This blog consists of a series of letters written to my friend, a Syrian refugee who has moved into my neighborhood. We have become close friends in spite of a language barrier. Love needs no language but there are things I wish I could tell her. I write these letters in hopes that one day she will be able to read them. I share in hopes that others will follow me on this journey and learn with me along the way.
More posts available: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/author/kathleen-jacobson
My Dear Friend Safaa,
this past weekend millions of women marched in cities across the country. I have tried to explain this to you but I can see on your face that this is something that surprises you. I wonder the reason why. I think about what I know of you and I run through the possibilities. I know that as a Muslim women you practice a quiet modesty, yet I showed you pictures of loud, proud women. I could see you scanning for hijab and you found them. Muslim women did march alongside lesbians, feminists, old, young, transgender, and women of color. There were men marching too. I was in such a tight crowd made of thousands of people and everywhere I looked I saw people expressing themselves. The creativity was apparent in the signs, both funny and serious. People wore costumes and sang songs. I heard drums and chants.
The one thing that really stood out was the pink pussy hats. I felt safe to say that the real theme of these marches was an anti-Trump message. There were many other messages but most of them tied to Trump policies. I was happy to reassure you that so many Americans do not support Trumps hateful rhetoric that includes anti-Muslim speech.
I tried to tell you about the suffragettes who fount for votes for Women in America. I know their spirit was alive among these marchers on January 21st . Our group wore sashes reminiscent of the suffragettes. Mine said Expect Resistance. For me, I think of these strong fore-mothers whenever I vote. I keep a picture of Alice Paul on my shelf to remind myself of the hunger strike and forced feeding of these incarcerated women. My friend, I tell you about them because I want you to know that we can change policy. It takes persistence.
My friend, this is a great opportunity for you to see American democracy as opposed to the form of rule you endured in Syria. I know that that the protests in Syria in 2011 led to the ongoing fight and terrible bombing and destruction against the people of Syria by Bashar al-Assad and his regime.
I assure you that even if we see abuses of power in America, we can resist and we can vote. I would love to see the day when you are able to vote. I would love for you to join your voice to the chorus of women who will not accept the hate as policy.
Why I March
I am here, hear my voice
It is the echoes of Alice Paul
Susan B. Anthony and the many
who went before me.
I will be seen, I will be heard.
I march with legs that are my own
with my body that is my own
my body that I govern
that will not be regulated
or controlled by law
I march with thousands of women
We have our different reasons
but we march together.
I uphold these reasons known and unknown.
I uphold these reasons spoken and unspoken.
I march so that I will be counted
even if I am only one
I add to the many voices
and with each voice
we become louder
until we are impossible to ignore.
We call out to our leaders
Our message is this:
Hear my voice, see me march
because I am watching you
I am vigilant, I am engaged
and I vote