March On! Texas

Author: Lisa Traugott

To March or Not to March…that is the question!

To March or Not to March…that is the question!

By Melissa Fierro

Photo c/o Kristi Wright Photography

 

Marchers,

Many of you have reached out, wondering if March On! Texas is sponsoring a Women’s March on Austin 2018. We have discussed this at length over the last few weeks and we have decided the answer is no. And we wanted to share the reasons with you.

The Women’s March 2017 was the largest global march in history and the Austin sister march was the largest protest in Texas history— over 100,000 women (and men) strong.

The Women’s March in Austin. Photo By Mike Holp Photography

The Women’s March was a special moment in time.  It gave hope to others that we were not alone in resistance to the racism, sexism and xenophobia that Trump and members of the alt-right supported. It brought together millions across the globe in a perfect alignment of peace and protest.

But can it be repeated? Or should it be? Our belief is no for several reasons:

  • It was a perfect moment of energy and purpose that is not likely to be recreated. While we love that there are marches taking place around the country and in Texas, March On! feels it is best to let the 2017 Austin March stand as the single largest protest in Texas history.
  • This movement is strong and people have turned their energy to the next steps in the March. Namely, resisting more directly the actions of this administration and working to elect progressive candidates at all levels to effect long term change in our country.
  • Cost and manpower to conduct an event of this type correctly is enormous. Cost alone for the 2017 March was approximately $45,000. Not to mention the six weeks of long days and worried nights. We feel that effort is better directed towards the next steps.

Instead, in conjunction with the national March On sister march organization, we are working on March to the Polls 2018. The national goal is to register one million women to vote prior to the 2018 elections. We will be providing you with information on voter registration events, progressive candidates in Texas and volunteer opportunities for candidates.

But fear not! Want to put feet to pavement? There are intrepid folks out there who are hosting an anniversary Women’s March that you can join! Here are the one’s we know about and we will post on Facebook if we learn about others.

 

Dallas

https://www.facebook.com/events/376274512824608/

 

Houston

https://www.facebook.com/houstonwomensmarch/

 

Fort Worth

https://www.facebook.com/events/331771077231166/

 

Denton

https://www.facebook.com/events/202461976965495/

 

Nacogdoches

https://www.facebook.com/Womens-March-January-20-2018-341941259604698/

 

Brownsville

https://www.facebook.com/events/2048044305442878/

 

Austin area group headed to Dallas march

https://www.facebook.com/events/1984271928460496/

 

Austin Roe V Wade rally

https://www.facebook.com/events/322881921517712/

 

Whatever you do in 2018, make sure to put RESIST and VOTE at the top of your list of resolutions!

Blue wave 2018!

Melissa Fiero

Women’s March on Austin – March On! Texas

A Year After Trump We Scream Why…not?

A Year After Trump We Scream Why…not?

There is an event planned for this evening, across 9 major cities, to scream into the sky helplessly ‘WHY!?!’ to commemorate the anniversary of Donald Trump upsetting politics (and sanity) winning the presidential election a year ago today.

The concept is ridiculously silly and funny, and might be a fun thing to do over cocktails bitching about Trump’s latest tweets.  Yelling ‘why’ is cathartic, like reading Shattered or the damning excerpt of Donna Brazile’s new book in Politico.  Sometimes it’s good to take stock and figure out what went wrong.

But if yesterday’s election in Virginia told us anything, it’s that it’s time for Progressives to ask a new question: Why not?  As in, “Why not run?”

Many women (and men) choose not to run for election because they think they lack the typical qualifications: years in politics, a law degree, a spotless background.  Donald Trump, bless his heart, proved that none of that really mattered.  What mattered was connecting with your base and getting them to show up on election day, the one day that matters most.  In terms of competence, Trump has set the bar so low that many novices now have the confidence to say, “Well, I might not know the elected job yet, but I know I’ll do a better job than him!”

A more likely scenario though is that women who are incredibly smart, capable and qualified have become motivated to get in the game.  They have been affected viscerally by Trump’s sexism, racism, xenophobia and bad policies and no longer feel that they can remain on the sidelines.  They answered the call:  You marched; now run.

Lou Leon Guerrero, left, and Monica Chinchilla, center, were among 41 women from 12 states who participated in a bootcamp on Oct. 21 in Washington, D.C., held by Emerge America to help train them as candidates for 2018 and 2020. Guerrero is running for governor of Guam, while Chinchilla plans to run for the San Francisco Board of Education. Kristian Hernández/Center for Public Integrity

Since January there has been a surge of women signing up to campaign for positions big and small and the new feminist activism has been record breaking.    Last night in Virginia 15 seats flipped from Republican to Democrat, and 11 of those were by women.

