I am a woman. I am an immigrant. I am white. I am an American citizen. I am many things.
On January 21, 2017, one day after the inauguration of Donald J. Trump, I took a bus to the center of Florence to join in solidarity of the Women’s March. I wasn’t alone, in Florence we were about 200 American expats, Italians, Italian-Americans, and expats from other nations. We each came with different reasons, questions, and ideas. What can we do to make a difference in this tiny Tuscan town, an ocean away from the “real action” going on in Washington?
So we started talking.
Listening, I learned that there are so many reasons why we gathered. Some of us were cancer survivors, teachers, students, mothers, gay, straight, pregnant, Irish, Colombian, American and British. All of us existing together in Italy brought here for various reasons.
Our little march was a beautiful mix of people coming together to speak out to protect each others’ rights. We showed up for each other. We didn’t all speak powerful words into a megaphone, we didn’t all carry signs, but we did all show up.
There was understandably a lot of confusion about the marches and I think somewhere along the social media hullabaloo, the words “women’s march” got conflated with “pro-abortion”. If you want to read about the official march principles, their website outlines them nicely here. I marched because we are all humans and our rights are indivisible. Immigrants, refugees, women, men, gay, straight, trans, overweight, underweight, any and all people must be protected. Intersecting social identities means that all lives matter.
The women I met felt upset, confused, betrayed, tired, and let down just as much as I did. Since the election, I had been feeling a confusing loss of identity. In this strange limbo state of waiting on my immigration papers in Italy, I felt homeless and identityless, certainly not a part of Italian society and completely removed from American society. I felt ashamed of what was happening in America and helpless to do anything about it being so far away.
With the support of these women, I won’t let the shame of my country burden me into silence. I won’t avoid the subject and I will ask the tough questions. I’m upset and I’m getting active. I live abroad and I’ve decided I’m going to use google hangouts to make free phone calls to U.S. senators. I’m still looking for more ways to get involved from overseas, but I will do what I can in the meantime.
We can not stand to be silent anymore. We can not just “accept it and move on”. We are ALL on this planet together. I marched for ALL, because we can not separate women’s rights from human rights from LGBTQ rights. Because standing up for the rights of women includes refugee women, muslim women, pregnant women, black women, and impoverished women. None of us are safe while some of us are threatened. From the depths of my broken heart, I cry for those.
It is the right time to start doing something about it, however small.