not one step back

womensmarch_atl

this past Saturday in Atlanta, we woke to a monsoon. the sky was a deep shade of charcoal that never lightened from the time i went downstairs at about 7:00 until at least 10:00. our backyard was flooding. it was clear that the $2 plastic ponchos i’d so uncharacteristically bought from Amazon as a precaution were not gonna cut it. i realized Spy, Miss Girl and the neighbor who’d asked to go with us the night before could well bail on me. but hell or high water (much of which certainly was collecting), i was going downtown to be a part of the Atlanta March for Social Justice & Women. with our new president having just insulted one of the greatest living civil rights leaders and having falsely and cruelly dubbed my city falling apart and crime-infested, i was determined that a little rain wouldn’t stop me from being part of the crowd standing up against ignorance, lies and hate.

as i waited for the deluge to let up that morning, i spent way too long writing this to post on Facebook. it didn’t say everything i wanted to — nor can i at this point find all the words i want to say about why Saturday was so important — but sometimes, taking that first step is enough.

ATL: Woodwards are not great planners, but our current plan for today is to arrive at COP just after noon and head to the ACLU meet-up area by Googie Burger. Anyone that wants to walk with us, look for us there or text me. I did not pull it together to make my signs, but I have some extra rain gear if anyone needs it!

Now, let’s be honest. I’m a straight, married, middle-aged white lady with a graduate degree (and paid-off student loans), a good job and good health insurance (thanks to my white, middle-aged, over-educated husband’s good job). I don’t believe I’m significantly more at risk of having my pussy grabbed (literally or figuratively) today than I was on Thursday. Probably not much will change for me personally over the next four years. Today isn’t about me.

My blonde-haired, blue-eyed 6-year-old daughter thinks she looks like Beyonce. She doesn’t understand why some people didn’t like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She is similarly confused by the assertion that it’s not okay for two boys or two girls to get married. She is taking a robotics class this semester at her thriving public school in a city our new president has labeled as falling apart. She loves science, art, books, playing hard, getting dirty and helping others no matter what they look like or where they come from. She is her own superhero and mine, too. And I don’t want a single bit of that to ever, ever change.

I believe that America IS great. It’s not okay that our new president doesn’t think so, too. It’s not okay that we now live in a country where, because of the example he has set through his words and actions, sexual assault and demonization of entire races, nationalities and religions is “normal.” It’s not okay that truth and facts no longer seem to matter. It’s not okay that many Americans are literally scared of losing their lives, their livelihoods or their rights because of rhetoric and policies that normalize hate, degradation and division.

I’m not a delicate snowflake. I’m not a sore loser. I’m not a whiny liberal who needs to just get over it. I’m an American woman who truly believes that we are in danger of going backward as a country and I won’t just stand by quietly and watch it happen.

See y’all out there. #whyimarch

i hit post and began to rally the troops. not one of ’em bailed on me and it turned out to be an amazing day.

i tried to be in the moment most of the day and just take in the crowd and the energy, instead of constantly snapping photos. i missed some of the best signs and that one perfect crowd shot, but walked away with the photos above and a few thoughts . . .

  • we didn’t see a drop of rain once we got out there, and the sun even came out. Mother Nature, the badassest woman of them all, was looking out for us.
  • the crowd was such a mix of ages, races, genders, religions, sexual orientations . . . you name it. everyone had different specific concerns about the new administration, but we were all out there in support of the same set of values. the feeling that we can be a true force in this red state was overwhelming.
  • i’m completely bummed that i missed seeing John Lewis and hearing him speak. i know it was amazing, but the crowd was too big and we were just in the wrong spot.
  • his maligned 5th district was not just home to the march, but clearly home to many of us there. chants of defend the 5th! spontaneously broke out several times and invigorated the crowd.
  • speaking of chants, there were some good ones. my favorite snarky one was hands too small! can’t build a wall! and my favorite positive one was love, not hate! what makes America great!
  • Atlantans are clearly no slouches in artistic expression, as evidenced by all the funny and fantastic signs. too many to capture. i’m inspired for next time.
  • speaking of next time, i had never done anything like this before. i’m hooked. i’ll be out there every single time from now on. i know marching is not all we have to do to ensure we retain the gains made in civil rights and women’s rights over the past 8 years, but it’s a start. and sometimes, taking that first step is enough to help you figure out the next one.
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