January 24, 2017

Don’t Tell us Marching Doesn’t Matter.

Thank you #MBTA for free subway rides to the #womensmarch #bostonmarchforwomen #boston

A photo posted by Ce (@cebrooks_photos) on

As we arrived at the Boston Common, Beth remembered summers when we stripped the girls down to diapers at the frog pond.

I thought of the bouncy ground at the playground where the girls chased, climbed and crawled. We were monkey-bar moms, spotting each other in the days when there wasn’t a minute to pee, sleep, shower, eat, rest or read.

“Can I come with you?” one woman asked. We don’t usually talk politics or socialize much because we’re in the SMU crew (Single Moms Unite), and we help with rides to work, sports, events or school.

I learned she teaches English, which is not her first or even second language. Margaret told me this, because they had been together at South Station talking to strangers while waiting for a train. Margaret is an environmental activist and art professor who rides her bike to the park all summer to paint landscapes. She’s 74.

“That is where I was when the bomb went off,” my daughter said which she says every time we go near the Common. She was with her Dad in the early years of our separation. “We were playing. We thought it was lightning,” she said. We both know she meant thunder.

Fear is always physical at first. I grabbed her hand.

I didn’t say our president reminds me of relative, who asked, “Are you a good boy or a bad girl?”—and laughed while I cried, “I’m a good girl. I’m a good girl.”

The same guy who made a tween walk naked—from the shower to the kitchen, where he sat playing solitaire—to prove I was clean. I was told he was the harmless kind of dirty old man, but my body knew better. 

This is why I marched—because alternative facts are terrifying, and assuming the best of others is not always a kindness.

When truth and goodness are considered optional, I get scared.

I marched because I won’t be overpowered again without resistance. I won’t be stripped of dignity, rights, clothing and told I don’t know my own feelings.

I marched because I already know the words of this song, and I won’t sing along.

I marched for myself and for others. I marched to be seen and heard—and to see and witness. I marched to learn and listen as well.

One sign read: “Put avocado on racism so white people will listen.”

Sometimes the truth has teeth and a mouth that bites. “Sadly, that is true,” I said—and I meant it, though I wished I added “sometimes.”

Who makes a sign like that unless hungry for acknowledgement long overdue or denied?

I remember after the bombing, how I thought shutting down subways, streets and suburbs was an extreme overreaction. It’s possible to function and work while afraid or in danger. Some of us do it all the time.

I was jealous of the “Boston Strong” movement which felt raw, small and ugly. I was thinking where is “Survivor Strong” or any response at all to family and community violence? There are bombs going off between sheets, meals and on the way to and from school every day for some. Where is the justice when the terrorism is from parents, priests or police?

I marched because I don’t want my daughter to react like I did. I marched because I don’t want anyone
to learn to do life while traumatized. I marched because safety shouldn’t be a luxury.

I marched because I have crazy thoughts I can’t dismiss.

I marched to keep despair from pinning me down and bowling me over. I did not march to have a pity party parade, or because my candidate didn’t win. It was not a “Project Runway” pink hat challenge or frivolous in any way.

This march was purposeful, peaceful and powerful.

It was not rose-colored glasses that turned the world pink—it was the warmth of our hopes and hearts, knitted together.

We are the engines that keep starting and keep going. We cook and clean and work and write. We parent and partner and change diapers and laws. We put each other back together after violence, loss, tragedy and injustice. Often, what we do is private. This time we showed the world who, and how, and what we are—with pride and in public.

We marched to remember that there are peaceful warriors everywhere—and I am one, but not alone.

It mattered. We matter.

Don’t say it does no good, when I can feel the good again. Don’t say it makes no difference.

We are rescuing one another.



Author:  Christine “Cissy” White

Images: Instagram @cebrooks_photos

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

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