why i march

I march because the opposite of love is not fear or hate, but apathy.

I march for my mother, a woman who grew up believing that the only way to get ahead in life was to dress like a man, act like a man, and get a man’s job. A woman who doesn’t always trust men. And despite all these things, a woman who is full of love and hope and who raised me and my little brother to believe that we could be and do anything we wanted.

I march for my grandmother, one of the first female judges in the state of Louisiana, who had to run as a Republican in order to get elected. Happy was the day when she retired and put up an “I’m With Her” sign in her front yard.

I march for my great grandmother and many before her, a long line of proto-matriarchs. Beulah Mae Taylor fled Tennessee at 18 to seek economic opportunity and love in the big city of Atlanta. There, she married her sweetheart and remained a hard-working, child-rearing, union-organizing factory woman for the entirety of her long life.

I march because this march is not one for white women, straight women, or even just women – it is one for America. For the principles of justice and inclusion and progress and love. For our country and our neighbors and ourselves.

I march in hope of a day when every American finds pride and joy in educating themselves, participating in intelligent debate, and exercising the many rights that their foremothers and fathers fought so desperately for.

I march because I’m not nostalgic for an old America. One that some claim was “great.” I don’t dream of taking this country back to a day when many of my friends and family and I myself would not have access to the rights or opportunities we have today. I dream, rather, of a new America, one where citizens no longer fear governmental control over their bodies or their economic potential or their ability to love.

I march because I find it infuriating that while so many before us battled for our rights to expression and election, so many among us feel too busy to use these rights. Too unenthused. How can you feel that way, when you know that our country for so long deprived women and minorities of their voting rights and civil rights, rights to opportunity and a better future? We are among the lucky few in this world with the ability to shape that future, and you’re just going to give it up? Do you know how many ignored and displaced people in the world would give up everything they have in order to have that sort of freedom?

And yet freedom means that those who don’t make their voice heard are free to choose that. And all I can do is make sure that when I stand up for myself, I’m standing up for them too.

I march because I always loved history class – especially learning about people coming together despite their differences and moving forward toward the bright promise of a better future for all. I wondered in horror as I learned about the millions who stood idly by during periods of oppression and violence – the Trail of Tears, the antebellum era, the Holocaust, Japanese internment camps, discrimination and injustice toward nearly every religious, racial, and immigrant group in our nation and our world. How could people cower in fear when they knew these things were happening? Worse yet, how could people continue to be so preoccupied with their seemingly insignificant everyday lives that they didn’t even CARE that these things were happening? Would I do that? I asked myself. If I had the choice to do the right thing - because there is almost always a choice - would I turn a blind eye?

Never, I promised myself.

Voting in a few elections and participating in one single march are not quite a revolution. But it’s a start. If we all educated ourselves, all voted, all stood up when we saw something wrong and voiced our opinions when we knew it was right – think of how these small starts could change the face of our country. And hopefully, our world.

I march in hope of a day where every girl and woman and human has access to equal education, equal healthcare, equal economic opportunity. Rights to love whomever she chooses, do with her body as she sees fit, and fit into society wherever she wants.

 

I march because the opposite of love is not fear or hate, but apathy.

And it’s really not too hard to just care.

 

sarah crawfordComment