An open letter to those who won’t march.
Some of the women I know have registered their opposition to The March. In their view standing up for ourselves was in no way needed. And from their perspective perhaps they don’t feel a need to stand or march. You see these ladies live in that magic bubble of white mostly middle class privilege. These ladies are good people, kind people, people who you can call in the middle of the night when you are suicidal and find solace. BUT (and this is a big “but”); they do not realize, or if they do have a shallow understanding, that the world they live in does not exist for the majority of the rest of womanhood around the world and here in the United States. I can identify with these ladies I grew up in the middle class white privilege too. For 50 weeks out of the year. But those other two weeks mom and I went to South Carolina to visit her side of the family. We rode the train, there were many kinds of people on the train, but one thing I noticed was that the most important people on the train were Black. They were the porters, sky caps, cooks, and the waiters. They were the ones who helped you and took care of you and made sure your luggage got to where you needed it to be. At my grandmother’s farm there were more important people. They made sure I had milk to drink, the tobacco crop got put in and harvested and everything ran smoothly. They were Jesse and Lurleane and their 10 children who were the share croppers. And though the years I noticed something. There were separate entrances, drinking fountains, and bathrooms for these important people. When I invited the daughter of Jesse and Lurleane to come and play she wouldn’t come into the house. We had to play in the yard. When Jesse came to give the report of what happened on the farm he stood at the back door and talked with my aunt. I found that strange because being from out west, we always came right in and visited. And there were the words used to describe these important people. Negro, Colored and then finally Black. I also noticed that Jesse’s children took a different bus to school than the rest of the kids on Langston Road did. Things seemed upside down to me. But I did not know why. Not until Dr. King began to share his dream, and President Kennedy was assassinated, then his Brother Robert and finally Dr. King himself. Because of my dad’s job we went to other places on temporary assignments for him to go to school or develop and maintain the radio communication systems he built. We went to Oklahoma City where I saw many diverse people groups. We were there when JFK was shot. The Irish Catholic woman in the apartment above us camped on our couch for three day and cried. We had a TV and they didn’t. We went to Hanksville, Utah, where I learned that Mormons were OK people. In fact they were people just like me only they had a different religion. We lived a summer in Roosevelt Utah close to the reservation. I almost got a baby sister or brother out of that trip as my parents had looked in to adopting a Ute or Navajo baby. I grew up with Mexican people in the Spanish community in my town as well. Diversity was all about me. I just had not known what I was looking at. Then the big one came on the scene, the ERA. The Equal Rights Act put the plight of women on the map politically and ethically. It highlighted the disparity of pay, of availability of birth control and other health serves for women. We are still without protection in these areas under the constitution. From 1972 to 2017, 45 years, women have been formally marginalized by the U. S. government and the business community. My mother worked for less than her male counterparts and did a better job. But she was a woman so paying her the same was not going to be an option.
This is why we march. It is not just about reproductive rights though that is a major component of our complaint. It is about many other rights that have been denied us. We as women are entitled to the same freedom our male counterparts are. That includes being paid what they are paid for the same work position that includes being able make decisions for our future that benefit us and our community. As a woman I chose to have my children, I could afford to do that. I chose to stay at home and educate them, I could do that because of my white privilege. And help from my parents. Not everyone had that kind of support even in my own family. I count my lucky stars every night. But, in many ways I represent those who have been marginalized as well. I am a woman, I am single, I am gay, I have a disability and I don’t make enough to make it without government assistance even though I have two degrees and many years of experience in education and work a full time job. I am also a senior citizen.
As a mother I have not had to caution my son’s on how to act in public because of their skin color. I have not had to caution them about how loud their music is in the car. I have not had to caution them about owning a gun, or where they could go or who they could date. But as a mother and a woman I have heard rude comments from men made to my daughters because one of them was tweaking her hairdo in a mirror at the mall. I have been told of incidences of men yelling rude comments to my daughter while she walked to her car from work. As an employee of the public school system I have seen the shock and fear on the faces of young girls when their male counter parts whooped it for the winner of our recent election, a misogynist, racist man. These young white privileged boys who have no clue. But the girls are already showing some reserve, especially those with brown skin. I have seen that bit of caution creep in.
As a gay woman I don’t feel safe anymore. I won’t be able to be true to myself in that part of my life in public. As someone who works with people who are disabled and who has friends who are disabled in some way I feel very concerned about their welfare. Will there by funding for the services they need? As a senior will my social security be tampered with? Will I have the assistance I need to help with the heating bill? Will I have Medicare and Medicaid to help with my medical needs? You see I don’t make enough to buy insurance that is offered through my work. I could go on but I think you get the idea.
We have gone from an atmosphere of inclusion, to exclusion in the blink of an eye. Life doesn’t feel safe anymore. And we must remember that in order for women to vote in any election someone marched. Those women who voted for racism, misogyny, inequality on so many levels you can sit in the comfort of your privileged bubble.
But the rest of us?