their voices heard? This pat? Yeah. This one is definitely for you. What a story you’ll have to tell them. Kudos to you, momma.

To the little latino girl on her daddy’s shoulders beaming as she watched 6-year-old Sophie Cruz, daughter of Mexican immigrants, give arguably the most rousing speech of the day? That smile that covered her face as little Sophie told her, “I am here to tell the children, do not be afraid”?  Oh yeah, that one gets a pat on the back. And it would have gotten the biggest hug you’ve ever gotten from a ginger stranger if I could have reached you, you sweet little thing you.

hatefearTo the teenager holding the rainbow sign showing the USA and the words, “No hate, no fear, everyone is welcome here”? A pat on the back for you, little warrior woman. I know full well how tough it is for a teenager who is “different.” How brave you were to walk through the streets of that big city and show the other kids of the world that you were on their side.

To the woman wearing the race bib on your shirt that said “Sarah bear”? Being a runner myself, I had to ask you about it. I thought it was yours. When you told me that you were wearing that bib in honor of your young daughter who had just passed away? I couldn’t stop the tears from pouring. You definitely get a pat on the back. A big one. You possess a strength that I couldn’t possibly know. You are my hero.

To the woman who wrote this sign we found propped against a fence at the white house:

sign

This blog would go on forever if I kept up with all of these ‘pats on the back,’ so I’ll finish it up with one final one.

To the woman who stood by my side through it all. The woman I watched feed a homeless man; defend a woman who was being verbally attacked by a stranger on the street; force a parting of the crowd to help a woman break through to find her son. The woman who continually asked people’s stories. Who felt people’s pain. Who engaged everyone in conversation. Who shed tears on countless occasions simply because she was standing where she was and doing what she felt in her heart to be right. The woman who never wanted to be in front of the camera because she was too busy behind the camera –  documenting the happiness, the strength, and, sometimes, the pain. The woman who lost her job while we were on this trip because of a landslide in our small town, yet who set that worry and grief aside long enough to focus on the matter at hand, and do her part in preserving a piece of history. I laughed with her, I cried with her, I raged with her.

We became sisters.

cassondraSo, to Cassondra? An extra special pat on the back for you, lady.

*THIS* is what this trip was about. This is what this weekend was about. This is what that day was about. This was what that march was about.

Sisterhood.

Togetherness.

Connection.

Strength.

Love.

Determination.

We are going to be there for one another. We just are. Not just Cassondra and me. Every woman that stood there side by side in a collective love.  That day was just the start. The start of something big and beautiful.

And I will not…I repeat, NOT…let pettiness stand in my way.

There will be more stories to tell, I promise. Cassondra is a photographer and there will be photos coming that will blow you away. Her photos will tell stories that my words never could. Wait for them.

We are not through yet.

I just had to get this out while it was weighing on me.

I had to fight back against the oppression, even if it was coming from friends.

We won’t be stopped. You don’t have to understand this now. But one day you will.

One day you will.

not-over

Sign left outside a café the morning after the march in DC

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Coke

“The essence of the beautiful is unity in variety.”
–  Felix Mendelssohn

Ok.  So, unless you’ve been living under a rock since the Super Bowl aired, I’m guessing you’ve probably heard about the backlash that Coke has received for its ‘controversial’ ad aired during the game.  Didn’t see the commercial?  Well, here ya go.  Take a look:

I know I’m not going to say anything new with this blog.  Anything I have to say about my opinion on this matter has probably been said by many others.  And that’s fine.  But I still think it’s important for my voice to be heard, even amid all the others.  As Plato is quoted as saying: “Your silence gives consent.”  Well, that’s not going to happen for this girl.  I’m going to say what I have to say about the matter, and then move on.

What is the ‘controversy’ you ask?  Well, obviously, we see a video filled with people of differing nationalities, ethnicities, etc. singing America the Beautiful.  And some of our fellow Americans are saying that this is *ahhem* “un-American.”

So, first of all, I suppose I should say that I shouldn’t be surprised.  Hardly anything can happen these days without some type of controversy surrounding it, especially when it involves differences among fellow human beings (*gasp!* Heaven forbid!).  But even though I readily agree that I shouldn’t be surprised, I still have to admit that I am.  Seriously, people?  We’re still at this point?