The transgender community also asked, “Why not?” and made history.  Danica Roem became the first transgender woman to win a House of Delegates seat in Virginia.  What made that even sweeter was that she defeated Del. Bob Marshall, the Republican incumbent who refers to himself as the state’s, “chief homophobe” and has consistently promoted anti-LGBT legislation, including a bathroom bill.

Trans woman Andrea Jenkins was the first transgender person elected to a major city’s governing body (Minneapolis) and the first trans person of color elected any office in the U.S. Charlotte elected its first female African-American mayor, Sheila Oliver became the first woman of color elected lieutenant governor of New Jersey, Ravi Bhalla became the first Sikh mayor in Hoboken history, and in Georgia’s House of Representative two seats that were so Republican they went uncontested in 2016 just flipped to Dems, because Why not?

Here at home, March On! Texas was following 15 local races across the state and guess what?  Progressives won 10 of them!

It was the kind of progress for women, minorities of all stripes and progressive ideals we hoped and allowed ourselves to dream would happen last year.  Last year that dream was shattered.  Last year we screamed at the sky helplessly, ‘Why!?!’

Today we ask ourselves a better question.  Why not?  The answer is worth shouting for joy.

March on, ya’ll

 

 

Hurricane Resource Guide

Hurricane Resource Guide

Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston, the Gulf Coast cities and the rural areas between them.  We know that many of you are going through tough times.

There’s a lot of information out there, so we hope that this resource guide helps.  It’s broken into sections with links to websites, apps and articles that may be useful.

Travel

Which roads are closedHouston Traffic TrackerPort Aransas, Beaumont    

Where do I find GasGas Buddy

Are the airports openHouston AirportHouston Hobby Airport, Corpus Christie Airport,  Dallas/Ft. Worth International, Dallas Love Field, Austin-Bergstrom, and San Antonio International all up and running.

Links to Airline Traveler Waiver info: United, Southwest, American, Jet Blue,  Alaska Air, Frontier

My Home Is Flooded.  Now What?

File a claim with FEMA:  Hurricane Harvey/FEMA

Tips for Harvey Survivors, From Those Who Lived Through Sandy https://nyti.ms/2gqRoV8

Info for flood clean up:  What to do after a flood

How Can I Help?

There are lots of churches and charities helping with donations.  Here are just a few.

Red Cross – Hurricane Harvey

Local to Austin – Make Welcome Kits

Donate new underwear:  Undies For Everyone

Pets:  SPCA of Texas

If you lived through Harvey, we are so happy that you are safe now and will continue to post updates.

Hang in there.

That Time I Rallied Against Nazis

That Time I Rallied Against Nazis

In the wake of the horrific protests of Charlottesville and the implied encouragement of white supremacists by President Trump in his impromptu press event on Tuesday, activists across every spectrum have been hitting the pavement, holding signs and letting their voices be heard.

Today at Austin City Hall there was the Rally Against White Supremacy.  It was non-violent and speakers with diverse backgrounds discussed ways to take action to promote greater equality in our country.

Rally Against White Supremacy

Activists from the Black, Latino, Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Transgender and White communities spoke, as well as Congressman Lloyd Doggett and Mayor Steve Adler, which we live streamed on our Facebook page.

One speaker from Black Lives Matter challenged everyone at the rally to not feel good about just showing up and holding a sign, but to really promote change by seeking more budget money in marginalized communities and holding elected officials accountable or work hard to replace them with better ones.

Several speakers reminded everyone to be active bystanders; if you see someone bullying a minority speak up!

March On! Texas members Simone Laurent, Lisa Traugott and Sylvia Holmes

“Isms” (racism, sexism, classism, etc.) has always been with us, but under the leadership of President Trump the fringe hate groups feel like they have a friend in the White House and that it is suddenly now okay to try to turn on our neighbors.  It’s not.

One rally isn’t going to change the world, but it’s a step in the right direction.  At March On! Texas we encourage everyone to become everyday activists.

Tolerance can and should be taught to our youngest citizens at local schools.  Did you know that 12 districts are having local school board elections in November?  Here are some reasons why that’s important and why everyone should vote:  School Board Elections

To find out other progressive events around the state, checkout our website www.MarchOnTexas.com.

Do you want to get involved, volunteer and help progressives win local elections where they can have the biggest impact?  Learn more here.

Every day try to do something that makes the world a better place.

March on, y’all!

 

The Importance of Schools and Tolerance

The Importance of Schools and Tolerance

This week (every week?) has been filled with distractions from the Executive branch.  I heard a comedian once liken Donald Trump to a monkey in a theatre flinging feces at the audience so no one would pay attention to the actual play going on.

His divisive remarks about Charlottesville, saying that somehow the “alt-left” was partly to blame for Neo-Nazis and the KKK causing chaos leaving three people dead, is dangerous but unsurprising from him.  We all knew what he really thought about diversity.

