This is How We Illuminate

On January 21st, women from all over the world united and made history as the largest demonstration to ever occur in U.S. history, especially after a presidential inauguration. Trump’s campaign has insulted and ridiculed the essence of what a woman stands for as well as their value to this world. His presidency has shocked many people and has put into question what America will become under the surveillance of a very privileged man. As a young girl of color, I felt hopeless because I truly believed that after Barack Obama we, as a country, could change the face of our presidents. In the weekend of Trump’s Inauguration Day, two things gave me hope.

First, my parents got married on Trump’s Inauguration Day after being partners for 23 years. Their rose-colored cheeks and starlit smiles were contagious so instead of watching Trump’s inauguration speech, I witnessed the way my parents illuminate a room: through love. Their love has kept them strong and motivated to keep fighting under immigration laws and Hispanic discrimination. My parents are the strongest people I have ever met. The stories they have told me about their experiences in the Dominican Republic and in America have kept me at awe of what they are capable of.  

By extension, they have also showed me that humans can endure a great deal of pain yet still have enough space in their heart to love authentically and radically. This lesson reminds me so much of the ways Martin Luther King Jr. advocated for not only equality but a nation built on love, not nationalism or hate. Collectively, we must try to love outside our biological relationships and learn to authentically love others for who they are. We should aim to make relationships that transform our ways of thinking and advocate for the best version of ourselves to shine, instead of being confined to transactional relationships (boss-worker, teacher-student, etc.) because that's what everyone else is doing. My parents aren't radical social justice warriors but when I told my mom she was getting married on Trump’s Inauguration Day, she shrugged. “It doesn't matter,” she said and I agree.

Secondly, the Women’s Marches in America gave me so much hope. I was unable to attend but watching live streams on Facebook, seeing news channels broadcasting it on television, watching Instagram stories, and liking so many pictures of my friends who went to the march made me incredibly happy. In a world where women are constantly divided by race, sex assigned at birth, socioeconomic class, sexuality, education, physical appearances, and so much more, this march was symbolic of what women can do as a collective if we set aside our differences. We are constantly told we should see each other as competition instead of companions in a cis, straight, white male dominated society. These protests were just the beginning of a revolution under Trump’s presidency. We will not accept any attempts of our country to alienate, discriminate, or harass women. I am so proud of everyone who marched with pride and glory for who they are as a feminist and as a someone who advocates for a better future for America. The sister marches were an amazing way to empower all women and all feminists (who aren't just women as well!) to participate in a historic event.

This is how we illuminate: through marches, revolutions, protests, riots, demonstrations, and love. 2017 is the year in which women will create a light that cannot be ignored because we are the future of America and we will not let this world divide us.

By Natalia Mercedes Rodriguez

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