I distinctly remember my first protest march. My school’s soccer team was supposed to play the Columbine soccer team the day of the now-infamous mass shooting. The NRA’s annual convention was slated to be held in downtown Denver days after the shooting took place. They did not cancel their convention out of respect for the victims, as many had hoped they would.
So, we marched. We circled their hotel, holding hands, singing songs, and crying. I was 17 years old.
My next protest march took place in downtown Boston. Under the leadership of George W. Bush, the U.S. had just invaded Iraq. As a graduating senior with a degree in modern political history, I was bursting with ideas and passion. After all, I had just learned how world wars were started – power games between state and non-state actors, alliances, domino effects. My friends and I were convinced the invasion was a mistake, and while we didn’t know it at the time, we would end up being right.
So, we marched.
A year or so later, now freshly ensconced in the progressive Bay Area, a friend asked if I wanted to join something called the March for Women’s Lives in Washington, D.C. Women’s equality, fair pay, and reproductive freedom have always been cornerstone values for me, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to join with thousands of others in celebrating and advancing them. And so, ignoring the hordes of anti-choice protesters holding graphic signs, we marched. That march changed my life and led me to work professionally on women’s reproductive health issues for nearly a decade.
“… you cannot isolate reproductive freedom from environmental justice, racial inequity from economic achievement, or education from poverty.”
Now it is 2017, and I am no longer a fresh-faced teenager or an idealistic college student. I’m a mother, a wife, and a leader at a respected environmental organization. I am much more aware of my privilege, which has influenced in uncountable ways the opportunities I have been given and successes I have achieved. I am acutely attuned to the connectivity of privilege, and how you cannot isolate reproductive freedom from environmental justice, racial inequity from economic achievement, or education from poverty. These issues are inextricably linked – to march for one value means marching for them all.
And so, this Saturday, Jan. 21, I will march in Oakland, this time joined by my husband and our two-year-old son. I will march for women’s reproductive justice and equality. I will march because Black Lives Matter, and I cannot escape nor deny my own white privilege or that of my son’s. I will march against climate change deniers because facts are facts, and in the coastal Bay Area we are on the front lines of this battle. I will march for peace around the world and in the streets of Oakland, the city I now call home. I will march for my friends and family members who don’t conform to typical gender roles and should have the same freedom to follow their hearts and love who they love. I will march for immigrants because less than two generations ago it was my grandmother on the boat far from her home seeking a better life.
I will represent Save The Bay at this march, but not just Save The Bay. When I march on Saturday, I will be marching for all of my values and all of the communities that I hold dear.
I hope you will march with me.