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