Welcome to the Family

Yesterday, I was one of half a million humans who attended the #WomensMarch On Washington in the D.C. area. I wish I had words to describe the experience as a whole and what it means to me, and yet, even 24 hours later, words escape me.

The words I do have can tell you that the crowd was uplifting, optimistic, proud, loud, and driven for change. I can also tell you that the people beside and around me were incredibly diverse. Women, men, and those who are gender non-conforming and/or transgender from all walks of life, from all ages and all races, religions and ethnicities walked alongside one another, unified by two basic principles 1) their belief in human equity and 2) their belief that the current government regime threatened human rights. I can recall the sounds of the march as we chanted insulting rhymes about Trump, but we also sang “lean on me” across hundreds (maybe even thousands) of people at a time.

Yesterday, individuals became a movement and strangers became family.

Out of all the things that happened yesterday, out of all the things it could mean and should mean for us and the way our government listens to the voice of the people, I wish to tell one story… A story about my new family.

I started off the day with my husband, younger sister and best friend. We woke up early and sang happy birthday to a girl named Ann on the metro as we rode into the heart of the city. We walked passed the capital and stood a block away from the main stage, on the corner of 4th and Independence (fitting, right?). However, at one point, the crowd around us became too tightly packed and I could feel the panic and anxiety rising in my throat. I begged us to relocate to the side of the street. It ended up being the best decision we made all day, for as we squeezed our way from the center to the side, we emerged in front of a jovial group.

Dina–a warm happy woman with a loving smile and a compassionate energy–welcomed us to their section of the crowd, calling them her family. She introduced us to her 10 sisters, cousins, momma and auntie. This “family” welcomed us, calling us cousins and Eric their “nephew.” I was instantly struck by 1) their willingness to accept us amongst the packed crowds and pushing people and 2) the diversity of the women in our family.

Our race, religion, sexuality, nationality, ability, age, and local homes all differed, but our spirits were collective. This alone was beautiful… but what was more incredible than the blend of identities and lived experiences in our family was the revelation that we came from all of the corners of the United States, from different lives and stories all moving at different places and at different times to collide together for this one moment in this one section of this massive half a million woman march in the nation’s capital

We laughed together.

We ranted together.

We problem-solved our nation’s future together.

We gave advice to each other

We shared our few snacks around to re-energize each other.

We took selfies together.

We held onto each other.

We told each other our stories.

We cheered on and supported each other when one of us got tired or grumpy or needed to smoke but wanted to quit.

We stood in awe of each other.

I truly believe that in those moments, standing together in this one moment in history, we symbolized a unified American family

In those three hours of waiting for the march to begin down Independence Avenue and towards The White House, this family solidified my belief in that people can come together and love one another, no matter what our differences may be, no matter which shackles hold us down, no matter what monsters resided within us, no matter what path our lives have led us down. We loved each other because of these differences, because Black Lives Matter, because immigrants are welcome here, because love is love, because Muslims are a people of peace, because age is just a number, and because women’s rights are human rights.

I walk away from this experience reaffirming the belief that a light shines within us that unifies us, that propels us forward into goodness instead of backwards into hate. And my family yesterday defined again for me that feminism that isn’t intersectional is simply white supremacy, and confirmed to me that the patriarchy could indeed be smashed but only in the face of community and love and resolution.

I started off the day with my husband, younger sister and best friend, but I ended it with a new family. And as evening fell last night, I wished that everyone could have joined our family, could have seen the comradely and felt the love…

But then I remembered, that everyone is a part of our family, and they could feel this love too.Indeed, the love I felt during the march is not just reserved for me, it belongs to all of us because…

We are one family.

And as a family, we can overcome what divides us, celebrate what individualizes us, and love strangers as we love our mothers, fathers, sisters and partners.

I will hold this lesson close over the next four years and beyond and I hope you too, dear reader, can take this lesson too. I truly believe that this family–our family–was the greater reason for my participation yesterday.

Thank you, Women’s March, for teaching me the value of family.

Signature

8430

And for those of you who read this far, enjoy this photo of our family, taken by a friendly man watching the rally from atop a tree. 🙂

Conquer From Within

“Conquer from within;” a guiding philosophy for 2017.

