I remember my parents used to read me stories when I was younger, it was our nightly tradition. But, to be completely honest with you, I don’t remember much of the details of what we read, I’ve often mistaken one character for another and the morals have dwindled from my mind over time. I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes even the best stories beg for a re-read.
After participating in the Women’s March in Seattle last week, I spent time reminding myself of one particular story, and I wanted to share it with you. Not too long ago, my family were taken from their homes during WWII when President Franklin Roosevelt signed the infamous Executive Order 9066. It was an order which forced nearly 115,000 American citizens of Japanese descent to live in internment camps and leave their friends, jobs, and lives behind. This internment of innocent Americans was about racism and was strengthened by hateful rhetoric, but ultimately it all whittled down to fear. America feared what they did not know and could not understand and acted with emotional haste.
As a Communications student, I think a lot about story, how to connect with the reader and convey a message that is relevant, useful, and makes sense of things. I oftentimes find myself drawing inspiration from some of my favorite writers. In a lot of ways, I realize that I am using their writing techniques as a launchpad for my own writing, learning from their style choices, and crafting my own way. Needless to say, I subscribe to the idea that writing your own story is about connecting the dots and making meaning from the past. For me, attending the recent protests in our Seattle community were not just about my belief that we need to stand up for communities, races, and genders that have always been, and continue to be marginalized, but also about my belief in people’s ability to learn from the past and rewrite the future.
I have hope for humanity in rewriting the story we have written so far. In light of this, I asked a few people to share their words, stories, or hope for the future, and here’s what they said:
I have hope for the community. I think it’s really easy when you disagree with Trump and his policies to feel hopeless because it’s hard to understand how someone who is so misogynistic and so sexist could be in power. It’s hard to understand what you could do to fight against that and it’s easy to feel helpless and alone. Protesting solidified that there are communities out there that are willing to disagree with him and fight for what they believe in. To know that there are allies and a community out there is something I haven’t felt since the election, and through the march I was able to find safety. Protesting was a reminder to take part in local politics and take this feeling of empowerment and inspiration and channel that into concrete action.
The words that came to mind when I first saw the crowd at San Jose City Hall were, “unity for humanity.” After a friend from France texted about huge crowds “everywhere,” the phrase became “global unity for humanity.” The words that David Byrne shared were, “solidarity” and “affirmation.” Mark echoes these sentiments as do I. It was so encouraging to see so many individuals engaged and so much creativity unleashed. I feel less despondent knowing that there is shared hope among millions who hold a vision of a world unlike the one that a t presidency portends. I believe that the local community possesses a sense that participation does have a practical, positive outcome. This is a motivating force.
I think it is partly about remembering some of the accomplishments with women’s rights from the past but also reminding people that theses things aren’t guaranteed, that we need to bring up the inequalities and the issues women have fought for, and remind people that these are still problems. Some things that exist need to be fought for because they could be undone by changes in government. We must not forget that there are ongoing things that we are not thinking about all the time, such as the pay gap. Nothing gets done unless people are reminded of the inequalities and the issues.
My primary reason for attending the Women’s March was to visibly show my own support as a feminist for the cause. I understand the cause as demonstrating a need to revisit female equality and rights (especially reproductive) in the US and beyond. The was my first protest march. I was thrilled to be a part of it. I was so impressed by the amount of supporters from all backgrounds, especially men and young children. It was an overwhelmingly positive experience. I am so proud to have been part of this historic moment.
So, I hope you take the time to remind yourself of the stories that shaped your path and the people who brought them to your ears. It’s time that we remind each other that none of our stories are linear or set, rather we have the chance to choose where our current path might lead us. It doesn’t take a campfire and ‘Kumbaya’ to tell a story that can change the future, just words that speak to that visceral human condition that we have come to know so well.