I truly didn’t know what I was signing up for when I committed to attending the March for Justice in Downtown Ventura. I decided to bring my camera, meet some friends and coworkers, and make my presence felt in a country that is just beginning the transition to President Trump.
As I walked to Plaza Park, I could hear- and feel- the energy emanating from this small block-wide park in Downtown Ventura. Jade Hendrix was riffing on the guitar and people were already packed in tightly, with droves coming and coming as the clock struck 10 am. I was sign-less, and voiceless from my seasonal coaching duties, but I was armed with a purpose to stand in solidarity with a gender that is often marginalized.
The best part of the demonstration was that the energy was not all directed towards President Trump and the dissatisfaction with his election; rather, the energy was focused on the issues at hand. Issues like keeping funds for Planned Parenthood, equal wages for females, protecting the environment, gay rights, and pro-immigration. All of these issues dominated the creative and expressive signs that spread throughout the park. The purpose was to unite and come together as a whole- a feeling that felt absent during the inauguration.
As I listened to conversations from groups of people around me, I heard a lot of them discussing their feelings of isolation and helplessness since President Trump was elected in November. Yet, the dissatisfaction they felt could not be suppressed for long. There was a growing amount of optimism and power that continued to percolate around the park as the morning wore on. From the statistics regarding the march, this sense of optimism seemed to spread throughout the entire country- and globe, for that matter. Over three million people around the world came out to demonstrate their feelings and what they value in life. In Washington DC alone, there were three times as many people there to march compared to those attended President Trump’s inauguration. In Los Angeles, the LAPD said that over 500,000 people peacefully protested. The numbers are staggering, and they show the power that people have when they come together over issues that matter. Hopefully this energy will not be lost as the year marches on.
As we marched, I saw so many young females there with their mothers. Seeing this made me think of giving birth. How excruciating that must be! But, I can also imagine that birth can be beautiful. That first moment when you see your little baby boy or girl has to be one of the most heartwarming and surreal feelings a mother can have. Women are the ones who sustain our culture, our livelihood. Without them, our society is nothing. They stop working to give birth, and then possibly stay home to raise their child until they are old enough to attend school. That is the utmost sacrifice. Being a mother is a sacred job to say the least.
Because the reproductive system will never change, I then thought of women in the workplace and wondered: will women forever be underpaid because of the roles they also play as mothers? Women make 80% of what men make. The United States has no policy requiring maternity leave. The numbers range depending on where you get your information, but the United States ranks anywhere from 30-40th worldwide regarding women’s equality (women in government, pay gap, women CEOs, maternal deaths, etc.). Plain and simple, that’s why women went out to march.
As the rally wrapped up I went home and that’s when my little sister called. She is currently in the midst of graduate school, working as a full-time teacher, and is the head coach of the swim team at her local high school. Her passion and influence on the youth are not mistaken. She is a strong and independent female. Growing up, my family did everything for her as they had for me and my brother Yet, as we hung up I again got stuck in my mind. Women all over the world do not have proper access to education. Three years ago we did a service project in my class where we raised money to send three girls to school in Nepal. A young freshman girl in my class was appalled and shocked when she learned the cold, hard truth about females and education. There are a multitude of reasons for unequal education, with most of them stemming from gender and cultural norms, school related gender based violence, and early or forced marriage. These young ladies are excluded from education, and their hopes and dreams don't often see the light they deserve.
I continued to think of this as I made my way to school to coach a basketball game a few hours later.
After the first quarter our point guard went down with an injury that sent her to the hospital. For the rest of the game the girls fought. They constantly asked about their teammate, and in the meantime, they worked harder and more as a unit. These girls were strong. These girls were resilient. These emotionally intelligent women are the future leaders who are going to change the world. That’s what I love about my team. That’s what I love about my school. Girls who are encouraged to change the world, question the status quo and stand up for what they believe is right. These are the young, powerful, motivated and bright young ladies who will continue to carry the torch for equality. Even though these girls did not get the chance to march, they embodied the spirit present throughout the day. Fight for what you believe in, and fight for rights of females everywhere.