Women’s March on Philadelphia
Today, January 21, 2017 marked the first full day of the presidency of Donald J. Trump, but that’s not how I will remember it. When I think back on this cold, dreary Saturday morning, I won’t recall his divisive politics or his agenda of hate; instead I will remember the first day that Americans stood up to President Trump and said, “not on my watch”.
The Women’s March on Washington took place today in our Nation’s capital with hundreds of thousands of women, men, and children marching to demand basic human rights. The planning of the DC march spawned similar marches all over the country (and across the globe) including here in Philadelphia where tens of thousands of people flooded onto the Ben Franklin Parkway from Logan Circle to the Art Museum.
As my mother, and many of my other family members and friends marched in DC, I took to the streets of Philadelphia with my wife and father. I marched for my mother. I marched for my wife. I marched for my sister-in-laws, my mother-in-law, my nieces, my aunts, my cousins, my grandmothers, my friends, and the daughters I may have some day. I marched for girls around the world in countries that do not grant basic freedoms to females who previously looked to the United States as a beacon of hope. I marched for women everywhere. I marched because women’s rights are basic rights. I marched because I believe that every women has a right to free birth control, to free cancer screenings, to STD testing, to safe and legal abortions, and to have the final say on their own bodies. I marched because I believe that women should be paid the same wage as a man that does the same job. I marched because I know that a woman could do as good of a job (if not better) than a man at holding the office of the president. I marched because violence, rape, and/or sexual assault against a woman is never okay and the punishment should fit the crime. I marched for survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault. I marched because my mother and father raised me to believe that all people are created equal, that all people deserve basic human rights, and that if you have more than you need, to give to those who are less fortunate. I marched because I don’t believe these principles as an adult because I was told to as a child, but because I now feel them as a moral fiber of my being. I marched for the LGBTQ community in their continued quest for equal rights and full acceptance of a life style that they didn’t choose, but have every right to lead. I marched because love is love, whether it is between a man and a woman, two women, or two men, and love is never something that we should fear or fight against. I marched for those who are afraid to come out of the closet for fear of repercussions. I marched because I don’t care what gender you identify as, what bathroom you use, or how you dress. I am not afraid of you because you are different than I am, our differences are what make us unique and beautiful, and I support you in living as the person that you are, not as the person our society sometimes tells you that you should or need to be.
I marched for Muslims who feel that they are under siege here in the U.S. because of the actions of those who have hijacked their religion and carried out atrocities in its name. I marched for the undocumented immigrants who fear being deported or worse by this regime, and for the Mexicans who our 45th president has referred to as “rapists and murderers”. I marched for the physically handicapped who have been mocked by Donald J. Trump. I marched for people of every color because your lives matter every bit as much as my own. I marched because the tensions between law enforcement and many people of color are real and need to be continually addressed in order to enact meaningful change. I marched for those suffering from mental illness, drug addiction, pre-existing conditions, and anyone who is without health insurance, stands to lose their health insurance, or those who will be denied insurance in the future. I marched because I believe that affordable health care is a basic human right that everyone in our nation deserves. I marched for those who cannot afford their prescriptions and for those who are denied medical marijuana and other non-traditional forms of relief from their suffering because Big Pharma is threatened by anything that cuts into their profits. I marched because I am a person living with Type 1 Diabetes and not a dollar sign. I marched for the vanishing middle class, those who deserve higher wages, and those who are without a job and desperate to find work. I marched for those in low-income neighborhoods that can’t put food on the table, pay their bills, get a decent education (K-12) or take care of their families. I marched for those who cannot afford higher education and for those who are crippled by the student loan debt they are forced to take on to receive a degree. I believe that free higher education is a worthwhile investment in our children’s future and in our nation’s future. I marched for the harm we are doing to our planet and the knowledge that climate change is real and that no amount of denial can undo science; we need to take drastic measures to protect our planet immediately. I marched because as a Jew in the post-Holocaust world, I know the importance of standing up for others before it’s too late. I marched because the children of this country are watching adults for guidance on how to act in these unsettling times. I marched because the world was watching today to see how our nation would react in the moments following yesterday’s inauguration. I marched because history is watching, and I refuse to be on the wrong side of it. I marched because we will hold this administration accountable for the promises they made on the campaign trail and for their actions now that they are in office.
I marched because I accept my privilege, am thankful for it, but see no one else as less deserving of it than I am. I marched for anyone else in this country that feels marginalized, overlooked, put down, disrespected, hated, fearful, hopeless, unsupported, or unloved. You are not alone. I marched because I will not always understand you or your plight, but I will always listen with an open heart and mind, and I will always defend your rights. As I marched through the sea of pink-hat wearing, sign-carrying people today, I felt the sense of unity. Those who marched were white, black, Hispanic, Asian, men, women, young, old, gay, straight, trans, rich, and poor. We were Philadelphians. We were Americans. We were humans. We were the collective of the almost 3 million more people who voted for Hillary Clinton instead of Donald Trump in this country. We were the voice of those who stood up on January 21, 2017 but who realize that today was only the beginning, and that the real work, the real fight, lies in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead.
Sometimes laughter is truly the best medicine and in a time such as this, where so many people are fearful and find it difficult to be hopeful, a little comedy can often convey serious thoughts that might otherwise be ignored. The signs I saw being carried today were priceless.
“We Shall Overcomb” “Girls Just Want to Have FUNdamental Rights” “This Pussy Grabs Back” “Tweet Women With Respect” “Nickelback Has a Stronger Approval Rating Than Trump” “Men of Quality, Don’t Fear Equality” “Yo Trump! Urine For a Rude Awakening” “I Can’t Believe I Still Have to Protest This Fucking Shit” “Keep Your Tiny Hands Off My Body” “IKEA Has Better Cabinets” and “PusSEE You At The Impeachment” were just a few of my favorites. There were also some very serious, deeply moving signs that were in stark contrast to the humorous ones. One that particularly struck me read: “You Wouldn’t Elect My Rapist”. The speakers ranged from religious leaders, to a self labeled “ordinary woman and mother”, from the local head of Planned Parenthood, to the Mayor of Philadelphia, Jim Kenney. Each speaker on the small stage erected in Eakins Oval, with the Philadelphia Museum of Art serving as a majestic backdrop, spoke eloquently and elicited cheers from the massive crowd.
I am proud of each and every one of you who took part in the Women’s March on Philadelphia and who marched today in cities and towns all over the United States of America. I am proud of all of you who wanted to stand and march but, for whatever reason, could not. Our collective voices cannot be ignored, cannot be silenced, and cannot be rebutted in 140 characters or less. Out of the despair that we all felt with the swearing in of president Trump yesterday, a new hope rose up today. We are here to stay. I urge each and every one of you who is sickened by Donald Trump and his sexist, racist, xenophobic, homophobic, fear-mongering supporters to join the good fight. We are stronger together and I firmly believe that Love will always trump Hate.