By Karen Nelson Mangold
As I look around the social medias, I see the question “Why did you march?” being asked a great deal. I was also asked that question myself on two different occasions by reporters at each demonstration I attended.
I’ve seen attempts to answer this question – by the same people who ask it – with the arguments such as “we are whining because our candidate lost” or “we don’t understand that this is how a democracy works”.
I’ve seen people, who don’t understand the reason, be very upfront with their judgment, outrage, ridicule, and even assumptions that to march or protest also means acting violently.
These observations have made me feel that it is necessary for me to share with the world why I march so that we may come to a place of better and more peaceful understanding.
As a 50-year-old white woman who was raised with certain privileges, I will never understand what it was and is like to be marginalized in the extreme.
I will never understand how it feels to be a Black man or woman, whose legacy includes slavery, assault, death, prejudice, and bigotry simply because of the color of his or her skin.
I will never understand how it feels to be an LGBTQIA person struggling with being accepted for their sexuality and with not being allowed to freely express their love without fear of death, injury, or hatred.
I will know what it feels to be in the shoes of a Mexican who came to this country in hope of making a better life for her family, and who put hard hours of work into an job most people wouldn’t choose if they didn’t have to, and doing so with all her heart and soul because she believes in the American Dream. This can be applied to all immigrants.
I will never understand what it feels like to be a Muslim, judged based on the acts of radical religious extremists and outcast, killed, ridiculed, segregated, and considered evil.
I will never understand how it is to be a member of the Indigenous Tribes of this country, who were here on its lands first, then systematically removed by force, and then to add insult to injury, watch as their land that was given under treaty gets take away and their sacred burial grounds defaced and destroyed.
I will never understand every single other marginalized human’s experience completely because it hasn’t happened to me personally, but I CAN and do find compassion, empathy, and understanding within all of their stories.
I march for those who aren’t heard. I march for those who aren’t understood. I march for those who have died because someone else lacked that compassion and empathy and desire to understand that even though we may look and express ourselves differently, we are still one living, breathing and blessedly bleeding red blood human tribe.
I march for the patient with Obamacare and cancer, who is wondering what will to happen to her now that she can’t afford her medicine.
I march for my Mexican brother, Mauro, who I work side by side with, who sends every penny of his paycheck home to his family so they can afford to eat.
I march for my students, especially those with disabilities who will see their funding cut, who are attending struggling schools that lack the finances to adequately teach them.
I walk for the homeless – the ones that live in the woods, on city streets, under embankments, with cardboard for a bed.
I march for our veterans who serve in our unnecessary wars, who come home emotionally and some times physically broken, and are not always given the support and acknowledgement for putting their lives on the line for all of us.
I march for ALL OF US.
Because this is about ALL of us.
The Million Woman March in DC wasn’t just about women’s rights. It was about every single human’s right to have their basic needs respected and met.
It’s about making sure all have what a human being needs to survive and thrive. Like clean water, clean air, clean food, and a place to live in. It’s about making sure a human is able to walk down the street without fear. It’s about making sure someone can pray and fuck and love and share their passion and art and lifestyle and being free without ridicule, so long as they are not hurting anyone else in doing so.
I march so we may all be free from judgment. I march so that hatred ceases and love increases. I march because I want my grandchildren to inherit a world full of people who love each other.
I march because I love us all, including those who judge, who are sleeping, misguided, and afraid, and that includes our POTUS.
I march because love is who we are, and what we need, and what every one of us has the right to.
All this and more is why I march, and why I hope and pray every day that we can all do so together, only this time we march for joy.
I march because I am human, and so are you.
For more self-study, The Urban Howl recommends Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.