REVIEW COORDINATOR: Andrea Walsh
A Place at the Table (Video Transcript)
A Place at the Table
One of the best things for me was seeing all the people on route.
We drove in the car and we found a parking spot a little bit at a distance, and when we got out of the car, the whole lot was filled with other people. We saw all the posters coming out of trunks and backseats, and we did have a bit of a march because from this parking spot at a distance, we marched with crowds of people. And they were young, and they were old, and they were all shades, and they were carrying their signs, and we were reading all of the signs.
We parked our cars and we got out and some middle-aged white men parked behind us and got out of their car, and there was this talk that there could be opposition there to sort of disrupt the proceedings, so I wasn’t quite… I wasn’t really saying anything to these guys, and then they said, “Isn’t this great? This reminds me of when we marched against Nixon in 72.” These guys who at first glance you wouldn’t think would show up to your every day feminist rally. And they were there. They were there to show up and they wanted to be a part of it too.
I marched because I wanted to feel like other people felt the way I did about what’s going on, because everybody even if they’re small or big or old or young, everyone has these wants, and everybody needs to be listened to and recognized.
I marched out of a bunch of contradictory emotions like fear and love. At the time I was going through like a bunch of reproductive health issues. As I was going, you know, to the clinic and to the doctor I kept thinking like, “If it was six months from now or a year from now, maybe I wouldn’t have been able to get the stuff that I needed.” I had to get one of my IUDs out and then put another one in and I called a few places and this Catholic place, they were really excited to take it out but then they wouldn’t put another one in. And then at MSU there was only one doctor who knew how to put them in, so it took me like months to get it done, and it was just a really stressful experience, and to think that we had this misogynist in office was more than I could bear. I needed something to have this like outpouring of emotion with other women at the same time.
I marched because it gave me a voice. I’m originally from Germany. I’ve lived in East Lansing for 16 years now, have become a resident but I’m not a citizen, so I can’t vote. Leading up to the election, it was very difficult to be in a situation where I had no say. I had no power. I… there was nothing much that I could do to, to impact the outcome, and so when I heard about the march I thought that this was a fantastic opportunity for me to have my voice heard.
I decided to march because as a queer indigenous woman there’s a lot of things that are coming across affected by this presidential election that can be directly impacted by things like laws and bans and movements and it was really important not only to feel like I was doing something but also to help with the feeling of just hopelessness and dread that I felt, especially things like the Dakota Access Pipeline, and land sovereignty, and body sovereignty. All of these are very important to me and they’re all things that are being directly impacted by this.
I marched because I feel women of color deserve to have power and they deserve to be heard.
I kind of felt broken, like all the news was hurting my heart and I needed to do something about it because I… I couldn’t take it anymore.
I come from someone who is technically a refugee. Both my grandparents on one side of the family came from Poland, and one was legal, one was not. They were trying to get out of Poland before World War I began, and so, you know, they are considered refugees. The kind of people that Trump would now close out of our world.
As a queer woman, it felt even more important. On November 9th, when we found the results of the election, my first thought was, “They’re going to try to figure out a way to take away my marriage license.”
My mom’s family is Mexican and the whole wall thing, like really, I didn’t like.
As a black woman, who is married to a white man, who has a son of mixed race, I understand that there is a lot more complications in terms of how his life rolls out. Especially now that my son is getting to the age where he’s taller, he’s bigger, he becomes more threatening, just his presence. Watching the #BlackLivesMatter movement evolve over the last, you know, seven or eight years has been quite troubling to me. Because it’s followed the trajectory of watching my son going from being an infant to being a little man. I think that having a seat at the table and having visibility at marches like this is important for black women to continue to do and I think it’s also something where white women became very aware that “wait, we walk around with some of these privileges and we don’t even recognize that.”
During the election a lot of people thought that just the assault charges themselves would be enough to keep him from being elected and he openly mocked a disabled person and they were like “that was terrible, that will surely stop.” And then those tapes came out of him talking about so casually assaulting a woman. I’m an assault survivor, so for me, hearing that story and like hearing that phrase just repeated over and over and over on the news. It was running across the tickers on the bottom of the TV. It just makes you feel like you just got slapped 50 years back into the past, and so the march was just a way to put on your signs and just be mad about it for a little while.
