Guest Editor – Why I March
By Mel Leviton
A person I know asked why I participated in the Women’s March. First, I want to thank them for their respectful question. I appreciate what I know is their sincerity. This is long…
>I March because I’ve been accosted verbally and threatened physically several times in the last year, specifically related to my disability. I’ve been surrounded and threatened by men in a parking lot in broad daylight. No one stepped in and offered help. In the weeks immediately after the Election, twice, male drivers swerved as if to hit me, then laugh and call me derogatory names.
>I March because I’m a woman married to a Mexican-American woman. I live in a state where I can be fired for that. We’re tired of being afraid.
>I March for Bathrooms — ALWAYS a disability issue. One of my favorite diners still doesn’t have an ADA compliant bathroom. Do you know that Trump Hotels aren’t ADA compliant? The law is nearly 27 years old. Do you know I can’t get to a bathroom on a plane? The Air Carrier Access Act 1986, still hasn’t really fixed that. And bathrooms aren’t just a Trans issue. Bathrooms are also a Dyke issue. I’ve been shamed out of bathrooms my whole life, though I use the one I’m built to use. The only people who physically attacked me in a bathroom were straight males (or so they indicated). And straight women are all about the verbal assault when they think I’m in the wrong bathroom. I March for a person to use the bathroom they are comfortable using. Family or unisex bathrooms are a good fix for parents, people with disabilities and people who don’t wish to be harassed in bathrooms.
>I March because if I lose my job or insurance coverage through my job for either my wife or I, we will not be able to get insurance due to disability, AKA, pre-existing conditions.This could not only happen through changes or repeal of the Affordable Care Act, but also due to possible repeal of our rights as a married couple.
>I March for the young, black, disabled, high school student from Dietrich, Idaho who was harassed, sexually assaulted and traumatized, yet his attackers walk freely among us. Meanwhile, the young man and his family had to move. We know that people with disabilities, particularly black, brown, female, LBGT or other marginalized populations are more often victims of crime and that their attackers more frequently go free, even in the case of murder.
>I March for the working class from which I’m from and to which I belong. I’ve scratched and clawed my way to where I am. I’ve remade myself more times than I can count. It’s time to be honest: job loss, be it timber, steel, coal or oil – job loss is due to an ever increasing reliance on technology. Technology that doesn’t need us to do anything but use it. We need to think way deeper than bringing back jobs from either overseas or mining coal. The robots are not going away.
>I March because my parents taught me a love, respect and appreciation or the beauty of the Tetons, Yosemite, mountains, lakes, rivers and the stars at night. I’m not so sure my grandchildren will have that same opportunity between climate change and ratcheting up a nuclear arms race.
>I March because women fought to have access to science and math. I believe science is real.
>I March because I don’t mind guns for everyday sportsman use or the protection of home and property. I do mind semi-automatic weapons in the hands of a public not trained to use them. I’m tired and saddened with the hearing of the last and next point and shoot – no skill needed.
>I March for Planned Parenthood and the women and families who need it. Contraception reduces abortion. I’m pro-choice, not pro-abortion. But I will fight for my sister’s right to a safe abortion, if that’s what she needs to do to keep her life together. And I don’t want to hear about ripping babies from wombs in late term abortions. That’s a health decision. Planned Parenthood provides many health and reproductive services, including cancer screenings for low income women and men.
>I March for our daughters, sons and their families. I March because all of our grandchildren come in shades of brown, not white or pink.
>I March for my friends, strangers, Natives, Refugees, Muslims, Jews, Christians, and Atheists. The US used to care about refugees from war torn counties. I March because I’ve seen the face of home-grown, white terrorists. They scare me way more than any refugee.
>I March because I’m still ticked off about the bank bailout. And the lack of help for student loan debt… to which I’m reconciled.
>I March to bring back technical training, life skills, the arts and critical thinking to our public schools; and lower the cost of higher education, including technical schools. I March to make sure that kids with disabilities, no matter their color or where they live or how much money they have or don’t have, get the same education as kids without disabilities.
>I March for fair wages, fair hiring, fair housing, transportation access, and food and clean water access: no matter your color, disability, religion or gender identity.
>I March because I do not understand a a United States that welcomes Russia, but condemns opening doors to Cuba. Bay of Pigs… Remember… weekly drills, cowering under your school desk, thinking quietly, “this isn’t going to help.” You know those missiles were Russian, right?
>I March because a qualified US citizens should be allowed to vote. Who the hell tries to keep citizens from voting? That’s a rhetorical question. I know who. Many of us, Women, Native Tribes, Blacks, Disabled, Hispanics FOUGHT for the right to vote. That fight has been won. But here we are, still fighting.
>I March because about a year-an-a-half ago, I foolishly thought the world was getting kinder, at least in the United States. What a difference 18 months makes. Clearly I was naïve and thinking only about my own small victories.
>I March because I haven’t been this afraid for this long in many, many years. It’s a gnawing fear, which I sometimes fight to the brink in an effort to hold back total paralysis.
I haven’t felt safe in a crowd in at least six months. That Saturday, amongst mostly strangers, a lot of strangers, I felt safe. I felt protected. Perhaps more significant, I felt able to protect those around me. I wasn’t alone anymore. I March first for myself and my reasons. I march for friends who wanted to, but had to work, were too sick or essentially homebound due to lack of supports or transportation. I March for many, many other reasons and even more people.
I won’t stop marching.