“Sí, se puede”
Reflections and Photos by Hannah Betts
Images have always been my words. Being a quieter person, this has allowed me to speak louder than I normally would. I don’t believe this is enough anymore. Having a son has given me a voice I didn’t think I had and a motivation that has been quieted by my fear.
Growing up in a conservative family, I began, at an early age, to question many things that I was being taught. These questions were answered by reading and moving from my small town to NYC. I will encourage my son to ask questions and to seek the answers outside of what he has known.
One of my favorite quotes is by the incredible author and activist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “I would like today to ask that we begin to dream about and plan for a different world. A fairer world. And this is how to start: We must raise our daughters differently. We must also raise our sons differently.” This. This is what I took with me to the Women’s March. I will teach my son this truth. And teach him to see with his heart open. I will teach him to focus on integrity and ability, not gender. I will teach him to read and then read more because this how we educate ourselves beyond our own worlds. My husband will teach him to be a proud latino. And we will teach him there is so much strength in empathy and that this is how systemic change will happen.
I have heroines, the ones you read about and the ones that change the world with words, action and solidarity. On that Saturday I was so fortunate to hear some of them. Gloria Steinem, Janet Mock, Angela Davis and Linda Sarsour were among the women who spoke over a roaring crowd of people who may have just been introduced to them. One woman behind me asked who Janet Mock was…I spoke proudly of this woman. She will now never forget who Janet Mock is. And I will never forget Sophie Cruz who spoke her truth in both english and spanish. She reminds us everyday that “sí se puede.” Francis will know of this day when I stood side by side people who have been persecuted just for being who they are. He will understand that I was fortunate enough to be there in that March when so many others could not be. I will read him the words that are so powerful they are igniting change. And I will teach him we cannot be quiet, especially when there are voices so loud today that even a 2 year old can hear them.
Words, action and solidarity are my truths moving forward.
“I stand here because above all I am my sister’s keeper.” — Janet Mock
“How Quickly We Forget”
Reflections by Imani Dodley
Photos by Hannah Betts
Every day I am reminded of the number of things that I forget. Whether it is an appointment that I scheduled with my doctor, picking up my laundry or lunch with a friend. I forget time and time again and it’s when I’m in the midst of the next thing that I recall that I had forgotten something that I promised myself that I wouldn’t.
I recall the solidarity and the messages from the women that stood upon that stage and poured out their hearts around not being heard, bullied, glass ceilings, rights for their bodies, racism and violence. Also, I retell of the feeling of anxiety and fear that you could sense around these issues not only personally but those that stood in the crowd for their daughters, granddaughters, sisters, wives, transgendered sons in a country that they said was born free. The emotions were palpable. You could almost see the emotions raising up in the air like balloons of many colors while some held onto the strings hoping that someone wouldn’t pop them.
I was also taken back by the many messages and platforms that came to Washington. The signs said it all. From the iconic, “still I rise” to the prophetic, “white silence is white violence,” and then the simple truth, “indivisible.” But within these messages I was caught between the humor and ridiculousness of the fact that women, men, children were still marching for the same damn thing or things that I thought were resolved. From the idea that “science is real” and rights of women that was captured in the sign, “I can’t believe I still have to march for this shit!”
But how quickly we forget.
We forget so often the shoulders that we stand on for those that have marched, protested, helped get into legislature and even fought and died over for the rights of so many men and women. We forget about StoneWall and those that protested and rioted for the rights of the LGBTQIA community. We forget about those that stood in the streets in Washington for Civil Rights and that were killed like Dr. Martin Luther King for the rights of African Americans. We forget about those who have been deemed enemies of the state when speaking up for a truth. We forget about the treaties we have made with Native Americans. We forget about the countless rapes of women within our country and we forget about the legislatures that we have moved through congress that protects the bodies of all. All of these within our lifetime of history.
But how quickly we forget.
We forget about Dontre Hamilton, Eric Garner, John Crawford, Michael Brown, Ezell Ford, Dante Parker, Tanisha Anderson, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, Tony Robinson, Freddie Gray, Trayvon Martin and the countless others killed sparking Black Lives Matter. We forget about the fact that there still is NO clean drinking water in Flint, Michigan for over 1000 days and the protests around that but we moved, rightfully so, to the fear of water being contaminated by the threat of the DAPL and stood with the Sioux Indian but we almost forgot about that as well.
So what is all this forgetting about? I think that is what struck me most about the Women’s March. So much we have forgotten about. It made me stop in my tracks when I saw the statistics in Flint, Michigan. I mean what the hell? The water system is still in complete disarray and children are getting sick right here and all we can be focused on is a wall, stopping those women from getting abortions and who someone is sleeping with. For me, it is ridiculous.
But maybe I will forget. Again.
Or maybe not.
Maybe that is why monuments are built. So that we don’t forget. Maybe that is why Jesus reminds us that every time that we come to the communion table with the words, “do this in remembrance of me” because God understood how quickly we can forget what is important. That meeting at the table, is a reminder that we should be about caring for the poor in body and spirit, that we should practice being non-violent, comfort others, feed and clothe those in need, practice mercy, be about peace and stand in the truth of all humanity.
We forget the spirit of “do unto others” and forget the call to protect and defend the vulnerable when we block people from atrocities and violence all in the idea that we are called to be self absorbed.
But on now this historical day of January 21, 2017, I have built my monument and I have come to the table to remember so that I can continue to raise my voice and utilize my hands and feet for those that are vulnerable because if I do not, maybe the prophetic words of Deitrich Bonhoeffer will become true:
“For they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionist but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.”