I want to tell y’all about my mom. Like most women I know, the older I get the more I appreciate her and everything she has done to help me become the woman I am. Now, I don’t know if she directly set out to raise a feminist or activist, but she most definitely played an invaluable role in helping me become the person I am today.
My mom taught me what it meant for a woman to be an equal in the home and also run her own business. She taught me the importance of being aware of politics. She taught me the importance of voting. She taught me the importance of giving back and being a productive and active member of your community. I don’t remember her directly talking to me about any of these things, she always taught me through example.
On November 8th, there was no one I would have rather spent election day with than my mom. Before the results came in we sat around the kitchen table talking about how far women have come just from her generation to mine and what it would mean for us to have a woman president.
I don’t have to tell y’all what happened next. We were devastated, to say the least.
The day after the election I was having a hard time finding a reason to get out of bed and go to school. My mom reminded me that if I stop trying, that’s when they truly win. I had to keep learning, working, and doing all of the things I wanted to do, to show them I couldn’t be stopped.
In a clip from Late Night with Seth Myers, Amber Ruffin beautifully summed up this concept when she said –
“By doing what you do every day you prove to them that you are unstoppable. They can spend their time trying to pass laws to take way your rights and silence your voice but all you have to do is live your lives right in their faces and it proves to them that we simply cannot be stopped.”
When I heard about the Women’s March on Washington I wanted more than anything to be there, but knew it would be highly unlikely that I would be able to make the trip. I have a fair amount of activist experience and had organized rallies and marches in the past, so I started making a list of people to contact to start planning a Women’s March on Austin.
Later that very day I got on Facebook and saw I was not the first with this idea, an event page had been created. Shortly after I had a conversation with Melissa Fiero and joined the planning committee.
We were a group of strangers and in less than 50 days we organized what ended up being the largest protest in Texas history. We hoped for a few thousand marchers and final estimates reached 100,000. We could have never predicted such an amazing, warm, peaceful, and uplifting turn out. It was everything we dreamed of and so so much more. Thank you, to all who marched, for far beyond exceeding our expectations.
The day of the March, once again, there was one person I wanted by my side. My mom. She was so excited to be there. But the night before she called to tell me she had to go in for emergency eye surgery for a detached retina. As soon as it occurred to me that this meant she couldn’t march with me, my heart was broken. No matter how she tried to find a way around it, she was on specific doctor’s orders NOT to attend the march under any circumstances. Since we weren’t going to be able to take a photo together at the march, we took a picture together with signs the night before and she made me promise to still enjoy the march as if she was there.
The day of the march I was in the front with the banner and the dignitaries welcoming and directing marchers as they arrived. I had been focusing my attention towards the capitol and when I turned around to look down congress, I was completely blown away by what I saw. There was a flood of people filling the street walking north, towards the capitol. I immediately started jumping up and down, hugging my fellow organizers, and yelling, “there’s a march TO The March!!”
Then I looked to the east on 11th street and saw another flood of people. I looked west on 11th street, and it was the same scene. That was when it hit me how amazing and monumental this things we were doing was. We were truly making history. It was the happiest and most proud moment of my life.
For a moment I stood there, watching the wave of people walking towards me, and I shed a few tears. Overwhelmed by the love, support, and hope I felt from the people surrounding me and wishing my mom was there to see this absolutely majestic sight. Before that moment, I had many reasons for marching, from justice for sexual assault survivors, to my future children. But in that moment, I decided that above all, I was marching for my mom, and everything she taught me.
Since the Women’s March I have loved hearing stories of people’s experiences at the March. I can’t tell you how many women have told me “that march brought me back to life.” One woman told me that she hadn’t left her house since the election because she was so scared and depressed and when she went to the march she saw that she was not alone. That is what we at March On keep hearing over and over – “I thought I was the only one.”
You are not alone.
After the election it would have been too easy for me, or any of us, to fall into a deep depression. And don’t get me wrong, it’s been hard, very hard, but my mom’s advice to keep working and keep doing what I do, no matter what, has kept me going. Planning the Women’s March gave me something positive to focus my energy into. It showed me the good in people, instead of being sucked into the bad.
The satisfaction you get from being involved in an issue you are passionate about is not something I currently have the words to describe.
So, I challenge you – decide what you are most passionate about. Is it women’s reproductive rights? Is it immigration rights? Is it electing progressive candidates to public office? Whatever it is, find a way to get involved. See for yourself just how satisfying, uplifting, and empowering it can be.
My mom has always taught me to find the bright side or the silver lining in bad situations. Without a doubt, my silver lining of the unexpected results of the 2016 presidential election is the number of everyday people it has motivated into political action.
Now is your time. Now is our time. To have a say in what happens next. To be the change. Don’t miss your chance, get involved, in whatever way that means for you.
March On! Texas!