March On! Texas

Author: Lisa Traugott

6 Months After I Didn’t March

6 Months After I Didn’t March

“Where were you on the day of the Women’s March?”  It’s going to be one of those snapshot-in-time questions like, “Where were you on 9/11?”  This week, as we pause to reflect about unified civil disobedience, pink pussycat hats and a day of power, I’m almost ashamed to admit where I was:

Having a panic attack on a treadmill.

I had donated to Hillary’s campaign, but didn’t put a sign up on my lawn (too risky).  Half my family voted for Donald Trump and were openly gloating about it to the point where I stopped answering my text messages.

For decades I’ve been voting and everyone knows that you win some, you lose some; this was the first time ever though that I’ve felt scared by the outcome.  Yes, I was pro-Hillary, and although saddened that we didn’t make history with the first woman president, that’s not why I was crying on election night and hyperventilating on inauguration day.  I was (am still!) legitimately frightened that Donald Trump is in charge of the nuclear codes.

Who knew what things white supremacist Stephen K. Bannon was whispering into Donald Trump’s ear and how that would translate into law?  If Trump’s campaign rhetoric was true that would mean that he has a rubber stamp to pass his unconstitutional Muslim ban, reinstate “stop and frisk”, stop supporting the Paris Climate Accord, overturn Roe v. Wade and build that wall.  And with conservatives’ majorities in both chambers and now the Supreme Court too to rubber stamp his ideas, would I even recognize my own country four years from now? 

And then something wonderful happened.  Pictures of the Women’s March…in TEXAS…started entering my newsfeed.  People participated across the globe in the millions and even in Texas!  Suddenly I didn’t feel so alone anymore.  I wasn’t brave enough to go to the march, but they did.

Photo c/o Kristi Wright Photography

I remember reading in history class about peaceful protests and civil rights movements and wondering what I would do if I were in that situation.  Would I get involved or stay safely silent?  On the day of the Women’s March I went through some extreme vetting of my own morals and decided it was time for me to speak up. 

I went to a digital organizing class for Progressives, where I met Melissa Fierro who organized the march in Texas, shattering Texas history that day with 100,000 participants.  There was so much energy she and a group of volunteers formed March On! Texas to keep up the momentum.  March On! Texas has a mission to educate, motivate and activate women to help speak out for issues important to us and to help elect Progressives at the local level. 

Since volunteering with them, I’ve regained a sense of power and optimism that was crushed during the entire campaign season.  Some of the things I participated in included:

·         Blue Ribbon Lobby Day – groups of us got to meet with our representatives at the state capitol and talk about local legislation that was important to us, including women’s reproductive rights, public education and health care. 

Blue Ribbon Lobby Day

·         Help craft and send out weekly marching orders that gave three actions to do that week to help promote our Progressive agenda.

·         Wrote letters to both senators and did a blog post explaining how healthcare directly impacted me and my family and encouraged others to do the same.

·         We asked people throughout the state of Texas to send us names of Progressives running for local elections.  Marchers identified over 70 names, 45 of them women!  One volunteer created an interactive map that linked to candidates’ websites to get the word out.

·         We reached out to the candidates, encouraged people to attend meet-and-greets, volunteer, fundraise, and of course get out there and vote!  16 progressive candidates won, which is a step in the right direction, and also shows us how much further we need to keep going.

Beto O’Rourke with March On Texas women

·         Volunteers supported other groups by sharing events on our calendar and attending marches and information sessions.  If you attended a march for the environment, LBGTQIA, Muslim rights, civil rights, town halls and/or reproductive rights chances are you met someone from March On! Texas there too.

·         In the day of “fake news” and “alternative facts” we have strived to share accurate information through our Facebook page from credible sources and blog posts educating and inspiring people to learn more about local politics and how we can make a difference.

·         We strive to share stories of everyday activists, feminist powerhouses and artists standing up for values we believe in.

The New Activists

So, my message to anyone out there who didn’t march on that day is that you can still make a difference!  Don’t beat yourself up for missing out on one march, because that was yesterday and this is today.   Life is full of small choices you make each and every day and I hope you choose to join us in supporting local Progressive candidates and fighting for women’s rights, equal rights and an inclusive American society.  Let’s make Texas blue again!

