On January 21, 2017, many Network Board members and Network friends attended the Boston Women’s March and the Washington, D.C., Women’s March. Others participated through various media outlets in spirit, dedication, and alliance.

Here is what two Board participants shared about their experiences:

I felt a profound sense of community being surrounded by so many kind, caring, peaceful people in support of human rights. Seeing people from all generations, all walks of life, all races, all genders . . . sharing a common value of respect for all people was so moving. Speakers from different sectors of our larger communities spoke with passion and commitment and inspired us all to get involved in our local communities and act. – Robin Smith, Boston Women’s March

To see so many women gathering to support each other in protecting our human rights was moving and inspiring, as was having such a diverse group of speakers, urging us to recognize and fight against many forms of oppression that interact in their impact on women – like racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, and classism. While there were powerful, angry calls for action, there were also equally powerful calls for love and solidarity. – Hillary Turkewitz, Washington, D.C., Women’s March

Although the Women’s March drew enormous crowds and highlighted the power of mobilized citizens, the Network acknowledges there are still broad swaths of people who feel marginalized, overshadowed, and tokenized. Historically, oblivious inattention and non-recognition have marked other movements and protests, including feminist, that have been organized primarily within the dominant American white culture. There were other resistance movements including DisruptJ20, and Boston People’s Inauguration that received little press coverage.

For yet another perspective, read the conflicted feelings expressed by Ijeoma Oluo during an interview with Robin Young, January 24, 2017, on NPR’s “Here and Now:”

“You know, it was a mix. It was wonderful to know that so many people were taking to the streets and were speaking out, but if you are a person of color who has been fighting for black lives and brown lives, if you are a water protector who has been hosed down in Standing Rock, you have been begging people to stand next to you for so long. So, it can be hard to look at it and not wonder how many lives could be saved if we had even a tenth of these many people showing up at a Black Lives Matter march to push for police accountability and to push for reform.”

So, what can individuals do now if we are going to sustain and promote momentum in support of fundamental human rights, justice, equity, and inclusion?

Here are a few next steps:

1) Attend our Strengthening Winchester: A Civic Gathering on Thursday, February 2, from 7 – 9 pm at the Jenks Center, Cummings Room, 109 Skillings Road, Winchester. Here we will identify and discuss attainable next steps to amplify our town’s human rights values and continue building a resilient and robust community.

2) At every assembly of concerned activists, look around and see whose voice is “seated at the table.” Name what you see and take action to bring all voices and perspectives into dialogue. That is the multicultural/intercultural/cross-culture work that is vital in our democratic society.

2) Sign up for www.womensmarch.com as they create 10 action items in 100 days, the first of which is to send post cards to our US senators with why we marched and what matters to us most. The Network will have printed postcards addressed to MA Senators Markey and Warren available for you on February 2 at the civic gathering.

3) Sign up for www.indivisibleguide.com, a guide written by former congressional staffers about how best to resist, so Congress will listen. Senators and Representatives often are deluged by negative, critical correspondence. Another tack is paying attention to specific legislation and votes. Then, send your supportive, appreciative comment to legislators voting the perspective you prefer. Let them know you have their back!

Robin Smith, Lead Author
Contributors: Aba Taylor, Gloria Legvold, Hillary Turkewitz

January 25, 2017