By PAIGE ARCANO
(KANSAS CITY, Mo., digitalBURG) —
The echo of this chant rang through Washington Square Park in Kansas City as I stood among thousands of other people. About 10,000 people. People sharing signs, pink cat hats, cookies and hope.
I attended the Women’s March Saturday, Jan. 21, in Kansas City, Missouri. I happened to run into a friend of mine, which was surprising to find a familiar face, considering the massive crowd. We exchanged pleasantries, and I said I was glad to see her there. She then said, “Solidarity, sister!” And that was the whole vibe of the march. Solidarity.
People were so kind to each other, shouting across the crowds to compliment a sign or shirt. Strangers posed for pictures together. Julee Jonez, the event emcee, implored the attendees of the rally to exchange numbers and names. Strangers were becoming friends over a moral purpose.
There were several speakers at the rally. They spoke on minimum wage, reproductive wages, immigration and other topics.
Jolie Justus, a Kansas City councilwoman and a LGBTQ+ advocate, said minorities are rightfully fearful for their safety.
“We are stronger when we stand together,” Justus said.
Taylor Hirth, of Independence, Missouri, spoke about her gang rape case, which was recently featured in Cosmopolitan magazine. She has said the police had closed her case after six months because all the leads had been exhausted.
“My body was now a crime scene,” Hirth said. “This is the price we pay for being women.”
Zoya Khan, president of the Kansas University Muslim Student Association, spoke on behalf of Muslim rights.
Khan said she knows oppression. She said her identity is innately political because it is apparent she is Muslim. She told the crowd there is no one right way to act but the time to act is now.
Amanda Ruth, an advocate for raising minimum wage, said white women receive 79 cents to every man’s dollar, black women receive 60 cents, and Latina women receive 54 cents.
“Workers’ rights are women’s rights,” Ruth said.
This was just a small amount of subjects spoken about at the rally. Cheers, shouts and applause rang out every time someone spoke. There was a sense of togetherness in the crowd.
“We need to protect each other and do the right thing,” said Jose A. Torres, an immigration advocate.
It was great that this rally wasn’t just about women’s rights but about human rights. Not just women are being oppressed, and intersectional oppression is even more prevalent.
As a woman, I know the oppression. I feel it every time I walk to my car in the dark, fearful for my life. I feel it every time a man thinks it is OK to talk down to me because I am a woman. I feel it when I am looked over in a conversation, when I feel like I should simply listen rather than contribute, when I don’t have a voice.
Everyone has a different experience, and I know I don’t have an answer for everything. I want to help so much, find my voice and reach out to those who are hurting. Sometimes, especially recently, I feel like I can’t do anything to help. This march, this community, has shown me, though, that I am a voice among many other voices. These voices all stand together, rally together and stay strong together.
This gives me hope to see so many people in my own community passionate about things I have passion for. It’s really easy to retweet or share a post online, but it’s more powerful to see not only my community, but worldwide support.
For those who are concerned or afraid, get involved. For those who are glad to see their candidate president, get involved. Call senators, participate in local government and understand what is going on around the country.
Don’t be satisfied. Fight. Exercise the rights we have as citizens and, most importantly, love.