March on, y’all!

What’s the #NRA2DOJ Women’s March About?

What’s the #NRA2DOJ Women’s March About?

You may or may not have heard about the #NRA2DOJ Women’s March to take place this weekend in Virginia.  Here are some facts about it:

The Women’s March in Washington D.C. happened the day after President Trump’s inauguration and inspired sister marches around the world.  The march was organized around Martin Luther King Jr.’s principles of non-violent civil protests.  If you attended the march, or saw pictures from it, you viewed millions of women, men and children peacefully marching and holding up signs that promoted unity.

Part of this unity includes standing up for principles progressives believe in, including racial equality.

On July 6, 2016, Philando Castile, an African American school employee, was pulled over by police officer Jeronimo Yanez in Minnesota for a routine traffic stop.  When Castile mentioned to the police officer that he had a gun in the car (which he had a permitted license to carry) he was shot, even though he was following Yanez’s instructions to show his driver’s license.   His girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her four-year-old daughter were in the car with him to him.  Reynolds live-streamed the aftermath on Facebook, as Philando moaned next to her.  He died 20 minutes later in the hospital.  (Officer Yanez was since acquitted of all charges.)

The NRA (National Rifle Association) is usually very vocal about the right to bear arms, their stated mission.  But in this particular instance, when a black man with a gun permit was shot by a police officer, they said absolutely nothing in his defense.

The Women’s March called the NRA to take action on this point.  Soon after, the NRA posted a right-wing activist ad that promotes an “us vs. them” scenario implying that progressives marching for civil rights are violent and a threat.  You can see the ad here:

“In response, Women’s March co-president Tamika Mallory penned an open letter to the NRA calling for the ad to be removed and an apology to be issued to the American public for the false and inflammatory rhetoric.  Instead of distancing themselves from the vitriol, the NRA responded by releasing a new video attacking Tamika and other leaders personally and doubling down on the implied call to arms. This is the kind of incendiary speech that leads to acts of hate and violence, and it is unequivocally meant to create a chilling effect on communities speaking up and using the power of our collective voice.” (Letter from the Women’s March).

After that, the Women’s March decided to organize a peaceful protest to demonstrate the following things:

On July 14th & 15th, Women’s March and partners will mobilize a mass demonstration, again grounded in the principles of Kingman nonviolence, to denounce the false and intimidating rhetoric of hatred and send a clear message that our movement will proudly and bravely continue to strive for the respect of the civil and human rights of all people.

Here are the details of the #NRA2DOJ March:

For more details you can go directly to their website here: WomensMarch.

The New Activists

The New Activists

We range from college students to women who marched in the 1960’s.  We are mothers and millennials and nasty women.  And if you call us “snowflakes” we’ve got news for you:

Winter is Coming.

Most of us were fans of politics, but we never really got in the game.  We might donate money to a candidate, but never walk the block for them.  We might post a meme on Facebook, but never actively engaged with our neighbors.  Not really.

Not until Donald Trump became President Trump.

And then we marched.  And then realized that marching wasn’t enough.  March On! Texas started as a sister march but it has grown since then.  Our goals are to go local and focus on how we can turn Texas blue again.

The New Activists

Did you know that Texas used to be led by Democrats?  Despite the gerrymandering done after the 2010 census, a lot of us still exist.

On election night we progressives in the shadows were hoping to shatter the glass ceiling for that highest, hardest wall; instead we were shattered to find that despite losing the popular vote by 3,000,000, Donald Trump became the leader of our country.

He bragged about sexually assaulting women.  He openly discriminated against Muslims, immigrants, the disabled and people of color.  His foreign policy changed with the wind, he put white supremacists, climate-change-deniers and people with zero experience in positions of power, and his son Don Jr. just tweeted out an email chain showing his campaign loved the idea of getting dirt on Hillary Clinton directly from the Russian government.

All this could have left us collapsed and destroyed, believing that the system is rigged and we are powerless, but on the contrary we are stronger.  Democrats were broken but the new Progressive activists are rising up empowered.

