Monday, January 23, 2017

Speak. Inspire. Act.

I was privileged to attend and engage in the Boston Women's March for America on Saturday. The speeches, signs, and individuals were inspiring in their creativity and call to action. Boston's march felt gigantic-and it wasn't even in the top 3 for attendance. However, all 175,000 attendees fit into the Boston Common and that was pretty amazing.

The speakers were wide-ranging in their styles, foci, and identities. Savannah Fox Tree-McGrath, a First Nations woman of Arawak descent, performed one of the most beautiful and moving renditions of Amazing Grace I have ever heard-first in Cherokee, then in English. Of course Mayor Marty Walsh had some strong words for the new administration, informing them that Boston-and Massachusetts-will not give up on the legacy of forward-thinking and social justice that has formed the area. Attorney General Maura Healey's closing line of "We will see you in court" rang true-we must not allow our rights to be trampled and rallies are just the beginning. I was incredibly moved by the President of the Boston Branch of the NAACP, Tanisha M. Sullivan, Esq. and her call to continue to work toward justice in all arenas, while acknowledging the work done by men and women of color before. There were many more speakers and performers, all of whom had important words to impart.

One of the most significant challenges to the success of this march, and so many others, was inclusivity and intersectionality. As people began to plan for the D.C. rally and beyond, there was an early call out to not just include women of color, but to collaborate with them in leadership. Feminism without the specifier of intersectionality often lacks awareness and acknowledgement of the complex-and not entirely affirming-history and current challenge in ensuring all who identify as women are being advocated for and supported by it. I saw a lot of success in some ways; a racially diverse group of performers, speakers, and attendees (though a significantly higher presence of white women than any other), a number of people with both visible and invisible disabilities, and a general respect for each other within the crowd. However, it does not serve individuals or the movement to dismiss the challenges; language excluding trans women from the conversation, continued racism, body- and slut-shaming of women on the other side(s) of the political spectrum (ex. Melania Trump), and the self-congratulations of "doing protesting right" without awareness of the privilege afforded to this movement.

The work doesn't stop there-but I won't say it's just beginning. People have been fighting for their basic human rights since time immemorial-and many of us are just waking up to it. Please fight back-by calling legislators, standing up for those whose rights are being taken, donating to and volunteering for organizations doing this work on a larger scale, and spreading love in the world. Don't give hate a platform. Practice radical empathy, for yourself and others. Show up-in every sense. I plan on it.

10 Actions. 100 Days.


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