Latest posts by Sara T (see all)
- Who do you think you are? Ten essential tips for researching your family tree - March 27, 2017
- Why I Marched: Women’s March on Washington, 21 January 2017 - February 10, 2017
- Music on the Brink of Destruction at Wigmore Hall: A Review - February 9, 2017
20 January 2017 was a momentous day for America; a day in which one of the most arguably controversial presidents-elect was sworn into office in Washington DC. It was a significant day for me, too: it was my birthday. Every four years, I celebrate the anniversary of my birth as America watches the inauguration of the leader of the free world for the next four years. After the excruciating election this year, I swore off media (as much as one can in the information age) for the month of January. And this weekend, I was going to celebrate my birthday in Paris, in blissful expat adventure mode, willfully pushing away the news of the political dystopia unfolding before us. What could I do about it, anyway? Then I learned about the Women’s March on Washington.
As an American expat, one of the most patriotic things I’ve been able to do is vote in the presidential elections. I have, without fail, sent my absentee ballot to my local county board of elections every four years. I’ve also had the unique experience of watching American elections outside of America with the rest of the world, and I have seen how the rest of the world watches with us. Some anxious, some amused, but all watching, waiting. And, as if out of a Simpsons episode, there was Donald Trump being sworn into office. A morally corrupt, selfish man who speaks a lot but says nothing, other than spouting racist, xenophobic, misogynistic rhetoric. I could not simply ignore this, even from an ocean away.
And so on 20 January, I celebrated my birthday quietly in Paris. And on 21 January, I defended my freedoms loudly beneath the Eiffel Tower, surrounded by other women and men, European and American, young and old. I marched alongside activists from across the globe, in the footsteps of those strong leaders who fought for justice and equality, in what became the largest protest in United States history. I marched to make this voice louder, to stand behind the signs declaring Women’s Rights are Human Rights. Refugees are People. We Are Not Afraid. A morally bankrupt president will make morally bankrupt decisions for the country. This is dangerous situation for the next generation, and for the world. The march gave me and millions of other people a platform to raise our voices and lift eachother up in the face of a new backward administration that aims to reverse the social progress that we as Americans have worked so hard to achieve.
Why I Marched: Women’s March on Washington, 21 January 2017
I marched in support of women’s rights, in acknowledgement that women deserve as much respect and dignity as men, and should be allowed equal rights and opportunities. The leader of the United States has degraded, harassed, and bullied women, as well as laughed about sexually assaulting them. To name a few.
I marched in support of a woman’s right to choose. No government should be allowed to legislate what happens to my body and my reproductive system.
I marched in support of safe, accessible, and affordable health care for all Americans. Trump has promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would strip a large percentage of Americans of health insurance with no viable alternative in place.
I marched because I believe that the rights and freedoms of my LGBTQ+ friends and family should be equal, fair, and protected under the law. Trump opposes marriage equality and has appointed people to executive branch agencies, and within the White House and the Justice Department, who are hostile to the LGBTQ+ community.
I marched in support of fair treatment of all religious and racial minorities, as well as all immigrants and refugees seeking a better life for themselves and their families through immigration. Trump’s discriminatory ban on individuals from several majority Muslim countries (aka ‘the Muslim Ban’) has only served to pull families apart and widen a rift between Muslim Americans and the US government. He has also made sweeping statements about refugees and Mexicans, asserting that they are rapists, murderers, extremists, and generally bad human beings. In an effort to put ‘America First’, Trump seems determined to define who and what is American on his own terms. This has lead to an upsurgence of hate crimes and violence, which appears to have been given ‘permission’ and ‘normalised’ in recent weeks. America is a country of immigrants, enriched by the history and voices of people from all over the world. Trump himself is the son and grandson of Scottish and German immigrants to the United States. Two of his three wives are immigrants themselves. One can only speculate as to how this irony is lost on him. In his own words: ‘We’re building a wall, it’s going to be a wall that is not – nobody’s going through my wall. Trump builds walls, I build walls…. It’s going to be strong. It’s going to be solid. It’s going to be policed.’
I marched in support of disabled Americans who have been bullied or harassed after the president modelled this appalling behaviour himself. Disabled individuals deserve respect and fair treatment.
I know that a single march on 21 January is not going to directly change a policy or knock some human decency into Donald J. Trump. But what it did do was reinforce a collective sense of awareness of issues currently under threat by the new administration. It also demonstrated, on an international scale, the passion of a very sizable demographic of Americans who will fight to keep their rights intact. I marched to demand protection of these rights for myself as a woman and an American, and for future generations. It was not a wish for failure of the current government or leader; but rather, a reminder of what the government needs to protect and preserve. I also marched, on foreign soil, to show the rest of the world that I am one of the many Americans who are not represented by the current government, and who believe in building bridges, not walls, in order to promote and protect human rights for all.
The Women’s March on Washington was the first step, and it was on day 1 of the presidency. 1459 days left to go. I hope I’ll be dancing, rather than marching, on my birthday, in four years’ time.
Women’s March, 21st January 2017 – Your stories
Did you participate in the Women’s March? If so, please share your story and experience either in a comment below or in a whole new article!