For God’s sake, what is it going to take??

Let me ask you to do something.  Look to your left.  Now, look to your right.  And I want you to tell me what you see.  Do you see someone who looks exactly like you?  Someone who wears their hair the same way, has the same family background that you do, the same job, the same amount of money in their bank account?  Do you see someone who has the same number of children you do (or lack thereof), the same eye color, the exact same skin tone?  Does that person share your religion?  Is every single thing about them exactly the same as you?

Duh.  I’m guessing probably not.  And you know why that is?  BECAUSE WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT.  That’s just all there is to it.  We are not a world made up of robots.  The differences are wide and numerous and there’s no way I could sit here and list them all.  But here’s the thing: just because something is different, that doesn’t make it wrong.  Why is that so hard to understand for some people?

What gives anyone…anyone…the right to decide which differences are ok, and which ones aren’t?   So, the person to your left came from a lower class neighborhood than you did, and that’s ok.  But their first language isn’t English, and that’s not ok?  Which background differences are ones you’ll accept and which ones aren’t?  Aren’t you kind of playing God there, my friend?

And back to Coke.  First of all, every single one of the people in their ad was an American.  They said so.  They didn’t go to other countries to film this.  They didn’t bring people from other countries in to sing about our great nation.  No, they chose Americans.  Our friends and neighbors that make up our diverse land.  And they tried to show you the beauty that exists in that.  And why are we surprised that they did this?  One of the most memorable ads from my childhood is the one that Coke did in the 70s using the song, “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing.”  Remember that one?

Here’s a portion of the lyrics:

I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.
I’d like to hold it in my arms, and keep it company
I’d like to see the world for once all standing hand in hand.
And hear them echo through the hills for peace throughout the land.

Man. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Coke has always stuck to the theme that America is beautiful.  And it’s the diversity that makes it so.  We are supposed to pride ourselves in our acceptance of every walk of life.  Of not forcing one religion or one life path onto the millions of people who grace our land.  [Take a look at some of the other third world countries for a second if you’ve forgotten how blessed you are to live here.]  So, with the controversy that has sprung from this one commercial, what are we telling other countries?  What message are we sending to them?  And even more importantly, what message are we sending to ourselves?  To our children?

Again, like I said, I’m not saying anything that I’m sure hasn’t already been said.  I’m not changing the world and I’m most likely not changing any minds.  Unfortunately, when I type the last word on this blog and click ‘publish,’ the world will continue on as it was before…there will still be hatred, bigotry, exclusion, and hypocrisy.  I simply cannot change that.

But you know what else is going to happen after I click ‘publish’?

I am going to wrap up my work day, and then I’m headed to pick up the biggest variety of kids you’ve ever seen. Boys, girls, scholars, goofballs, white, black, geeks, jocks…you name it, I’m getting them.  And I’m transporting them all to my house for my daughter’s 14th birthday party sleepover.  We are going to eat pizza and cupcakes and watch movies and laugh until late into the night.  We’re going to sing Happy Birthday at midnight to my baby as she turns 14 (in whatever language the kids want to sing it in).  For this one night among all of the others, we are all going to come together for one purpose – to have fun celebrating a unique, talented, open-minded little teenager’s birthday.  And then tomorrow, we’re all going to go back to our separate lives.  Our separate family units, our separate religions, our separate homes.

No, I cannot change the world.  I know that.  But tomorrow as I say goodbye to this wide variety of my daughter’s friends as they return to their varied lives, I can bask in the glow of knowing that I have impacted and influenced one small part of the world.  I have raised a beautiful daughter who knows no bounds in the love she feels for those around her.  There are no exclusions when it comes to being her friend.  The more different you are, so much the better.  I have a raised a daughter that knows to look beyond outward differences, and dig a little deeper to see the heart that lies inside.

For this, I am proud.  And for this, I will continue to voice my stance on the importance of unity amid diversity.  Because I know, in the deepest part of my being, that at least one person is listening.

kelcollage

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“Even if unity of faith is not possible, a unity of love is.”
– Hans Urs von Balthasar