  • Our notions of just donating money and hoping for the best are shattered.
  • Our excuses for not getting involved are shattered.
  • Our trust in leaving it up to someone else has been shattered.

We are the new activists.

We love our country.  We are putting ourselves on the line and we will not stop until we see progressives and moderates back in power.

And we need help from people like you.

For more information, please go to our website www.MarchOnTexas.com.

March on y’all!

Civility

Civility

By Melissa Fierro

Civility… It’s a two-way street.  Bitch, slut,  pig she was bleeding from wherever,  low IQ, crazy.  Words we hear nearly every day coming from  our president.  Not presidential?  No.  Language of the gutter?  Yes.  Exclusive to Donald Trump?  Not by a long shot.

We are appalled and outraged at the low level of discourse our president seems to think is okay.  He is president of the United States of America!  He should hold himself to a higher moral standard!  He should set a better example for our children! But what level of moral standard do we hold ourselves to?  What kind of example are we setting for our children?

Everyday I see posts on Facebook making pejorative comments about Kellyanne Conway’s looks or calling her a bitch.  Ivanka Trump is  a bimbo, slut or worse.  Sarah Huckabee Sanders is a fat cow or stupid.  And the president is called names so vile that if our kids said it, we would ground them for a month.  People in glass houses better be careful of throwing stones.

Cartoon by Darrin Bell

Now don’t get me wrong.  I am not trying to preach or get on my moral high horse.  I can’t stand the sight of Donald Trump.  The sound of his voice makes my skin crawl. (And for those of you who know me, I have the mouth of a sailor.)  And I have been guilty of every single thing I mentioned above.

But I started recognizing the hypocrisy of being appalled at those on the right for doing or condoning what I was guilty of doing myself.  And I realized when I heard my husband call a woman on the right something unsavory my blood pressure would rise and I found myself defending them.

Why?

Because we cannot expect more from others than we expect from ourselves.  A simple truth most of us forget in our horror and anger at what is being done to our country.  And the manner and style in which DJT chooses to do it.  But, as Michelle Obama famously said and has so often been quoted, “When they go low we go high.” Let’s go high people.

Beat them at the polls, not at their own game.

Um, I Agree With Ted Cruz?

Um, I Agree With Ted Cruz?

At March On Texas we pretty much never agree with anything Senator Ted Cruz says or does.  Until now.

Senator Cruz is one of the reasons why Mitch McConnell pulled the Republican version of the healthcare bill from the floor without taking a vote but is trying to put it up for a vote by Friday.  The senate needs 50 votes to repeal and replace Obamacare, meaning only two Republicans could vote against it, and Senator Cruz was one who flat out said no.

Yay!

Now granted, the reasons why he said no (the bill was too generous) versus why we said no (22 million people would lose their coverage, Medicaid would be cut – kicking out old people from nursing homes and pregnant women from prenatal care, the bill would raise premiums up to five times higher than the youngest for adults in their 50’s and 60’s, it tries to dismantle Planned Parenthood and while giving huge tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans and insurance companies.)

They say that politics makes strange bedfellows and this is one of those times.  So let’s be supportive to Senator Ted Cruz and continue to tell him to vote NO for the repeal and replace bill.

In case you needed some facts (real ones, not the alternative kind) here are some highlights of what the Republican bills would do, and how it would potentially affect Texans:

  • CBO estimates 22 million people would lose their healthcare coverage.  That includes 2.6 million Texans with the number of uninsured Texans increasing by 58% by 2019.
  • Women could be charged more for insurance just for being women.  Prior to Obamacare, women in Texas were charged as much as 56% more than men for the same coverage.
  • Pre-existing conditions would either be decided directly by the states (House bill) or would allow states to request the ability to reduce essential coverage, meaning that the people who need that coverage would have to pay substantially more and insurance companies could impose lifetime caps on what they have to pay (Senate bill).
  • The oldest adults (ages 50 – 64) can be charged five times more for insurance.
  • Medicaid (insurance for the poor, disabled, kids and pregnant women) would be cut off from federal funding starting in 2020.  Approximately 4.7 million Texans, about 16% of the state’s population, rely on Medicaid for their health insurance.  The majority of Medicaid funding goes to people with disabilities.  Under this plan these services will likely be cut.
  • A one year block would be placed on Planned Parenthood reimbursement, which CBO estimates 15% of women would lose access to family planning services increasing the birth rate.  (And remember that Medicaid for the poor would also be cut, which includes care for pregnant women and newborns, and women could be charged more for insurance.)
  • If you are wealthy, according to CBO you get $563 billion in tax cuts over 10 years under the Senate bill, while the poor, pregnant, sick, elderly and disabled pay higher health costs for worse coverage.