Once again, we must look to ourselves for leadership.  One of the most eye-popping articles I read was about a father repudiating his 30 year-old son in his local newspaper for joining the alt-right/white supremacists rally:  He didn’t learn this at home.

Another article that connected with me was an interview with the former high school teacher of James Alex Fields Jr., the man who used his car to strike counter protesters killing one and injuring 19.  The teacher said that Fields was bright but misguided and handed in a paper basically glorifying Nazi views.  The teacher felt like he failed because he wasn’t able to counter this young man’s skewed views.

Sierra PTO

These two articles resonated with me because it brings back the importance of making sure our students are educated with facts and not revisionist history distorted from the dark corners of the alt-right internet.  The information that young men and women fill their brain with matters.

While no one has control over the world wide web, we do have a say in the text books they read. That’s why there was such an uproar in 2015 when the Texas Board of Education approved textbooks that said Moses was a Founding Father and slaves were “workers” from Africa.  Now, more then ever, it is important that we teach tolerance and truth from a very young age.

After this weekend’s events many were left asking, “How can I get involved?  What can I do?”  Let’s think local.

There are 12 school districts that have seats open on their school boards.  These districts include: Houston, Klein, Leander, Los Fresnos, New Caney, Schertz-Cibolo, Spring, College Station, Aldine, Alief, Bryan and Cypress-Fairbanks.

Wouldn’t it be great if these school boards had some progressive candidates elected to them?  The deadline to file candidacy is Monday, August 21.

Know someone that lives in a district that would be great candidate? Share this post with them or tag them in it!

We must do what we can at the local level to ensure that tolerance is taught to the greatest assets we have, our children.

March on y’all

P.S. – If you do know a progressive running, please email lisa@marchontexas.com.  We’d love to hear and help!

 

I Feel Like I’m In An Episode of Game of Thrones

I Feel Like I’m In An Episode of Game of Thrones

Do you remember the good old days when people at the office water cooler spoke about Kim Kardashian?  I miss that fluffy gossip of no consequence.

Today I feel like I’m living in an episode of Game of Thrones.  Just like the warring kingdoms in Westeros, today’s conversations include extreme division between the sexes (think: Google Memo), races (Affirmative action for whites), immigrants (Proposed “merit-based” immigration policy) and religions (Muslim ban).

Putin, like the scheming Littlefinger, is laughing at all the chaos he has caused and is celebrating with shirtless selfies in Siberia.

Playing the long game, without a shirt. Photograph: Sputnik via AFP/Getty Images

But our own boy-king Donald Trump, in GoT Joffrey fashion, upped the game when he made off-the-cuff comments about raining “fire and fury like the world has never seen” against North Korea for it’s newfound nuclear capabilities.  Kim Jung-un didn’t seem too scared of this rhetoric though, as he then proceeded to threaten to nuke Guam.

Photo: YouTube

As if this political brinksmanship drama wasn’t enough, an existential threat greater than the White Walkers was exposed when federal scientists leaked a report about climate change to the New York Times because they feared their own government, aka the Trump administration, would suppress or change it.

Where’s Khaleesi on a dragon when you need her?

I guess we have to be our own heroes.  Here’s how:

  • Want better leaders?  Vote for them!  Not sure about the who/what/where/how of voting in local elections?  There’s an app for that: Voter’s App
  • We don’t have a say in pulling out of the Paris Accords but we can fight global warming5 Ways You Can Save Planet Earth
  • Sick of all the vicious verbal barbs?  We are too:  Civility

Want to do even more?  Volunteer to work on the issues that matter most to you.  Be part of the solution.  Want to be inspired?  Read: The Silver Lining of the 2016 Election (Warning: it might make you cry…or volunteer.)

March on y’all!

1 Year After I Didn’t March

1 Year 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 would have a green light 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 you all were and suddenly that gave me courage too.

Photo c/o Kristi Wright Photography

I remember reading in history class about peaceful protests, feminism and the Civil Rights Movement and wondering what I would do if I was living back then.  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 Women’s March in Austin, 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 our families, 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 important local legislation, including women’s reproductive rights, public education and health care. 

Blue Ribbon Lobby Day with Sylvia Holmes and Melissa Fierro

·         Helped 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 Texas 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 candidates, 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, 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

·         We supported other Progressive 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 to save health care and/or reproductive rights, chances are you met someone from March On! Texas there too.

Lisa, Simone and Jenn working on social media

·         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 in business and government and artists standing up for values we believe in.

In the spirit of “better late than never” this year I went to my first rally.  After the events of Charlottesville I went to a rally against Nazis and white supremacy…in 2017…

Simone, Lisa, Sylvia – at rally against white supremacy

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! 

Lisa 😉

 

Lisa Traugott is a volunteer, mom, award-winning author and fitness blogger.  She blogs at ShesLosingIt.com.

 

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.

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.