This Saturday, January 21, 2017 people from around the world will gather in Washington D.C., for the Women’s March on Washington; standing in solidarity for their shared beliefs in human and civil rights. I will proudly be standing shoulder to shoulder with my fellow Fairbanksans at the Farthest North sister march of this event, one of over 400 sister marches happening around the globe organizing 700k participants, in conjunction with the event in D.C. We will gather at Raven Landing for a rally, march, and community gathering from 10am to 1pm. In the uniting principles of the movement, found at https://www.womensmarch.com/principles, I believe that every individual can identify with at least one of these principles and that it is reason enough to stand with us on Saturday.
In the past I kept my political cards held close. I wouldn’t post my opinions regarding politics or religion on social media. I only discussed these subjects with people I knew were on the same page as me. I was political in quiet ways; voting, volunteering and making donations. I avoided conflict by keeping my opinions to myself. This election forced me to show my cards – I now feel an obligation to speak out like never before. The public discourse around the election has shown me there are deep divisions within our country that I believe can be healed through open and honest communication.
I’m terrified to watch the empowerment of individuals who incite violence from the fringe of a perceived racial war; of those that misappropriate misogyny and bigotry under the guise of Judeo-Christian ethic; of those that consider sexual identity a choice and that being a women is a pre-existing condition. With growing threats to affordable health care at a time when wages stagnate and the wealth gap is growing, we are witnessing a disenfranchisement of a population, with 4 in 10 eligible voters choosing apathy or turning away from overcrowded polling stations. There is a threat to our communities when we lack access to our government; when our voices are stifled because we can’t vote, when our agencies are politicized and social media is deluged with corrupted information propagated in real time.
Our elected officials are encumbered with legislating the will of the People. Their positions will require that they serve morally and ethically in service of the American citizens. Our movement, taking place on our new President’s first day in office, is designed to remind legislators that they will be held accountable by the People and that freedom of Assembly is one of our protected rights. Now is the time for seeing humanity in our neighbors – having respectful conversation with people of all viewpoints, and for planning our resistance to ideologies we do not support.
I will go high; I will focus my energy to protect the rights of our diverse community and it’s common values. I will look for answers and solutions. I will not be complacent. I will push back against legislation I do not stand for. I will practice empathy with the intent to understand the intersecting identities in my community. I will work to suspend judgements and attempt to let go of ego. I implore everyone, including our local and national leaders, to do the same.
There are so many simple things that everyone can do:
Think critically – end insular thinking. Educate yourself to truly understand all sides of an issue before drawing a conclusion.
Share the message – Tweet, post, email, call, and write letters but most importantly go visit your local representatives to discuss the issues that matter most to you.
Spend wisely – engaging in financial activism can be a powerful tool. Donate to your causes, subscribe to honest media and support businesses that share your values.
Be Gracious – forego the negativity and find reasons to be grateful. Instead of being the angry losers in democracy be a proud advocate for change.
Serve your community – perform acts of service for those who are overlooked or excluded. Compassion and kindness can be acts of bold resistance.
Reach out – divisive exclusion is a hallmark of the recent political rhetoric. Interact and intentionally build relationships with those in your community you may normally have little interaction with. Resist wall builders by breaking down walls.
Organize – Identify community leaders and assist their work, create action groups, volunteer, roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty: join the Fairbanks Activist Forum; volunteer at your local representative’s office or one of the many local non profit groups.
Assemble – Show up and speak out. Do it peacefully and don’t be deterred by those who will attempt to undermine your mission.
Furthermore when our new president raises his hand in an oath to protect, preserve and defend the Constitution of the United States, we must raise our right hands and do the exact same thing. Protecting our Constitutional rights is the responsibility of every American. Let’s make a commitment to be active participants in the future of our country.
Now can be a golden age of activism. Do it for yourself, your partner, your family, your neighbors, do it for those who can’t or don’t vote, and most importantly for those who don’t understand what is at stake. Do it for those who can’t get involved, who are scared to speak out, those who live in fear, and those who don’t think that every voice counts.
Whichever issues you are passionate about there is a place for you at the march this weekend. It will be a step towards unifying our community, grounded in new relationships, to create positive change from the grassroots level up.
The Fairbanks March will be a peaceful nonpartisan event. It is NOT an anti-administration rally nor an endorsement of any party or representative(s). This march is led by women, but, it IS for all people; regardless of race, creed, sexual identity, or political affiliations. Together, we will stand up for shared beliefs in Human and Civil rights. We will stand with those around the world in numbers too great to ignore, sending a bold message to our new president in his first day in office, that women’s rights are human rights. Defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.