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Month

January 2017

The March, Part 2: Women’s Rights Are Human Rights

What a week.

In one week, it’s all gone to hell, just as the majority of us expected.

Actually, I had hoped it wouldn’t happen this fast or this aggressively. But when I think about our POTUS inciting violence at his campaign rallies, I think we all should have known it would be like this.

That’s when I knew he was a disgusting human. When I saw him egging on supporters to physically assault people who didn’t agree with him, I knew he would be a monstrous President. And for one week, he has been.

I’m even more glad I marched in Washington after this week. We must stand up and speak up more now than ever. I was going to do three parts on the March, but there’s no time. There’s too much to fight right now, so I’ll put it all into this Part 2:

The March, Part 2: Women’s Rights Are Human Rights

After we arrived at RFK Stadium and saw the buses and the women in their pink hats, the adrenaline kicked in. We grabbed our granola bars, phones, coats and signs and headed to the March.

It was a cool, misty morning. We had gotten behind on the road, so we didn’t arrive until after 11:00 a.m. The rally was supposed to last until 1:00 so we thought we could make some of it. Our bus decided to mostly stay together, since we had an AJC photographer who was documenting our trip and needed to keep up with us. My friend Erika and I decided we didn’t want to get lost, so we stayed with the group. We tried to take the Metro to the March but were told there was a two-hour wait. So we walked the 30 minutes or so to the March.

I’m actually glad we did. It was exhilarating to be walking on the sidewalks of neighborhoods and have DC residents honking at us as they drove by, yelling their support out of their windows, standing in front of their homes with their kids and signs welcoming us and cheering for us. Not one person heckled us. The police officers directing traffic were high-fiving us and thanking us. I must say, I was not expecting that at all. They were all smiles after a tumultuous Inauguration Day and welcomed us with open arms.

The National Guard had troops placed along our route, alongside their Humvees and tanks. At first, that freaked me out. I said my share of prayers that their services would not be needed. As the day went on, they gave me great comfort and it felt wonderful to know that they were keeping us safe. I am so grateful to both the police and the National Guard for working that day and I told them so many times.

The river of marchers came to a stop when the Capitol came into view. Everyone wanted their picture taken, of course.

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My badass friend Erika and I, fired up and ready to march!

It was around this point that I had my one teary moment. A small group of Muslim women were standing to the side, holding a sign that said “Muslim Americans love the USA.” I thought about their day-to-day life in this country right now and it overwhelmed me. Because of extremists in their religion, they face so much hate by their own countrymen every single day. I thought of how frightening it must be. The March became real to me when I saw those women. I hope they had some peace seeing us all marching for them.

As we walked past the Capitol and neared the beginning of the March, the crowd came to a standstill. There were so many of us, we could not get anywhere near the rally. We did not hear a thing. We were bummed but also excited that that the attendance was so high. Signs for every cause were there. I saw people of every color. I saw every religion represented. I saw LGBTQ marchers. I saw immigrant marchers. I saw men. I saw disabled people. I saw young and old and in-between. I saw people from all over the country. I saw America. Some were surprised to see Georgia represented because we are a red state. Well, we changed their perception on that!

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About this time, we couldn’t use our phones anymore. The crowds were so thick, service was nil which caused some anxiety. I am so phone dependent (aren’t we all?) that I hated to be cut off from the world. I couldn’t get any news or even find myself on Google maps. But my old-school skills kicked in…and we actually talked to people! News flash: You can actually get information from Real People!

The police men and women were invaluable. They gave us info that there were so many people on the March route, there was no way to actually march. They told us to go to a side street to march, so that’s what we did. Erika found a friend with Moms Demand Action- GA who had protested before, which was miraculous and a godsend because the crowd got so tight, we got separated from our bus group. Before we moved to the side street, I had my only panicky moment. The crowd was moving as a pack and everyone was wanting to move…it was only a few minutes, though, before we were able to get to the more spacious side street.

Once there, the March began for us. We marched side-by-side, chanting and holding our signs high. Erika’s sign was a major hit:

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Photo credit: Erika Hamburg-Brown

My sign, however, looked as if a toddler made it. LOL! (It’s what it says that matters, so bite me, ok?! :-))

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When God was giving out sign-making skills, He gave mine to Erika. 🙂

As we marched, there were folks standing on the sidewalks, cheering us on, taking video, holding signs. It was a surreal moment and the energy was unlike anything I’ve ever felt or probably will ever feel again. All of the people really were pleasant and lovely. I didn’t encounter anyone that wasn’t peaceful or was out-of-line. I did hear that a friend’s Muslim relative witnessed another Muslim woman get beaten by a man on the Metro on the way to the March. The crowd was able to push the man off the train at a stop. The woman still went on to the March, God bless her. Her March blog would be very different from mine, and I acknowledge that fact. But my takeaway: we are not a country that beats Muslim women. We are a country that pushes the asshole off the train.