For more information, you can read the full articles used to reference these numbers:  Who Wins, Who Loses With Senate Healthcare Bill and Defending Healthcare in 2017, What is at Stake for Texas?

The time to act is now.  This bill is set to go back to the floor this Friday.  Call Senator Cruz and pressure him to continue to vote no.  Our reasons may be different but a no vote from him will ultimately benefit Texas families.

 

5 Progressive Candidates Won in Texas Runoffs!

5 Progressive Candidates Won in Texas Runoffs!

March On! Texas wants to give a big shout-out to all progressive candidates who made it to the runoff elections this past weekend and, more importantly, to all of YOU for showing up and voting.

In the initial election last month, to recap, Marchers identified 70 progressive candidates; 11 won and 16 had runoff elections.  Just counting the winners, that’s a success rate of about 16%.  Not great, but at least 9 of those 11 candidates were women, which is success in and of itself and also this is Texas.

Here’s the news that we find particularly encouraging.  Of the 16 candidates in runoff elections, 5 progressives won!  That’s about a 31% success rate.  Now there are lots of reasons why that number may have increased, but we have to think that voter turnout played a part.

Ron Nirenberg, winner San Antonio Mayor

So again, we want to take this moment to THANK YOU for tuning in, getting friends and family to vote, and showing up yourself on election day.  It clearly made a difference.

Let’s build on this momentum.  The 2018 midterm elections are barely 500 days away.  Do you want to turn Texas blue?  Because we sure do.  There will be volunteer opportunities coming up to help register people to vote, so stay tuned for more on that.

Do you know a Progressive candidate running in 2018?  Please let us know!  Email lisa@marchontexas so we can add them to our spreadsheet.

We CAN make a difference.

March on, y’all!

 

 

When Will Texas Get Equality?

When Will Texas Get Equality?

Texas is a very supportive state…if you’re heterosexual.  But if you’re not, the Republican-led Texas legislature supports some very strong policies against you.

One such bill that passed this session allows faith-based, child-welfare service providers that contract with the state to refuse LGBTQ parents from providing a safe and loving home for thousands of kids.  Siting religious belief is not only a form of discrimination, it also denies kids a chance to join a family sooner.  How is this helping anyone?

And now that Governor Abbott has decided to hold a special session, the “bathroom” bill is sure to make another appearance.  We can expect another heated debate over which bathroom transgender individuals can use.

We at MarchOn! Texas believe that the government should not discriminate against its citizens based upon who they love or how they identify themselves.

You can show your support for the LGBTQ community by attending the Texas Equality March this Sunday, June 11, noon – 4 pm at the Texas Capitol.  For more details about this event click here:  Texas Equality March.

Show your support and show your pride!

 

5 Ways You Can Save Planet Earth

5 Ways You Can Save Planet Earth

President Trump may not care about the impact of global warming, but we at MarchOn! Texas sure do!  Like many other mayor, governors and business leaders, we’ve got to take matters into our own hands.

You may be wondering, “I’m just one person.  Can anything I do really make an impact?”  The answer is a resounding yes.  Here are five things you can do in fact.

usa – green environment concept. Photo: LoftCommunications

5 Ways You Can Save Planet Earth

  1. Watch your water usage.  Water is our most precious resource and we tend to waste it.  Turn off your faucet when you’re brushing your teeth.  Use cold water to wash your laundry when possible, and wait until you have a full load.  Switch your yard to a Xeriscape (pronounced zeer-escape), which is fancy for low-water/low-maintenance plants.  It will save water, maintenance and money.
  2. Eat less red meat.  According to a Guardian article, giving up beef could reduce your carbon footprint more than giving up your car!  Why?  Because it takes 11 times more water and 28 times more land to raise cattle than chickens or pigs.
    Photo: Nature.com

    As a nice side bonus, you will get healthier in the process.  Chicken and port are leaner meats than beef.  Not ready to give it up entirely?  Cut it down to just twice a month.

