Women's March. Pensacola, Florida. January 21, 2017.
I was there.
There were many Women's Marches that day throughout the United States and the world. This one, however, had an extra spark of passion driving it forward. And no wonder! In a town that had endured a history of lynching, police raids on gay clubs, and the burning of their family planning clinic only a few years ago, they were not going to let anything stop their voice from being heard.
Nothing could stop them...not even the severe thunderstorm.
Over a thousand marchers stood in the rain in lightning, chanting and marching together. They knew that the thunderstorm was temporary, but that the socio-political shit storm could be permanent, and they were not going down without a fight.
The gray overcast scene was lit up with hope, love, and passion as seasoned marchers who had helped as far back as the 1950's marched alongside their children and grandchildren to support the rights of women, LGBT, racial minorities, Muslims, and all others who felt scared and oppressed by the new administration.
However, not all the voices raised that day shouted words of equality. One man stood alone on a street corner with a sign pointed at the marchers to let them know that he didn't support the march...and he didn't support women. Period.
His sign read: "You Deserve Rape"
This of course was not only disrespectful, but was a trigger for many of the women there as 1 in 5 women are victims of some sort of sexual assault, abuse, or even rape. I am among these women.
The marchers fought back by yelling at him, taunting him, pulling on his sign, and covering his sign with their own. He was loving it. When I asked them to put their signs down so I could get an image of his to capture what the "other side" had to say, some of the marchers got angry with me. They claimed his voice shouldn't be heard.
I disagree. There are many people I have talked to that don't believe these kinds of people exist. A lot of people who don't know why there was even a march, and that we are upset about nothing. People need to see that the issue is very much alive. People need to see what we are fighting for: a world where women don't have to endure this kind of cruelty. And yes, this cruelty does exist.
We cannot gain our freedom while we use our voice to oppress the voice of others.
When marching for human rights and making your voice heard, don't let your focus be to silence the other side. Make your goal to spread our idea of peace and equality. Ideas are contagious, but they are only spread by example. Everyone wants a voice, and telling one side they can't speak, but you can, will only make them feel oppressed as well. Don't try to silence the voice of the hateful, try to change their voice to a voice of love. That should be the goal. Put your energy into love and freedom, and others will follow.
Trump is one hateful voice, but he was met by millions of voices of love that day. So, too, when you see that one person on the corner with a hateful voice, meet their voice with love.
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." -Martin Luther King Jr.
Published by K. J. Cordova