It was a cold, dreary day. Actually, it had been a week of cold, dreary, lifeless and sunshine-less days all in a row here in Detroit. We were deep into the dull abyss of winter and I was feeling that deadly January vitamin D deficiency creep into my mentality and overall disposition. That's when I took to Facebook and asked, "Ok friends, who's going to the Women's March in Washington DC?”
For me, it's impossible not to care about human and civil rights issues. I live and work in Detroit and am an active member of our Corktown community - and while I’m surrounded by so many amazing humans of all walks of life, my "bubble" is also bombarded by every social issue that exists. While that may make your skin thick, it softens your heart. When you see pain, struggle and soul at its raw, bone-chilling core, you can’t NOT stop and ask yourself how to make a change.
As I sat on my couch and read my favorite framed quote hanging on our wall, it became blatantly clear that I had to go, not necessarily for myself (although, yes I went to be heard) but more so for the people that couldn't be there. As a woman who was born into the skin shade of white, I’m aware that I’ve weirdly been given a more privileged life than a lot of people in this country and around the world. I know that while growing up just 15 minutes outside of Detroit, I was gifted with opportunities that my neighbors in the city never had. I understand that in this crazy society my voice somehow carries louder and farther than others who are silenced based on the color of their skin, the neighborhoods or cities they grew up in, and the lack of education they were provided. And so I realize it is my civic duty to raise my voice for them - my sisters and brothers. And also for our Mother Earth, who doesn't have a voice to whisper. And yes for me too, because even though I have a loud voice, it can and is still being silenced by men.
You see, Eldorado is built on fundamental issues that move humanity forward. We stock the shelves and support female business owners, work closely with fair trade companies to make sure everyone is paid fairly and has a safe work environment, and we strongly believe in sustainable practices that keep Mother Earth and our impact front of mind. While these issues might be deemed "political," I think we can all agree they are important to the future of our planet and the people that live on it - now and for generations to come. I can not and will not back down from my mission to provide education about positive purchasing power and my sense to protect Mother Earth and all her children. That’s why I marched. I marched because I believe in equality and human rights. And that this great country was built by an amazing collaboration of immigrants - like my grandparents - looking for a better life. The American Dream. And because I COULD go to the Women’s March in Washington DC, I went for those who couldn’t.
It was very clear that if you were a person who wanted to participate in this event, others would do anything in their power to help facilitate the journey to Washington DC to share your voice. People opened up their cars and couches to friends and complete strangers. I found a ride with a good buddy, neighbor and Eldorado vendor - Jane of Sfumato and made four new friends that I will forever be connected to. One provided a ride, another an Aunt's house we could stay at.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous the morning we set out, I ate my apple and bagel. Drank my coffee. And wrote my name, emergency contact information and the address I was staying at in sharpie on my arm.
We shuffled along. Unable to really take steps. The amount of people was almost suffocating. While we stood trying to hear the speakers and performers, we were sandwiched side by side. There was no room to move or stretch, yet we stayed for three hours. Patiently listening and waiting to march. Cell phone reception was scarce to nonexistent. Finally, we heard a drum beat and a message shouted out. A group of what appeared to be seasoned activists delivered our first true understanding of what was happening. The Washington Post had said all streets were blocked with people. We, collectively, were too many people to march. We had all shown up. It was this packed everywhere. Wow, that was an empowering feeling. The crowd went wild and together we took it upon ourselves to lead the Women’s March through the National Mall and down the streets of our country’s capital.
We made history on Saturday, January 21st, together. Collectively. Historians will talk about this march for decades, maybe even centuries. Every single person made a big step towards change. There was a march with millions of people, spanning 7 continents, filmed on every major news channel across the world, and was the largest protest gathering in US history. Saturday I marched with so many people of all different ages, genders, races, ethnicities and religions. It felt like millions - and combined it was - each one standing in solidarity for basic human rights. And for Mother Earth. For injustices. For our bodies and our genders. For our races and religions. For respect. For everyone. There were so many signs. So many things people wanted to be heard.
As I look through the images I captured of the Women’s March in Washington DC, I see focused faces. We’re not celebrating, we’re rolling up our sleeves. This wasn’t a party to wear pink pussyhats. This was a battle cry announcement that we won’t be silenced, moved aside or ignored. This was a stand for what we, as a majority of the United States of America, believe in. And will peacefully, yet diligently fight for.
It’s been a very interesting and emotional few days since. I keep bouncing between overwhelmed and inspired - trying to focus on how we harness the power and energy we captured that day, while simultaneously understanding that there will always be naysayers slowing down our forward movement. We must NOT let the people who don't understand what we are all fighting for, stand in the way of progress. Throughout history, there has always been oppression in the face of freedom and struggle in the face of victory. We shall overcome.
But make no mistake, we are only just getting started. The march was just the gathering - a contagious and steadfast rally and the first step in a tireless effort to reaching equality. There is a long, uphill battle from here. There will be frustrations along the way, but the Women’s March took place globally so we can look back and remember all those brothers and sisters that stood in solidarity - reminding us the struggle is worth it. Our planet is worth it. Equality is worth it. The future of humanity is worth it. Change comes in the form of action. And so we roll up our sleeves and get down to business. Now, we organize. Now, we find our political purpose and passion. Now, we use our talents. And get to work making change. Because just as the people chanted through the streets of our nation’s capital on that historic day, “This is what democracy looks like.”