As a proudly liberal, loudly feminist, believer in all things equity, supporter of people from all walks of life, the election of Donald Trump to the highest office in the country symbolized the rise of power of the antithesis of everything I believed in. This misogynist, racist, elitist, dangerous man was to shape the next four years of American life!?!? It lit a fire within me. This fire, fueled mostly by anger and disbelief, engulfed me for several weeks, and as 2016 came to a close, that flame burned bright as the conversation of new years resolutions circled on the social media stratosphere. And I don’t mean to be rude, but personally it seemed superficial to try to “get fit” or “get more organized” in the wake of what our nation was going through…. However, having recently been overcome by a wave of anxiety that I haven’t faced in several years, I also understood the importance of taking care of oneself in order to be a service to others. You can’t water a garden as an empty bucket.

I’m also a strong believer in new beginnings and resolutions in general, I knew that I would have to reconcile the need for healing, health and strength with my desire to be a warrior for positive change in 2017. This is when I stumbled upon the phrase “conquer from within.” I fell in love with the idea. The word conquer–strong and with a bite–reminded me of my commitment to the values of equity, community, and social justice. When I see the word conquer, I feel committed to be a fighter for liberal values. I see myself as a conquerer for the good in the world.

allkiind-conquer-from-within-18x24.jpg

But the phrase adds the idea of the inner work that needs to be done–the need to take care of ones mental state, physical  being, and relationships. To conquer from within, therefore, means to reflect, love, and inspire oneself in order to put yourself on the front lines every day for change.

To me, conquering from within in 2017 is…

Building inner strength to be the foundation for the long-term fight

Finding a place for self love in my life that can be transformed into love for all

Strengthening my inner resilience to provide fuel for the persistent resistance.

While reflecting on this philosophy for 2017, I realized that these concepts are only pretty words if they are not transformed into meaningful action. Unfortunately, both my self-care regimen and social justice activism has been mostly pretty words up until now–a concept without a plan. This needed to change. In order to see through my guiding philosophy, I therefore created steps and goals in congruence with the concepts of inner-growth and outward-resistance. These goals and strategies are manageable and they excite me. I’ve delineated them below.

  1. Unplug from Facebook and Instagram other than 30 mins a day. This keeps me from making constant comparisons with other’s lifestyles.
  2. Listen to more podcasts, subscribe to more news listservs, rejoin Twitter and follow only necessary accounts that will keep me educated on political and national events. This will provide me with the tools I need to resist political actions I don’t agree with and overall be a more well-informed citizen.
  3. Read for pleasure 30 minutes before bed 3 times a week.
  4. Donate to at least one non-profit organization once a month. We don’t have much extra money, but giving what I can where I can make a difference. Planned Parenthood’s got my $30 this month…
  5. Monitor and manage my anxiety.
  6. Focus my academic scholarship on movements and rhetoric that I find can benefit the civil action I believe in.
  7. Join, attend, listen and act (when and where directed) in the local #BlackLivesMatter DC chapter.
  8. Pour love and gratitude to the humans who make my world worth fighting for–my husband, my family, my friends (no matter how many miles away. for these folks, expect more letter writing, face-timing, visiting, etc.)
  9. Partake in weekly reflection on Sunday afternoons. This may take place in the form of blogging, doodling, having a conversation with my husband, etc…
  10. Prioritize action rather than re-posting articles on social media. Keep an eye on movements, organizations, leaders who need my support, action. Step up when needed.
  11. Find a hobby that promotes positive habits–meditation, journaling, SOMETHING.
  12. Find a community of friends in the Washington DC area so that my husband and I have a support network in #MarriedLand

Rather than being a New Years Resolution, I hope these actions transform into habits that I carry with me over my life. The philosophy and goals above will allow me to live in congruence and in balance while also holding me accountable for real actions that benefit a more equitable society. Overall, I hope 2017 allows the opportunity to heal, grow, and conquer both within and throughout society. 

Want to join me? Have suggestions for any of the goals above? Feel free to comment here or message me privately!