I have been a part of marches for most of my adult life. Going back to the Civil Rights marches and then into the Vietnam war, and the energy from that march and knowing that all over the world other people were marching on the same day for the same reasons, just said to me, “you know, this isn’t going to stop here. This isn’t a one-time event.” This is the beginning of us taking back how government is supposed to be run and how our society is supposed to function.
I’ve never been to something of that magnitude before. It was beautiful being surrounded by so many like-minded people. And not only women. People from all walks of life, all ages. I mean, everybody was there. Everybody came out and just shared that, that important moment together.
I remember one of the things as I was getting ready, I was like, “What do I need?” So I got like a bandana. I got milk ‘cause I kept thinking like, “What if we get tear-gased?” And so it was kind of interesting like being there and then seeing people not worried about it. It just felt like that. I was like, “Oh, that’s not what you all were thinking when you were thinking of protest.” People were like, “Why do you have a bandana on? And why do you have milk?” And I'm like, “So this is your first rodeo.”
It was just so gratifying to see so many men and women, who were passionate about all of the causes and there were many, many causes that were represented there.
I made a poster that said, “Girls just wanna have fundamental rights.”
There were so many people there in Lansing that nobody’s cellphone worked.
Maybe it was also maybe the lack of movement, like because they didn’t get a permit there was no actual marching. It’s like we got there and it was all just there.
It was really crowded. There were a lot of people, which is great. It was kind of overwhelming a little bit, but then once I kind of thought about it and I was like realized why everybody was there and what we were all there to prove, it made me feel better and I was like, “Wow, this is really great.”
We were standing next to a group of very, very young people and they were so into it with their phones. Photographing everything and Instagram and, “Oh, my goodness.” And you know, as a Gen-Xer that’s not something I did, because I wanted to be very present and there, but I’m also glad that that occurred.
To go on social media afterwards and to see like in my hometown in Los Angeles there were 750.000 people that went. Just to go home after this experience and to see that everyone else was having that same experience. It made me feel like democracy isn’t entirely just bullshit.
I was there with another person, a friend, and as we were walking around we kept being troubled or just kind of… first we were curious. We were like, “Oh, there’s a lot of Star Wars signs.” I don’t know. Since that march I’ve been thinking about imagination and the role that imagination plays in protest, and I wondered how many people couldn’t see the shit going on until they imagined it through something like Star Wars, as opposed to like the people of color or the women of color or the indigenous people or the trans women sitting in that group being like, “I don’t need some like fake rebellion, or some fake state violence to connect to this. This is like always happening.”
I was there with my sign “Viva la mujer” and I was one of the few people there with signs in Spanish. I felt like I was one of the few women of color there, one of the few Latinas. When I noticed, when I looked around and observed that I was one of the very few Latinas or women of color, I said, “Huh, I was sort of right. This is why I didn’t want to come,” but I was really glad to be there.
On my poster I said, “Equality for all” and there is like, #BlackLivesMatter, and Coexist, and a rainbow for gay pride.
To see my nephew who is 10 years old, and, you know, this isn’t his first march. He felt really empowered, I think, that this isn’t the end. Things might be bad for a while but there are people out here trying to make sure that things get better.
It’s that argument when you’re like, “Oh, you have to fight against sexism because it’s like one of your sisters or your mom or your… or your daughter.” It’s like, “No, you should be fighting sexism because it’s fucked up to be fucked up to people.”
I plan to be in a demonstration at least once each week and I am signing petitions and writing letters and emailing representatives and senators both in support of the things they are doing well and in concern for those that they have missed and are not doing well.
Going to City Council meetings, talking to people. I know right now here in Lansing the sanctuary city is a big deal that a lot of people are getting really involved with. Over 100 people spoke at the last sanctuary city meeting about why it should be a sanctuary city even if we lose federal funding and that’s ho
I think we need to keep standing up to anything that people say that we don’t believe in, so when Trump made a ban for people from seven countries, we have to make sure that they know that they are welcome here no matter what he says.
I got involved in the recount afterwards and I got trained and then I wasn’t able to do it because the recount in Michigan got shut down, so I was really disappointed at that. There are things in the state of Michigan that I think could be changed that could help shift the dynamics in the future. There are things like defunct laws that if there’s a difference of one vote between what’s on the outside of a precinct package and what is put down in the poll books, that the whole precinct gets thrown out, so a number of precincts in Michigan, their entire votes were thrown out this last election. Particularly in the Detroit area. I think we need to change that law.
