Signs, Sounds, & Thoughts From My Experience At The Women’s March in Washington D.C.

One Man’s Story: Why I Marched With Women on Trump’s First Day
By: Dan Beckmann/Orlando Sentinel
25 January 2017 

Last week, rather excitedly, I posted, what I thought was a fairly innocuous tweet; “Heading to D.C. for the March!”  I wrote.  So, I was surprised to read the first response.  Not because it arrived so quickly, I have nearly 10,000 followers.  Rather, because it came from a friend with an ambiguous quip. “Last I checked you were a man…is there something you’re not telling me?”  She wrote.  Surely my well-educated friend could not be so confused to think a Y chromosome would be a disqualification for taking part in a Women’s March?  Nonetheless, there it was.  That comment…hanging like a piñata, just waiting for me to crack it with a great big stick.

So, to my friend who wrote, what I’m sure she thought was a comment in jest, I guess there are some things I haven’t thought to tell you.  Allow me to fill you in on a few of them.

For 15-years, as a cameraman, writer, and producer with NBC News, I sat on the front line of many struggles.  This was the first time I would be at the epicenter of something of this magnitude as a participant.  I knew why I was marching because I had the checked boxes all filled out in my head; women’s rights, minority issues, climate change, education.  All the big ones.  But it wasn’t until I was nestled amongst a sea of pink hats and humanity that I realized why I was really there.  By the way, there were quite a few disqualified Y chromosome people marching with me.

Women, and those with minority voices, have always played crucial roles in my success.  They are too often underrepresented, undermined, and undervalued.  So, from what some might call my “privileged” seat in society, I felt it was even more important for me to walk out my allegiance to them.

I marched because Donald Trump promised to serve all people.  And so far, his immediate circle of influence lacks the diversity to make that possible.  Having him hear our voices from his new home on his first day in office was a great start. Not everyone who needed to be heard could be there, so I was marching for them…and for all the people who’ve made a difference in my life.

I marched for my mom, who as a single parent took odd jobs teaching tennis lessons, tending bar, and fixing lawnmowers.  Always making less than the guy next to her who did the exact same job.  My mom never failed to take a college course and never got a failing grade.  Receiving her doctorate 35 years after taking her first class.

I marched for, and alongside, my friends Kent and Caanan.  Showing up with my support to protect their right to stay married.

I marched for my daughter Lauren, and my friend Tiffany.  Each survivors of sexual assault who now must watch a man who’s bragged about assaulting women lead our country for the next four years.

I marched for those so confused that they now believe in “alternative facts.”

I marched for my friends who lost all hope, and got suckered by a manipulative liar who placed a large bet on their fears and won bigly.

I marched as a reminder to those “who won” that they cannot ignore those who didn’t.  And I marched as a reminder to our representatives in Washington that they are bound by an oath to represent all those in their districts.

I marched to promote a global community of diverse members. The outcry of values and priorities aren’t solely “American issues” with isolated consequences.  Millions of others, on all 7 continents, took part in over 670 solidarity events. Our leader may say, “America First”, but we cannot claim to be “America Only”.

And I marched for that friend of mine, the Twitter commenter.  Apparently, there were some things I didn’t tell you.  I’m glad I told you about them now so we can put down our phones and get to the business of building a brighter future for us all.  And that’s something worth tweeting and re-tweeting about.

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11 Year Old Runaway Bride

To witness courage is to look into the big brown eyes of Nada Al-Ahdal, the 11 year old Yemeni girl whose recorded flight to freedom has become a viral sensation.

Nada’s will, to not only survive, but to live a life worth living is one everyone can identify with. I’m fortunate to have been born in a place where obstacles placed in the path of my pursuit of happiness were considerably smaller than Nada’s.

Being born isn’t a choice we make. But how we live is. It’s one thing to be dependent on the will of our parents as we develop through infancy. It’s another thing, entirely, to be subject to them until we die. We’re not an extension of our parents will…we are our own individual beings.

Nada refused to submit to an archaic cultural paradigm. She recognized it for what it was; a devaluation of her humanity. Regardless of religion, faith, or culture, a practice which impedes a person from their freedom to choose their own destiny is an unjust practice.

In many parts of the world child weddings are illegal, yet it continues. The cycle of poverty and ignorance is self-perpetuating in these practices. And they’re continually excused because of cultural and religious reasons. The real reasons, however, are painfully obvious. Money and power.

These weddings take place to secure financial agreements between families led by men who see women as commodities. Using religion and antiquated culture to deny these children, from what would seem to be reasonable, allows men to rationalize the concept of child brides…making other alternatives seem absurd.

Nada has demonstrated that her will has not been broken. I don’t know the statistics, but I think it safe to assume, most young girls (despite the acceptance of their culture) do not wish to be wed before they reach puberty. Unfortunately, as Nada said in her video, she’s seen – in her own family – the consequences of these forced/arranged marriages. Abuse followed by horrific suicides. She believed a better life existed for her…and she dreamed of achieving it. Despite attempts to strip away the innocence of her youth, Nada struggled for the ability to make her own choices. And that has made her dream become a reality. It’s helped me realize that I can do something, as well. And so can you…

Talk about this. Write about it. Pass this video along. But don’t stop there. Help make her plight known by calling or emailing your elected officials. Make noise. Add political pressure to a conversation that deserves more attention. Exchange information and engage in dialog! Just do something…anything! Doing so will lead to a world where the sanctioned brokering of human lives will finally come to an end.

Related articles

Nada Al-Ahdal: don’t kill the dreams of children (theglobaloyster.wordpress.com)
‘Go ahead and marry me off I’ll kill myself’ Escaped child bride, 11, explains why she fled (aworldchaos.wordpress.com)
Girl’s online plea highlights plight of Yemen’s child brides (bbc.co.uk)

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