I'm Still With Her

I'm Still With Her

I’m still with her.

And her. And her and her.

Last Saturday marked the one year anniversary of the movement that spanned from Antarctica to Kenya, where women and men alike marched and chanted and donned their pussy hats with their heads held high. Last year, I hopped on a bus with a whole lot of nasty women. We drove 11 hours, slept sitting upright, and did not shower or brush our teeth for three days. Yet, it was the most life-changing weekend of my life.

Parking our overflowing bus in a suburb of Maryland, the train cars into the city were overflowing - each person almost nose to nose with their fellow marchers, Washington was swamped - the city was closed down due to protesters, chanting and screaming, some even singing “We Shall Overcome” and “This Little Light of Mine.”

The finale took place at the White House. As marchers congregated on the muddy grass, they laid down their signs on the dewy ground, creating a rainbow of messages.Yet, the multitude of messages were all different. Every individual had their own unique reason to walk.

A Michigan dad chanted for a more equitable future for his daughter, while a cancer patient desperate for her health care to continue shared her story. A rape victim, terrified of “locker room talk,” silently held up her sign, carrying her burden as she trudged through downtown D.C.

A year later, a different city, and still, I was in awe. The day was unnaturally warm for a Milwaukee winter afternoon, and area around the courthouse was packed as Senator Taylor bellowed Aretha Franklin’s R-E-S-P-E-C-T into the microphone.

The crowd was buzzing, and I could not help but dart my eyes throughout the crowd as I struggled to commit each unique sign to memory. As the speakers talked about race, sexuality, origin, and gender, I began to feel restless. And, suddenly I realized how important it is to feel this restlessness, this itchy, antsy feeling of helplessness.

The women who spoke at Saturday’s march were tired of waiting around. They had seen too many crime reports, heard too many demeaning and disrespectful comments and stories, and sat a little too long in the shadows of overbearing men who thought the world did indeed revolve around them. They were fed up.

With government shutdowns, talk of bombing other countries, and a removal of healthcare for the struggling, the march on Saturday also brought about a mere eighth grade girl standing behind a microphone in front of hundreds of people thirsting for a change. I can’t help thinking that I want her as my president. And with degrading talk and promises of violence and distress, has also come national marches, Time’s Up, and mentors and role models emerging from the woodwork. The 470,000 marchers in D.C. and this past Saturday showed me what democracy looks like, that being resilient and hopeful and strong does not mean guns, angry rhetoric, or putting people down.

When you feel this uncomfortable, antsy feeling, there are steps to take and actions that can result in fostering this democracy.

Write to a senator. You may think your actions are small and pointless, but if five people believe than maybe 100 people will too. Doing so is where change grows from. Have conversations with those who are different from you. Step outside your individual bubble for a breath of fresh air. Speak your mind, but be open to those with differing perspectives. Realize we are not all the same, and the first step to change may be realizing just that. Read the news. Read many different versions of the news. Read Buzzfeed, but then back up and read the New York Times. Then skim through the Chicago Tribune. Be educated, and then decide and understand what you believe in. What will you march for?

Let’s push harder. Let’s feel uncomfortable and then do something about it. Hope is what comes from a pink sea of pussy hats on a Milwaukee afternoon in late January.