Here we are. Right here in Astoria, Oregon. Look at us! We are marvelous. We are powerful! And today, we honor those who struggled before us so that we have the glorious privilege to gather here today. We are grateful for the long arc of herstory, of progress, the arc of justice — that is the American dream. Those who believed that dream have given us words and songs and images that keep the dream moving forward — Just like a stream that’s standing by the water, We shall not be moved.
Because of those who steps we follow today, we know that the rainbow arc of justice does not yet embrace everyone. We know that there is a place at the table for everyone. So, it becomes our duty to stand up, to speak out, to resist the forces that seek to dismiss, diminish or destroy the long and persistent arc of justice. This is our responsibility. This is why we march. But this is not the only reason we march.
We also have a responsibility to spread this message, to help those who do not understand that the arc of justice includes them, even when we disagree. It is our task to remember that, as well. The arc is long. It can appear polarizing. But an arc, just like the rainbow, is a circle. When we bend the arc to complete the circle, the polarizing ends are next to each other.
In these times which we are made for, we must discover ways to enact those lofty ideas cited in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. We need to practice being comfortable with the discomfort of these times. We need to practice taking to the streets when we’d rather stay home, or hang with friends. We need to practice seeing beyond our own lives so that we can see the connections that swirl around us, and touch us because that is what unifies us. Especially in times like these.
So I want to practice. Here. Now. I ask that you practice with me. Let’s say these words with strong voices, speaking together:
I am a woman! I am a man. I am queer. I am transgender. I am black. I am brown. I am Native American. I am a water protector. I am Asian (and to the Supreme Court) I am Slant. I am an immigrant. I am undocumented. I am homeless. I am a prisoner. I am a guard. I am law enforcement. I am Jewish. I am Muslim. I am a Goddess. I am a child. I am the environment. I am history.
I am herstory!
You see, we all matter, but only if Black Lives matter as much as everybody else. We all matter, as long as the water, our life-blood, matters as much. We all matter as long as the air we breathe matters as much. We are all of this and much more. This! This is who we are! And this marvelous diversity is exactly what makes us vulnerable to a straight-thinking, overlysimplistic, dualistic, either/or mind-set. We must embrace our complexities — our complicated and elaborate and convoluted lives. And to different degrees some of us relish the messiness of it all. What sets us apart from rigid authority is that we deeply believe that when our most basic rights — life, liberty, and the pursuit of justice — are supported, then our lives are freed up to risk creative innovation, experimental ideation, new possibilities, comingling and transformation. We see what we can become.
Last night, I checked out the website whitehouse.gov. I searched for LGBTQ information. Nothing. I searched for the Native News link. Gone. I searched for immigration issues and climate change. Nothing. Always the same message, “Sorry the page you’re looking for can’t be found.” I searched for Black Lives Matter. Nothing. When I searched for information on “African Americans,” Obama popped up. When I searched for “Civil Rights”, Abraham Lincoln popped up, and James Buchanan, and several other interesting but historical findings…and a redirect to the Executive Branch of Government because the search engine found the words “civil” employees and “rights.” Most of the issues that I searched for no longer exist, or have been replace with a reference that incorporates a repetitive line, “trade deals working for all Americans.” This is not my America. This does not represent us. Nor does the whitehouse.gov website recognize Women’s Rights. And so, today we march. We march for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families. We march in unity with the DC Women’s March organizers who declare: "In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. We send a bold message to our new government on this first day in office, and to the world, that women's rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us." This is why we march! We march together with a renewed and energized spirit. We march with protective anger and fierce love.
Just as singer-songwriter, Melanie DeMore says, “You gotta put one foot in front of the other and lead with love.” Can you say that back to me?
You gotta put one foot in front of the other and lead with love.
YOU GOTTA PUT ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF THE OTHER
AND LEAD WITH LOVE, PUT
ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF THE OTHER AND LEAD WITH LOVE! (x2)
1) DON’T GIVE UP HOPE (DON’T GIVE UP HOPE)
YOU’RE NOT ALONE (YOU’RE NOT ALONE)
DON’T YOU GIVE UP (DON’T YOU GIVE UP) KEEP MOVIN’ ON (KEEP MOVIN’ ON).
2) LIFT UP YOUR EYES (LIFT UP YOUR EYES)
DON’T YOU DESPAIR (DON’T YOU DESPAIR)
LOOK UP AHEAD (LOOK UP AHEAD)
THE PATH IS THERE (THE PATH IS THERE)
3) I KNOW YOU’RE SCARED (I KNOW YOU’RE SCARED)
AND I’M SCARED TOO (AND I’M SCARED TOO)
BUT HERE I AM (BUT HERE I AM)
RIGHT NEXT TO YOU (RIGHT NEXT TO YOU)!
Today. We are the Women’s Movement. And we march together toward justice for all!