In a sea of pink hats and posters, alongside grandmothers, mothers, daughters, the littlest of girls and boys, fathers, husbands and brothers, with every race, gender, orientation and religion next to me, I proudly was a part of the historic Women’s March on Washington. While all stories of why people marched are vastly different, my journey to D.C. had everything to do with my unrelenting fight for compassion and intersectionality.
I do have political leanings, but my attendance wasn’t hinged on those contentious topics. I will write and call my state representatives and senators for that. I didn’t march because Hillary Clinton lost. I wasn’t there to demand that our newly minted president step down. My decision to board a bus and trek from Indiana to D.C. was strictly based on my love of people. The one topic that will make me stand and raise my voice every single time is human rights.
I am forever passionate about the freedoms this country professes that it is built upon. We can’t claim we believe in one thing but change our tune when those freedoms are asked for by people who look, love, pray or feel differently than some do. These freedoms aren’t a maybe thing. They aren’t carrots to be dangled, only given out as long as people mold themselves into copies of what is deemed acceptable. This nationalistic approach, to me, is everything we claim we are against, and it’s what will crack the foundation of this great country, yet that’s exactly what is happening. A man marrying another man doesn’t ruin the ideals of a family; it broadens it. A Muslim praying to a different god in America doesn’t deteriorate the religious foundations of the U.S.; it strengthens it. A woman leading or making her own choices doesn’t weaken our country; it emboldens it. Honoring and celebrating different races doesn’t equate to an attack on white culture; it enlightens it.
The minute I see unjust treatment towards anyone my soft heart demands action, and my backbone strengthens. The minute I see unjust treatment towards anyone it is a guarantee that I’ll take up the fight. My small stature in no way gives indication to the amount of passion I have on this topic. It’s a fight so near and dear to my heart because of what I do every single day.
Each morning, I open the door to my high school classroom. I look at the empty seats, always feeling that sacred sense of responsibility to the sweet souls who will eventually make their way into room J.12. My students are my life, and every one of them is beautiful to me. Every one of them has a different story. Each has a world of possibility in front of them, but each gets a different crack at making their dreams a reality based upon where they fall on the list of hierarchical labels set up by a chosen few. This unfortunate truth has been the driving force of my purpose and passion in and out of the classroom. Seeing many of my students’ terrified faces as promises of mandates, bans, deportations and repeals have been plastered on the news and the front page was too much for me. It was what made me pack a bag and head to Washington D.C.
The march, to me, represented America: a beautiful melting pot of differences and love. Everywhere I looked, I saw compassion, hope and determined spirit. We all were members of the only group that mattered--the human family. We laughed with each other, cried on each other, and marched for each other. There was no evil, violence or privilege. I saw it as a message to the world that when pushed against a wall, we will stand together regardless of perceived differences.
That’s why I marched.
I’d march again tomorrow and every day after for those very same reasons. I want to be on the side of history that stood up against degradation and hate. I owe it to all those who fought before me, and I owe it to all those who will follow me, especially those faces that fill the halls of my school. I will stand for them. I will use the thought of them to fight for a better world. I have no choice but to speak up.