One New York woman travelling to The United States Capitol tells her story
Words by Selin Barrow
On November 8th, I watched the results of this election with tears in my eyes. And it wasn’t because the candidate I supported had lost the election, I felt disappointed in the American people overall. They had seemingly succumbed to the threats of fear that were injected by this man. I cried myself to sleep that night and woke up numb. In fact, that morning, the entire city seemed hungover.
Donald Trump’s rhetoric has been insulting, degrading and threatening for women, sexual assault survivors, legal or illegal immigrants, Muslims, LGBT, people of colour, people with disabilities and journalists from the beginning.
It’s agonising to see someone in such a powerful position, who does not have any clue of how his dismissal of these groups/individuals would create polarisation within the country. And despite his declaration to ‘Make America great again’, in reality, he will make the country weaker. His agenda, which includes tax cuts for the rich, repealing environmental laws, appointing anti-choice and anti-LGBT justices, loosening gun controls nationwide and defunding organisations such as Planned Parenthood will hurt the country that I love and have the privilege to call ‘home’.
I have lived a similar scenario in my native land of Turkey. Since the power shift in 2002, anyone who is against the government’s policies have been seen as inferior with women bearing the front lines. Women and young girls are being sexually assaulted and getting blamed for it. Any journalist or news channel that contradicts the establishment gets branded as being unreliable and most of them get jailed immediately and stripped of any constitutional rights they have.
An economy, that was promised to improve on the ballot, is now a big bubble on the verge of bursting. The ruling party has polarised the country between their supporters and non-supporters. There’s no healthy communication, unity or tolerance left between these two groups. And now the president is seeking ultimate power to bring one-man rule for the country, which no one thought could happen. The similarities between him and the most powerful man in America are uncanny and scary.
But, then something extraordinary happened 24 hours after Trump’s election victory, on the evening of the 9th. I met with a friend and on the way back home we heard a roar on 5th avenue. We rushed to see what was going on and suddenly found ourselves in a protest against the president-elect. It was so invigorating to see thousands of people become one. Suddenly my spirits were lifted. I found the place I needed to be at that moment and it felt good. It gave me hope for our future. We weren’t going to take this lying down. We needed our voices to be heard. We needed everyone to know that we’re here. That’s when I realised that we were living in the greatest city on earth. I was proud to be in a country that allowed us to do this without being punished for it.
This was not the time to be afraid, this was the time to act.
To quote the organisers of this march, this is about sending a bold message to the new government and to the world, that everyone’s rights, regardless of who and what their standings are in society, are human rights.
We, the women, who will unite together across the world, will not let our lives be led by the decisions of those who have an insatiable thirst for power and their efforts to divide this country. This march may have been initiated under the umbrella of women, nevertheless it’s important for all of us to ensure that everyone’s civil rights, regardless of the colour of their skin, social standing, religion, sexual orientation or gender, are protected no matter what. And I believe this march will help me personally take that step for the greater good. It’s beautiful to see that I’m not alone in taking this step.
As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.’