On Saturday, January 21st, I was proud to join the Women’s March for America in Boston, Massachusetts, in solidarity with millions of inspiring women and men across the globe. It was an invigorating experience that made me feel for the first time in months a fragile spark of hope for our future. I marched to support the rights of women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, refugees, immigrants, Muslims, and anyone and everyone that feels afraid or oppressed by our new administration. I marched because what is happening in this country right now isn’t normal and should not be normalized. But I’m also increasingly aware that politics and justice in the United States have always been far from normal or fair. I don’t really feel qualified to discuss politics. I feel like an impostor and a fraud, lacking the skills to speak authoritatively on any political subject. I’ve said this before. But I can’t be silent, even if I lack eloquence.
I’m white and I benefit from the privilege that comes with being white. I acknowledge it. I also acknowledge that there are people of color, LGBTQ folks, activists, immigrants, Muslims, refugees, and on and on that have been fighting a battle for social justice long before I have. I acknowledge that diverse voices are what we need right now. I acknowledge their stories are different than mine and I need to hear them. I want to listen to you and your anger and your sadness. I acknowledge that 53% of white women voted for our new president despite his hateful rhetoric and are complicit in not being able to see past their own self-interests and their own bubble. And quite frankly, that is some bullshit. Feminism is only useful if it is intersectional. Justice is only true if it serves ALL people, regardless of race, religion, creed, gender, sexual preference, and sexual identity. This is not a movement that should only benefit white women. This is about EVERYONE, especially those who are most vulnerable. Everyone has a different experience and that must be taken into consideration in our fight. Just because something doesn’t impact you personally doesn’t mean it’s any less of an issue. It’s very, very real for the people suffering injustice.
Often, I feel very powerless, despite the privilege I know I have. I feel very small and lacking. I’m working to educate myself and listen: to read diverse voices and accounts of American history and feminism. I’m trying to read good journalism and find the truth. I’m embarrassed that I don’t know more, that there’s been a lapse in my education when it comes to social justice, but I’m trying to fix it and become a better informed citizen and openly acknowledge my faults. I’m going to do what I can to serve all our people. And I’m sorry we failed you not just in this past election but over and over again throughout history. I’m sorry we weren’t there when you needed us. This system is so bent and twisted with systemic racism. White people are responsible for centuries of oppression, something that has never quite gone away no matter how many people want to claim that “racism is over now.” (Spoiler: It’s really, really not.) I recognize there are terrible, invisible institutions embedded in the foundation of this country that need to be confronted and dismantled before we can move forward.
It feels impossible to change people’s hearts and minds, to get them to see what they perceive as other as human. We’re all just blood and flesh and life. But people can be truly monstrous. Likewise, it’s hard to see the political right with anything other than fear and contempt, especially when it seems like all they want to do is hurt us and take away our basic rights. But the politicians serve us: the people. We are the people of this country, and people shape this nation if they are willing to work for it. And I am here to serve you, all of the people of these United States, however I can: marching, making phone calls, showing up, speaking out, calling out injustice whenever I see it, listening, learning, having hard conversations, handing out flyers. Whatever you need. I want to help.
I come to you humbly, acknowledging my privilege, and hoping for something better.
P.S. The Women’s March has put together a political agenda entitled 10 actions for the first 100 days. I hope you’ll join me in resisting and taking action together: https://www.womensmarch.com/100/.