I set up a little postcard club. Every couple of weeks we get together and we write a bunch of postcards and we send them off to Mike Bishop and then we send them off to our senators. When things happen that we want to make sure that they are aware that we know, and as the State House and the State Senate start to move on bills at the state level, we will make the postcards longer.
I think the thing that was most poignant to me was that sign, that meme that is going around, it’s like, “Gonna see you at the next #BlackLivesMatter rally?” And I think that was with it too that I was like, “Oh, I was just here at the Capitol for a prayer on no DAPL. Didn’t see you all here. I was just here at the Capitol for a thing against Flint. Didn’t see you all here.” And so, I hope that this sparks some wanting to change in people, but for me it’s recognizing like you can’t just do it when you want, or when it’s convenient, or when it’s been planned for three months. You maybe need to come out to the march that somebody told you about yesterday.
We can listen to the news and see different people’s perspectives on these things and consider everyone’s perspective and then think about what we think is right and what we think is good for this country.
I think financially supporting different causes is very important right now because fighting the insanity costs a lot of money, so I think if people can give, that’s very important.
We have to continue to talk to each other. We have to talk to people with whom we disagree. There are too many groups who want the same things and if we can bring everyone together in one space again, that is how the momentum carries forward and we start to make, I hope, some positive changes to this mess.
I still feel that movement, if we can call it that, it doesn’t really include me, but there are other movements, there are other movements that do—the immigrant rights movement, #BlackLivesMatter, trans rights movements—and those are the ones I want to connect with. But these are also movements that don’t necessarily have the resource base—material resources, human resources—to have the kind of impact that white, middle-class feminists have.
I think one of the things that happens in America is that groups of black people are seen as threatening. Period. And so one of the things that I think that has the potential to come out from the Women’s March on Washington is people understanding that being an ally actually means having white bodies there, because it actually mediates and mitigates the potential violence that can happen upon me or my son or anyone else that looks like me.
Part of it is, though, I think many people like myself feel overwhelmed. There is just so much to do. Everyday I’m bombarded with all the things. All the emails I could write, all the causes I could give money to and I… I keep trying everyday to allot a certain amount of time to that, but I only have so much time.
We shall rise to continue to fight for our rights. Not only as women but as humans. We shall rise to uphold our constitutional rights and what we have fought for. Women are not going anywhere and we’re not stepping back into the past for anything. We are stepping towards the future and we are successful at what we do and we’ll continue to be.
I’m a grad student at MSU and this is my second semester ever teaching, so for me specifically, I made my curriculum like totally different this time around. I made it much more politically engaged and, even though, you know, I wasn’t trying to tell my students how to think and I’m sure it was obvious that I’m liberal. It was just me presenting so many opportunities for them to think. Previous to Trump being elected, previous to the Women’s March, I was really terrified of having those kinds of conversations in class, of being vulnerable in front of a group of like 30 young people, but afterwards I just felt like it was my duty.
I think that one of the things unfortunately that helps the momentum is the daily news. It’s just not business as usual. It’s very abnormal. Not in my lifetime have I ever experience anything like this and I think it compels action.
There’s talk of, “Oh, we’re going to go through protest fatigue.” I don’t think so. I think that it’s like practice. We like it. We don’t get tired by it. We get energized by it, so the more things that get planned and happen, the more it becomes routine. This weekend, where are we marching? Where are we showing up?
What this march on Washington did not do is really challenge our thinking conceptually in any kind of way. And I think in order to move forward, I mean, that’s what we have to do. We have to redefine ourselves and we have to accept new definitions of ways of being and be able to see the ways in which we can collectively come together when we think we don’t understand where other people are coming from.
Spread the love and not the hate and then we can make America great.
The real reason I do it is for my family, because I have two daughters and four grandchildren. And my older daughter said the day after the march, “I feel so badly for you and Dad because I know that you have wanted to make the world a better place and that’s not happening. It’s getting worse and I just hate to see you go through this.” And I said, “You don’t understand, we were part of the march yesterday and we are so pumped up and excited about the possibilities of dealing with this difficult situation. We’re OK. You don’t need to worry about us.”
Directed, Produced, and Edited by
and the March on Lansing attendees
Interviews Recorded at
LEADR Lab for the Education and Advancement in Digital Research
at Michigan State University.
“Trundel” and “Tortoise Shell”
by Poddington Bear
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by Alexandra Hidalgo