We marched for quite a while until the crowd came to a standstill. We had caught up with the March route and again, it was clogged because of so many people. At this point, we were hungry and beginning to worry we wouldn’t make it back to the bus on time. We talked with another policeman and found respite at L’Enfant Plaza and had a bite to eat and a restroom break. Lines were long, restaurants were running out of food, but it was a welcome sight to sit and take a break. Again, I was so appreciative of the exhausted restaurant workers and I made sure to tell them. Shout-out to Au Bon Pain for a wonderful tuna salad sandwich and Coke!

The last part of the day was getting the Metro and making it back to the bus, which we again figured out by asking police and other marchers. We did a lot of following the pink hats!

To sum up, for me, the March was a love fest. A response of the best American kind to a world of hate. Marchers helped marchers with info, marchers picked up marchers when they fell, marchers cheered on others’ signs and older marchers and disabled marchers (there were many). Marchers encouraged, supported, nurtured, took care of.  I felt so much love that I couldn’t hate anymore. I needed this event more than anything to remind myself that love does win; it always wins because most of us believe in love. I actually felt sorry for Trump voters because they don’t get to feel this feeling. I want this for everyone. I want everyone to feel this kind of love. And I will continue to do my part and show up for love.

For the record, I marched in Washington for all of us. Even Republicans. Even Trump supporters. I marched for the rights of all Americans because we all deserve them. I see that as a big difference in the two sides. We want rights for everyone. You don’t. And, just because others have rights doesn’t mean you have less rights. No one will force you to get an abortion, or to marry a gay person, or to become Muslim. If our government tried to force you to do those things, I would march with you in protest.

I’m a heterosexual, white Christian woman. I marched for those like me and those not like me. I marched for homosexuals, I marched for African-Americans, I marched for Muslims, I marched for immigrants, I marched for disabled people and I marched for men. I did not march against you. I marched for you. I marched for everyone. I marched for love.

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Photo taken at Little Tart Bakeshop in Krog Street Market (Atlanta, GA)

 

The March, Part 1: This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Last time, I posted a blog about my disappointment in/incredulity at my fellow white Americans who voted for Trump.

A lot of people loved it and a lot of people hated it. A lot of people love Trump and a lot of people hate him. This is where we find ourselves.

I have family relationships that are now strained, friend relationships that are strained, friend relationships whose status is just…unknown. I have made new friends, I have lost some friends. I have trolls who are now responding to my blog and social media because I am speaking out against Trump and questioning voters who voted for him.

It’s a strange time for all of us. I think we can all agree on that.

My last post was an outlet for how I was feeling. We are all processing these events in our own way. You don’t have to like it. I stand by it. Based on my life experiences, that’s how I was feeling. Based on your life experiences, you can like it or hate it. If you liked it, I hope it helped you. If you hated it, I hope it is part of one of many difficult conversations we all have to have at some point. If you hated it, let it serve as a reminder from me that we are all still here, no matter how much you want us to go away. We’re not moving to Canada. Your candidate won but you still have to deal with us.

Another outlet for me was the Women’s March on Washington. It was the honor and privilege of a lifetime to attend the event. I posted on Facebook why I was marching and I’ll post it here again:

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I have decided to do multiple posts on the March, as I am still processing it and it’s something so much larger than myself. I want to do it justice. I hope you enjoy Part 1:

The March, Part 1: This Is What Democracy Looks Like

I rode a bus from Atlanta with about 50 other women and a few men. They were all different shades of white, black, brown. My incredible, supportive husband dropped my friend and me off. Shout-out to him and all the men (including my dad, my father-in-law, my brother, my cousin, my friends’ husbands) who support women and their need to march.

There were six buses going from Atlanta, with many more from other cities/towns in GA. It appeared that most of the women on my bus were from inside the perimeter but there were some of us from OTP. I have never done anything like this before in my life, and I had my share of anxiety about the whole thing. Would it be safe? Would the other women be nice? Would someone near me get me drawn into a fight and get me arrested? Would the buses have a wreck or break down? (One did break down but made it in time for the march.) Would I have to go to the bathroom when no porta-potty was around? These are the things I thought about as I got on the bus.

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Lining up to get on the bus! #ATL

First of all, the bus was lovely. It was like an airplane, with tv screens, personal lights, air vents and charging outlets at every seat. There was a bathroom that held up until near the end. They stopped every few hours for bathrooms, food and leg stretches. I would like to shout out to the Flyin’ J where we stopped twice — the nicest workers and cleanest restrooms ever. We were treated with kindness and respect by everyone when we stopped and I can only imagine what people thought when six buses of women wearing “Nasty Woman” and “Women’s March” shirts and matching pink knitted hats entered the truck stop. Not one person said anything ugly to us. Not one.

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2:00 a.m. Many thanks to Flyin’ J’s for the oasis they provided us.

