Why I’m Marching

Because when we first learned we were having a son, my husband and I had the same thought: “we have to raise him not to be an asshole.” That son is now a sweet, kind three-year-old who is equally fond of cement mixers and princess dresses, T-ball and his toy kitchen. He has a little brother now, too. I am the mother of two sons. And I want them to grow into strong, intelligent, thoughtful men who treat all women (and all people) as respected equals. This task is made rather more difficult when the highest office in the land is occupied by a man who treats women like objects, publicly insults and belittles them, doubles down on those insults, who has boasted about sexual assault, on tape, for God’s sake, and still managed to be wildly popular among a significant fraction of the population. I march to send the message to my sons: this is not what real manhood looks like.

Because the office of president can no longer be held up as something to aspire to. Instead, if my kids exhibit any presidential behavior whatsoever, they shall face the mother of all Time-Outs.

Because in addition to sons, I also have nieces. Two of them are under 4 years old. Imagine if you were a little girl, and the only president you’d ever known was a woman. Imagine how your vision of your own potential would be expanded by such a reality–how you would be able to take for granted certain possibilities that women have fought hard for for centuries, that apparently still hover out of reach. And now imagine that the only president you’ve known is a misogynist with zero qualifications for governance, who nevertheless managed to get elected over a woman who was probably the most qualified and experienced candidate for president we’ve seen in the last fifty years. This, unfortunately, is a dynamic my nieces will encounter over and over in their lives. But they should hear me say it’s not right, and it never will be.

Because the day after Election Day in 2008, I went to the Oakland drop-in center for homeless women and kids where I used to cook breakfast every Wednesday. Over coffee I listened to the families talk about the election results, giddy, still a little disbelieving. Several were African-American women with school-aged kids. I listened to these mothers of young black boys and girls as they shared their hopes for the future, tears in their eyes. How, whatever else Obama would or would not accomplish, he had already given them, and especially their sons, a great gift: the chance to see someone that looked like them in the White House.

Because I can’t imagine what mother could possibly get that same almost holy thrill from seeing Donald Trump elected.

Because I have met and worked with a lot of people who came to this country without documents, and I know how desperate most of them are for a better life, how hard they have worked to get here and stay here, and how limited their options are. “I’m not against immigrants,” I hear many citizens say, “I just want them to come the legal way, to get in line with everyone else.” What these citizens don’t know is that for the poor, and for many people fleeing extremely dangerous situations in war- or violence-torn nations, there is no line. There is no legal alternative. Yes, we need comprehensive immigration reform. Until that happens, we need compassion and leeway for those who are here in the shadows.

Because I personally know Dreamers who have lived their whole lives in this country after being brought here illegally as children. They are as American as I am and they deserve a chance to thrive here and to give back to the country they’ve made their own. If Trump revokes DACA, they could be deported to countries where they have never lived, where they don’t know anyone, where they don’t speak the language. This makes America poorer.

Because in this mainstream-Christian society, freedom of religion don’t mean a thing unless it applies to other religions.

Because once fossil fuels are pumped up and burned, they can’t be put back in the ground. Once coral reefs are bleached or old-growth forests are cut down, they not coming back in my lifetime. Once a river is fouled with mine tailings or pipeline spills, the ecosystem that depends on it may be destroyed forever. I have faith that we will recover from many Trump-era policies, but a failure to act on climate now may hasten disaster from which we will never recover. Indeed it may already be too late.

Because I’m one of those nasty women, and I’m not going to let this shit happen again.

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