  3. Drive smarter.  Whenever possible, take public transit or ride your bike instead of your car.  Buy the most fuel efficient model available; consider a hybrid for your next purchase.  When you have errands, group them together so you are doing all of them in one trip instead of multiple ones.  Slowing down when you drive helps your fuel economy and checking your tires for proper air levels will reduce pollution and greenhouse emissions.
  4. Make your house more energy efficient.  Turn off the lights when you leave the room.  Raise the A/C temperature when you leave the house.  Close the window blinds to prevent your house from heating up in the summer.  Make sure your doors and windows have proper seals so they aren’t leaking out air conditioning or heat during the winter.
  5. Reduce, reuse, recycle.  We Americans generate a lot of trash every year.  The average person generates 4.6 pounds of trash per day!  Recycling reduces greenhouse emissions by using up less landfill space.  Take the extra time and sort your trash.  If you have a water bottle, refill it with tap water instead of buying new plastic ones.  Compost if you are able.  Go to the park or beach this weekend and pick up some trash.

We have one planet and it’s everyone’s responsibility to care for it.  Just being more mindful and making some of the small changes helps.  It’s up to us now!

Who Are Your Heroes?

Who Are Your Heroes?

A hero is usually defined as someone who acts courageously in extraordinary circumstances.  We think about the three brave men who fought a white supremacist shouting at two Muslim girls on an Oregon train; two of the men were stabbed to death while the third remains in the hospital.

We think about superheroes in comic books and movies, like Wonder Woman and Superman.  We think about soldiers facing bullets, firefighters facing flames and police officers killed in the line of duty.

But does heroism require facing death?  What about everyday heroes?  From parents, to teachers, to kids who stand up to bullies on the playground there are brave actions taken daily.

Do you know an everyday hero who you’d like to give a shout-out to?  Post their story with the hashtag #EveryDayHero on our Facebook page.  Let’s inspire each other.

 

The Complicated History of Wonder Woman

The Complicated History of Wonder Woman

Aside from Superman and Batman, Wonder Woman ranks as one of the most popular comic book heroes of our times and since the beginning she has been steeped in controversy.

Photo: Dibner Library / NMAH, SI

Perhaps you know the story the story of Wonder Woman?  Here’s a quick backstory, summarized from DC.Wikia.com:

Back in 1200 BC the Greek goddesses gathered all the souls of women murdered by men (save for one, who would become Diana) and placed them on Paradise Island where they became immortal Amazon warriors.  In the 20th century Queen Hippolyta took the soul of the unborn child of the first murdered woman, whom Hippolyta was a reincarnation of, molded some clay by the shore and turned it into a baby girl named Diana, who would one day become known as Wonder Woman.

Blessed by the goddesses, Diana was given gifts like strength, wisdom, courage and some super human powers like running fast and having a very strong threshold for pain.  She was raised by a sisterhood of badass warrior women.

One day the gods said an emissary had to be sent to the Man’s World (aka America).  Queen Hippolyta held a contest and forbid Diana to enter, but like any good rebellious daughter, she disguised herself, won the contest and went off to save the planet from a nuclear holocaust.

She was given a lasso of truth, warrior’s attire, and she also learned to pilot an invisible jet at some point.  She could hold her own against gods and monsters and had a sweet spot for Superman.

That origin story alone is enough to start a conversation at the water cooler.  But what is less know, and I daresay even more controversial, is the history of the comic character’s author, Dr. William Moulton Marston, as documented in the Smithsonian article The Surprising Origin of Wonder Woman as summarized below.

