When Barack Obama was inaugurated back in 2009 for his first presidency term, I was 12 years old and remember being of age to understand what an inauguration was. As I watched the ceremony on television with my parents, they explained to me the words that I didn’t understand, I smiled as my parents cheered and seemed happy about our new president, and I remember thinking that we have a strong figure representing our American ideals and values for the next four years. The inauguration of 2013 was a similar experience - we had already seen 4 years of President Obama’s efforts, accomplishments, and perseverance- my parents were pleased with him and I was too.
Have Your Voice Heard: Become an Odyssey Creator
This past Friday, though, the presidential inauguration was not what it was to me in 2009 or 2013. As January 20th inched closer, I gradually grew more fearful, ashamed, and upset at who we had elected as our president. When the inauguration address started, I was only able to watch about two minutes of it before turning it off. I only heard a short clip of Trump’s speech, but it was enough to make me realize that I’m afraid for what’s to come.
On January 21st, there was a Women’s March on Washington planned in hundreds of cities, including one in Las Vegas. The marches were intended to allow people to get their voices heard on a spectrum of issues, ranging from women’s rights and racial inequalities to the environment and immigration reform. I originally wasn’t planning on attending the march, primarily because I didn’t know what impact it would make and I didn’t know if it’d be worth it. A part of me wanted to go to make my concerns heard, but a bigger part of me was fearful- I had never been to a protest or participated in activism of any sort and didn’t know what to expect.
After some last minute thinking and convincing on the morning of the march, I soon found myself on the way to Downtown Las Vegas with two great friends- we were all a bit unsure of what to expect, but we wanted more to make our voices heard.
When we arrived in the meeting spot for the march, I suddenly found myself in the midst of a swarm of thousands of people- there were people with signs, some were old, others were young, there were women, men, and children, there were people of color, and some spoke with accents. Together, we comprised a united, friendly group of people who wanted to make change and who wanted to protect our American ideologies.
As the march proceeded, we began chanting as loud as we could be- “Stronger together, we won’t fall. Justice, peace, and equality for all!” As we walked down Fremont Street, there were people on the sidewalks with strange looks, a dozen police officers, and hundreds of signs being raised. A common sign was “Women rights are human rights.” Others included “Think… it’s not illegal yet!”, “Make America Smart Again”, “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun-damental rights”, and “If we put a woman’s face on the $10 bill, would it only be worth $7.70?”
When the march concluded at the Lloyd George U.S. Courthouse Building, we then heard from several organizers of the event and a few political officials, including Dina Titus and Ruben Kihuen. As I stood there listening to the inspiring and moving speeches, I started to understand why a part of me had wanted to attend this march.
I marched because at one time, women weren’t allowed to. I marched because I wanted to honor the hundreds of women who fought for my right to be able to march. I marched because I want future women to be secured the same rights that I am. I marched because I cherish the America that has been created as the result of mixing a multitude of different cultures, races, and ethnicities. I marched because I still hold on to Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream that we will one day live in a nation in which all people will be treated equal. I marched because I care about our environment and am fearful to see us take steps backwards on the progress we’ve made thus far. I marched because I wanted to protect a special friend who depends on the aid of ObamaCare to help pay for her rather outrageous medical bills. I marched because I have the right to and I marched because I wanted my voice to be heard.
Only time will tell the true impact of this march, but on a personal level, it made me less afraid of what’s to come with this new presidency. It made me realize that there are hundreds of thousands of people who share my concerns. It made me desire to be more involved in activism and it taught me that while such activities may not bring about change immediately, without them, there won’t ever be change.
While I’m a bit nervous for what these next four years will bring, I’m thankful to see that there are ways to fight against Trump and his policies. I’m glad to realize that I’m not alone in facing these obstacles. I’m optimistic that we’ll eventually see the change we want and I’m hopeful that a time will come in which we won’t have to fight any longer.
It took me a long time to learn and believe this, but Donald Trump isn’t America. Michael Pence isn’t America. Congress isn’t America. We are all America and this is our country to protect, cherish, admire, honor, and love- not just Trump’s.