Today I march in solidarity with women in the United States and around the world. I march because I am so damn tired of living in a patriarchal society where I am constantly criticized and stripped down simply because I am a woman. I march because as a brown woman I have been called so many names by white men, have been questioned about my ethnicity, and have been given the stereotypical label as the fiery, sexy Latina who can’t be anything more than that. I have been harassed, called a bitch numerous times, yelled at, stared at, glared at, whistled at, moaned at (yes, moaned), groped in public spaces, followed, and have been frightened and unable to do anything about this. I have been told to ignore it, don’t talk back, don’t go anywhere alone at night, and all the other excuses so that I don’t wind up hurt or worse, dead. Because really we know that is the reality. And I know that the women who have told me this have only done what they know to be right and want to protect me. And I love them dearly for that. But that doesn’t solve anything. We can’t keep abiding by these rules that we so carefully follow and only end up costing us. It needs to end NOW.
I also march for the women in my life, my family and friends, who have experienced sexual violence, domestic violence, stalking, threats of harm. Their struggles are my struggles. Their pain IS my pain. I march to end rape culture. It's never her fault, and we must stop blaming the victim. I march because 1 in 3 women experience sexual and/or physical violence in their lifetime and I know who these women are in my life. They aren’t just numbers. I lose count after a while and I realize that is when it’s time to do something about it. I march for the day that we will be recognized and our voices heard. I march even for the women who choose not to, who think we have all lost it, because still I want them to be free. Because if we aren’t all free then no one is free.
I march to honor the ancestors of the Americas. The countless women and girls who were raped and killed by the colonialist powers that invaded, not discovered, our land. I march to honor the African women who were slaves and whose bodies were sexualized, raped, and dominated by a white patriarchal society. I march for the freedom of the Black community because Black lives matter. I march for our history because this shit has got us to where we are today.
I march for the women and girls and their families who are immigrants and refugees. Who come to this country seeking a better life, a safer life, and who have their own daily struggles of being a newcomer to a new country and being discriminated against. I march against discrimination and racism, too. I march against those that say racism does not exist anymore, or that we should stop looking back at the past and “get over it”. I march because THAT is bullshit. I march in the hopes that they will recognize that one day.
And, lastly I march for the girls of our future. They are our leaders. I march for my two sisters who are younger than me. I march for their freedom and for their right to be whoever they want to be. I march for the amazing ambition and passion that I see in them. I march so they can live in a free world that respects women, that values women, that doesn’t tell them they have to try even harder and when they do they’re viewed as having too much ambition. I march for the women and girls I have met across the world who have struggled in ways that I have been privileged not to. I march for all of you ladies as I believe so deeply that love can wipe out hate, that our voices will overcome patriarchy, and that we must not stop fighting every day until that happens, even if it takes generations beyond us.
It seems odd to say that today has been the saddest day that I have ever felt in my life. It also seems odd to say that I hope I never experience a pain like this again in my life. I couldn't even fathom losing one of the closest people in my life. I know that if they suddenly went away my heart would tear in two.
But today, was a pain that I have never felt towards my country and our people. I was in a fog all morning, much like after the election. I was listening to the radio as I got ready. I couldn't believe that a marching band was playing in the background, that the people interviewed sounded...excited. I felt sick. So incredibly empty inside.
I left for work, but decided to stop and get some coffee just near my house. I overheard a man in line ahead of me say this was the worst day of his life. I know and I get it. But I only saw a man, white, with privilege. And even if he understands his privilege, (which he probably doesn't) he will still get to go on in this society without anyone stopping him, or questioning him in any facet of his day-to-day life. But still, I made an exception to feel his pain.
I got my latte and went back to the car. And as soon as I turned on the ignition the radio came back on. I forgot to turn it off. Immediately I heard him being sworn in. Taking the oath that he solemnly swears to protect our country. And that was that. Literally just 5 seconds is all it took. And I sat there as it rained on the windshield, crying, weeping, sobbing alone with the raindrops as they hit harder and harder. I felt so alone. I felt so small.
Where are we headed now? I don't know.