In 1933, the creator of comic books, Maxwell Charles Gaines, was under a lot of pressure from outside forces who viewed the stories as too violent for children.  He read an article in Family Circle by Olive Richard where comic books were defended by psychologist Dr. Marston as not promoting torture or violence but to inspire heroes to save the damsels in distress.  Dr. Marston not only held a Harvard degree, but was also widely credited as inventing the lie detector machine.  (Hence, we have the lasso of truth.)

Gaines decided to hire Marston as a consultant to refute claims that comics were bad for kids.

What Gaines didn’t know was that the woman who wrote the article wasn’t really Olive Richard; her name was Olive Byrne.  And she didn’t just visit Marston to write an article, she lived with him.  In 1925 she was his former psychology student and became his lover, even though he was already married to a lawyer named Elizabeth Holloway.

Marston (right) gives a woman a lie detector test while Bryne (left) records the answers. Photo: Smithsonian.com

But wait, there’s more.  He gave his wife an ultimatum: either Bryne moved in or he would get a divorce.  (Bryne moved in.)  And between 1928 and 1933 each woman had two children by him.  This was kept secret and they told people that Bryne was a widowed relative who lived with them.

That wasn’t the only secret.  Bryne’s aunt was one of the most important feminists of the 20th century, Margaret Sanger.  Margaret and Bryne’s mother, Ethyl Bryne, opened the first birth-control clinic in the United States and they were both jailed for distributing contraception, which was illegal in 1917.

Marston eventually went from being a consultant to the creator of the first female superhero, Wonder Woman.  His relationship with not one but two strong women influenced the storylines considerably.  This direct connection to the feminist movement also remained hidden.

He specifically saw Wonder Woman as the new definition of a powerful woman, breaking free of the bonds of male dominance on Paridise Island.  This explains why she tells villains she conquers, “Submit!”

Chains were a common symbol of the women’s suffrage movement, as well reproductive rights, where unwanted pregnancies were viewed as a ball and chain around the woman.

Wonder Woman in chains. Photo: Smithsonian Libraries

Sometimes the drawings crossed over into the imagery of sadomasochism and bondage, especially on Paradise Island where a lot of the kinky stuff went down.  As early as 1942 Wonder Woman ended up on the blacklist “Disapproved for Youth” because “Wonder Woman is not sufficiently dressed.”

In 1953 there was a senate committee hearing about comic books and Wonder Woman was singled out by another psychiatrist, Fredric Wertham, who believed her feminism and equality with men to be  grave for society.  After that the storylines were toned down.

Lynda Carter reinvented the character on the 1975 TV show Wonder Woman as a strong and sexy powerhouse who deflected bullets with her bracelets.

New York Times photo of Lynda Carter from 1975 pilot

Want to know another little secret?  The  years that Marston, Bryne and Holloway lived together, Bryne didn’t wear a wedding ring (polygamy was/is illegal); instead she wore…bracelets.

Wonder Woman made controversial headlines again just last year, on the 75th anniversary of her creation.  Less than two months after she was made an honorary ambassador to the UN for the empowerment of women and girls she was stripped of the title.

A petition signed by more than 44,000 people stated, “Although the original creators may have intended Wonder Woman to represent a strong and independent warrior woman with a feminist message, the reality is that the character’s current iteration is that of a large breasted, white woman of impossible proportions, scantily clad in a shimmery, thigh-baring body suit with an American flag motif and knee high boots –the epitome of a pin-up girl.”

Of course, not everyone agrees with that assessment.  Many women find Barbie dolls and Disney princesses to be symbols of inequality with impossibly thin physiques, while Wonder Woman displays power and some serious muscle tone.

On Friday, the latest version of Wonder Woman debuts on the big screen, played by Israeli actress and model Gal Gadot and (surprise!) there is another controversy.  Austin’s Alamo Drafthouse has a women’s-only viewing scheduled for this week and it sparked male outrage for reverse discrimination.  Of course as noted in Gizmodo, of the 130 comic book movies released since 1920 only 8 of them have female leads, none since 2005, so it’s hard to justify all their fuss.

What do you think?  Is Wonder Woman a strong feminist?  A blatant sex object?  Propaganda for an alternative lifestyle?  Why not start a conversation with someone about her?  It could lead to some interesting discussions.

Here is a trailer of the movie: