Why I March

January 21, 2017 was the first time in my young life that I participated in any form of a public protest. It was the first day that a lot of us had. Now, I’m not here to talk politics. But recent events were enough of a catalyst for around 3 million people nationwide in 2017, and a still-large number of participants at the approximately 200 marches held this year, to stand up and speak up for what they believe in. Both years brought out the best in some of us and opened my eyes to opinions on not “both”, but many perspectives of arguments without resolution in easy reach. So many of us gather because so many of us feel the need to be heard. And while our reasons may differ, the goal of many (and mine) remains the same: to use our voices in peaceful protest for the causes we hold close to our hearts. This is why I march. I march for my mom. I march for her recent awakenings from peaceful, rural life to bear witness to injustices that once seemed so far, so unrelatable, that affect us all; injustices that can happen across the country, across town, to her daughters, to her sons. I march for my mom, because even as she warns me not to burn my bra, I know she is proud for the future I am fighting for, not only for myself, but for us all.

For my friends, who are also finding their way in this 20-something life we’re all trying our best to live. That our views for the future become more hopeful and fulfilled. That we may become leaders.

For the educators, the scientists, the first responders, the homemakers, the students, the soldiers: the women in every industry, who have stayed silent far too long. For those brave enough to speak out about their oppression. For those brave enough to carry the weight of it alone, remaining silent out of fear of judgment, retaliation, or tarnishing their reputation that could lead them to turmoil: physically, mentally, financially, emotionally. For those who no longer have either option, because time ran out before the inequalities and injustices we are fighting against could be fully eradicated.

For the little ones, their handmade signs and their heads held high as they take part in something so much bigger than themselves, than us all; making their way alongside their guardians in a world that is making its way in fighting for a fairer future for them. I march for the possibility of my own future children, for all future children, whatever it is they choose to be, and for the rights they have yet to know or own. I march for those who have been silenced, by choice or by intimidation, all out of fear for the safety of the lives that they know, fear of being forced to accept a life of guilt or shame, of suffering or fear; a life they didn’t ask for and a life they don’t deserve. I march for the victims of sexual harassment, of domestic violence, and for those sometimes thought of as only individual pieces of data, a part of statistics that shouldn’t exist, let alone be so high.  I march for the fact that women only make up around 20% of the House and Senate, but more than 50% of the population in our country. I march for the women looking to enter jobs in local, state, and federal government - for the correct representation behind the decisions made that affect our bodies, our rights, our choices. I march for these representatives to respect the potential of their platforms for things greater than what they may have lived or known. For those of us who are capable of voting these representatives into their positions, that we may choose the ones that hold the same values as we do.

I march because it is 2018, and the ideals of some in power more so resemble the ideals held in 1918. I march for those who may no longer feel welcomed or at home in our country, even if they have lived here most (if not all) of their lives, and that they may recognize that the things easily heard are not the things the majority would say. I march for the rights of people of color, of immigrants, of those who are disabled, of members of the LGBTQIA+ community. I march so that underrepresented groups have the chances to express their relevancy as they deserve.

For the little ones, the grown-up ones, any race, ethnicity, sexuality, creed – the defenseless, who cannot yell loud enough on their own as injustices are committed, but who will yell alongside thousands of others, ensuring that their yells finally be noticed, be felt, be heard.

In January, I woke up on a cloudy Saturday morning and participated in something much greater than myself. So many of us did. The key is not to limit ourselves to that once-a-year occasion, but instead, persevere - to speak, act, and take the steps to ensure a brighter future. It is our responsibility to get in the driver’s seat, sit behind the wheel, and drive. I think we’re headed in the right direction. I march for myself. I march for solidarity, for resistance, for change. I march for us all.