People keep asking me if I am excited for this weekend. I don't know how to respond. Am I excited? No. I am everything else. I am nervous. I don't like crowds. I went to school in New Orleans and stood on Bourbon Street during Fat Tuesday once. Once. I am five foot nothing, and when I felt my feet leave the ground, I was terrified. There will be 1,000,000 people at the march in D.C., and I am still five foot nothing. I am frustrated. I don't like the cold. It is January. I will be outside. I want D.C. in spring, not winter. I am annoyed. I originally thought most of my friends would be making the trip. They are not. I am not a huge fan of busses or sleepless nights. I will be on a bus for 6 hours in the middle of the night. I am not excited. But I am going. Because I must. I will be marching with my mother. She grew up in the 60s. This will not be her first march. She marched so that I would not have to. It will be my first march. But Saturday, we will march together. Because I have a daughter. She is lovely and bright and filled with energy. She had an "awesome" day today because, I kid you not, she had a math test. This excites her. She is and will be a force to reckon with, and she will never be touched or grabbed or violated in any way, if I have anything to say about it. But I am tired of turning off the news when she enters the room. Today, her old school was on the news. She attended a Jewish Community Center school until she was in kindergarten. Today, someone called in a bomb threat. This was the case across the country, not just in our town. Friends texted me. They worried about their children, being walked across the campus. I imagined their teachers, acting silly, trying to distract them from the abrupt change in routine, trying to ensure they felt safe. My children were not there, and I felt relief, and guilt. So I will march. Because this, this new reality is not okay with me. I have watched my friends in other states post about incidents of antisemitism. In my naivety, I thought, "How sad, but not here. We will not have that sort of thing here." We pretend, you see. We are safe. We are in a blue state. I teach at a diverse school, in a diverse town. My children will never be called kikes, or find a swastika on their classroom doors. But just a week ago, someone made a swastika in the snow. It was later turned into a peace sign. But it did not negate the first iteration. This is why I will march.
I am a teacher. A good number of my students are on their way to the inauguration of a president about whom I have grave reservations. Will he protect their rights and their needs? Will he allow them to be curious, to question and contradict? Will there be security and safety for their parents who need it most? Or will he tweet away their safety? We have worked so hard to make them feel included, to feel they had a voice. Do they still? Will they always? I will march on Saturday to let them know that if I have a say, so will they. I will do what I can, what I am allowed, so that some day, they might choose to do the same. Some day, there will still be a place to make the choices that in my lifetime have remained a right. Some day, there will be a person in the White House who sees them as an equal part of this great nation, who allows them all the chance to live, to prosper, to thrive, no matter who their parents were. Someday, we will all remember that we are a nation of immigrants first and foremost, that women birthed this nation, and that children must not bear the burden of their fathers.
I am a mother, and a teacher, and a Jew. This is why on Saturday, no matter my discomfort, in spite of my discomfort, because of my discomfort, I will march. And like my mother before me, I will do so, so that they don't have to.