Before you read this, all I really want you to do is watch CNN’s video, The Women’s March: How a moment became a movement. There’s really no need to read my personal anecdotes, but feel free.
Today is the 1 year anniversary of the #WomensMarch. I was so sad I won’t be able to march because I have to work today, but it’s okay. Here’s why.
Because I’m a woman and this movement is about women, it’s easy to take ownership of it. I think about the first time I felt the oppression that comes with being a girl. I was in elementary school, probably 2nd or 3rd grade. Every day at recess, my best friend Kylie and I just wanted to play soccer. Every day we tried, but the boys would never pass us the ball. On the rare occasion that the ball was passed to me, you better believe I shoved everyone out of my way, ran as fast as I could, and shot the ball at the net with all of my strength. Because I had to prove myself, because I was a girl.
It was SO clear to us that it wasn’t because we weren’t “good” at soccer (cause we WERE, and we were a lot better than some of the boys that actually got to play!!!!). The boys didn’t pass us the ball because we were girls. We knew it then, we know it now.
Kylie and I probably cried lots of frustrated tears, yes. But YOU ARE SO WRONG IF YOU THINK OUR HARDCORE TINY SELVES DID NOT TAKE THIS ISSUE TO THE ADMINISTRATION AND DEMAND JUSTICE FOR GIRLS ALL OVER SUNNY SANDS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. We complained and complained and stood our ground until they DEDICATED EVERY WEDNESDAY TO GIRL’S SOCCER ONLY!!! Yes, that’s right – every Wednesday at Sunny Sands Elementary School, not a single boy was allowed on the soccer field. VICTORY!!! (Not that it was our intention to kick the boys off the field completely, but the fact that they didn’t know a good soccer player when they saw one was their own issue.)
I have no clue how our tiny minds knew that this was so important and so wrong. I have no clue where those little girls gained the courage to keep fighting instead of backing down and just playing on the swings instead. We were badass 8 year olds, no?
Anywayzz, there’s a cute little story for you. But let’s get to the point: this moment is not about me. This moment is not even just about women. This moment is about letting all oppressed peoples be heard. It’s about sitting down, being quiet and letting their voices be the loudest for once. It’s about acknowledging my privilege instead of jumping on the bandwagon just because I’m a girl and the shoe fits.
It only make sense that in this moment, “the people closest to the pain are the people who should be closest to the solution”. Let’s let the DREAMers tell us what they want to do about immigration instead of thinking we have the answers. Let’s make sure that if we are so quick to call ourselves allies, we actually hear how the LGBTQ community struggles, or what victims of sexual assault really need.
I can’t march today, but I can show up for the marginalized all year long, in the small moments, in the work that I do and in the conversations that I have. And a lot of times I’m going to fail. A lot of times my privilege will go unnoticed, I will be ignorant, and I won’t be the ally that the marginalized need and deserve, but I’m going to try my best to get better at it – at sitting down, shutting up and being an ally.
I couldn’t have said it better than the incredible Bob Bland: “For a lot of white women who were not really apart of these movements or conversation, we didn’t realize how we were upholding the system of white supremacy through our lack of acknowledgement of our privilege. The best way that I can be a leader as a white woman in this movement is by not centering myself. By ensuring that I am there to uplift voices from marginalized communities that haven’t been heard in so long,”
All of this makes me think of Ronald Reagan’s address on MLK’s birthday to high schoolers in 1987 –
“You should accept nothing less than making yours a generation free of bigotry, intolerance and discrimination. If I may be presumptuous enough to offer this suggestion – a good place to start… is to be totally intolerant of racism anywhere around you. If someone, even a friend, uses an ugly word referring to another’s race or religion, let’s make it clear that we won’t put up with it.”
I share this quote not because I think it’s profound – it’s not profound. I share this quote because these were the words of our Republican President in 1987. Our leadership has taken steps backward. What are you, we – what am I going to do about it?
So here I am, writing about other people’s thoughts and some quotes I grabbed from a 30 minute video. This. means. absolutely. nothing. It’s like Tamika Mallory, the co-chair of the Women’s March (and serious boss) says, “Too often, this whole idea of ‘movement’ means ‘I tweet something’ That’s not the movement. The movement is the struggle. That means going into the belly of the beast.” My words probably mean nothing. I’ve probably gotten this all wrong and made so many errors already. Even by writing about it, am I already centering myself? So let’s keep this conversation going. Let’s give light to the leaders and thinkers that actually know what they’re talking about. Please, share, discuss.
When people show up to the march, it creates a moment. When we show up every day for the people who need it, it creates a movement.
We all still have so much to learn. That means we all have so much more listening to do. To listen is a privilege. Let’s never forget that to be an ally is a privilege.