The bus drivers were also lovely. The loveliest. They sang softly to us to wake us up (“wake up, sleepyheads, it’s time for a poopy stop!”) and took such good care of us. They supported us completely and told us so. They told us that they would be marching with us if they didn’t have to sleep so they could get us home. Our main driver, Lamont, was full of kindness and love and good humor. I feel so fortunate to have had him as a part of my March experience, and consider him, his co-workers and his company Atlantic to be a big part of its success.

The women around me on the bus were quiet and sleeping for most of the trip. We chatted a bit and shared info but for the most part, tried to rest. The bus captains were absolute champions. They kept us informed and organized. They answered our questions. They were tough as nails. Any anxiety about this trip diminished as I saw how competent and fearless they were.

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My bus mates and rockin’ bus captains!

(Note: Sleeping on a bus is an under-appreciated aspect of protesting. There is literally no comfortable sleeping position in a bus seat, no matter how hard we tried. Eventually, your body gives up and you will sleep a fitful sleep of a few hours. You consider lying down in the aisle. You study how others are sleeping and try to make it work. You remind yourself why you are doing this and you don’t complain. Well, maybe you do a little. You’re not perfect, ok? So I now want to say to civil rights protesters like John Lewis, “thank you for getting your skull cracked, for getting arrested and beaten, and for sleeping on a bus for us.”)

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Not me or my bus, but basically all of us on my bus.

Once we finally arrived after 12 hours of travel, we pulled up to RFK Stadium and saw bus after bus after bus. I saw a sea of pink hats walking toward the Rally location. I felt the energy. I felt alive. I felt the love. I knew that missing two nights of sleep was a small sacrifice to be able to be a part of this historic and important event.

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Not the best photo quality but it was a marvel to see.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

 

 

What the Actual Hell, White People?

HOW IS THIS YOUR GUY?

We all have political issues that we care about and place our vote in such a way as to support our issues. But when it came down to it, HOW THE HELL WAS THIS YOUR GUY?

I’ve often fantasized about an America where the two political parties both put up the best of the best and we all have to really think hard about our choice. Because that would really be good for the country. As we all know, that didn’t happen and never will. Neither candidate this time around was perfect. But when it came down to that choice in the booth, HOW THE HELL WAS HE YOUR GUY?

I remember talking with moderate (obviously white) Republicans early on and they were disgusted by him. They said they either wouldn’t vote or they would vote for HRC. So I said to myself, “Self- it’s going to be fine. These good people get it. He will never win.” But you know what? My red county that always votes around 70% Republican — they voted 69.3% for him. Hmm.

Republicans, that’s about as sad as sad can be. I believe you that you didn’t like him but you voted for him because you wanted a piece of the Trump pie. If he won, you were betting that you would get your piece. In spite of all of the horrible things he did and said, in spite of the horrific person he is, you voted for him.

So how’s that pie tasting right now? Delicious? Bittersweet? Giving you the runs yet? Most likely a flavor combo of Borscht and vodka. I don’t know because for the most part, you’re not talking to me about it. Most of you are awfully quiet on social media. I do wonder what you all say to one another to rally yourselves. A Republican, non-voting relative did send me a conservative defense of DT and it was heartbreakingly ignorant. It more or less said “fear not, conservatives — we should get what we want out of him even though he’s an asshat.” So do you just not care about other people who aren’t white Christians? Aren’t you worried that he might not give a shit about you, either? Given his cabinet appointees, most of them aren’t concerned with the little guy. But I guess Fox News is telling you differently, and for that, I truly am sad for you when he screws you, too.

But I also blame you. For aligning yourselves with this National Joke to get what you want. He’s your guy now and you’re responsible for him. Period. We all hold you responsible. How must that feel? It gives me the creeps and makes me want a shower to even imagine it.

I’m giving a great deal of my time right now to fight you and your guy. Time I would rather use for many other things, but I must give up to do what’s right. I’m a white, Christian Democrat. I might be the only white, Christian Democrat you know but trust me, there are many of us. And we are pissed and we will fight because we care about rights for all and that’s what we were taught to do as kids in Sunday School. Were you there? Where the hell did you go to Sunday School that HE IS YOUR GUY?

You’ve also made it super hard now for us white people who actually like black people. We had made some progress but things had heated up recently with the police shootings and the Black Lives Matter vs All Lives Matter/Blue Lives Matter debacle. (BTW they just wanted you to say, “yes, we hear you, of course, yes, black lives do matter.” That’s all. They just wanted you to acknowledge that their children’s lives matter. And you chose not to.) And now YOUR GUY has the support of the KKK and white supremacist groups and even has one in the White House. So, yeah, now it makes it even shittier to be a white person who likes black people because they aren’t going to trust any of us and frankly, I don’t blame them.

What the actual hell, White People? What the hell have you done to all of us? #Resist

 

 

 

 

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