Uniting Together During the Women’s Rally

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Uniting Together During the Women’s Rally

Caitlin Richards, Social Media Editor

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On Jan. 26, thousands of women marched and gathered together at Halifax Mall in downtown Raleigh for the “2019 Raleigh Women’s March: Women United for Justice,” which is the third women’s rally since president Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017.

During the first women’s rally, women said they were going to be showing up to the polls more and speaking out. So far, women have kept their word. More women have been elected as officials and are becoming more noticeable within the governmental system.

At the beginning of the event, people marched in with their homemade posters as they gathered around to hear the speakers. Their energy level and excitement was high in hopes of a better future.

“We have not reached the mountain top,” said rally speaker, Jessica Holmes, a Wake County commissioner.   “We are still dealing with hopelessness, affordable housing, and the fact that we still have to tell people in this country that the “Me too” movement will not be silenced..We have glass ceilings that are yet to be broken. I tell you what, there are but one way to reach the top of that mountain and that is together.”

People could be seen taking pictures with their posters, dancing, cheering, chanting, and coming together. Males, females, families, friends, and even pets were in attendance.  

“Race, sex, any type of ethnicity, ableism, any kind of diversity at all, fear is not a reason to try to pep yourself up as the winner,” said Women’s Rally attendee, Denis Zavaleta. “As we were talking about on the way here, if you’re in a boat, you don’t want to be the one that is the highest. You want everyone to float or the boat won’t float.”

The theme of this year’s women’s rally was unity and togetherness, bringing people together and defending communities under attack. This included women, Muslims, immigrants, people of color, LGBTQ people, refugees, and people with disabilities, with the common goal of working for equal opportunities.

“It’s all about giving women a voice and making sure that we accept one another and we talk about issues that are going on and that we are aware of what’s going on,” said William Peace University sophomore Ré Cross.

Not only was this event about equality and women’s rights, but it was also about standing up to adequately funded public education, reproductive health care, common sense gun regulations, to fight for DACA, and to fight for those who feel as if they are not being heard or supported.

“I saw a sign that said ‘Where do I even start,’ so that’s just kind of what’s coming into my mind,” said Women’s Rally Attendee, Brian Valyko.

“I, well obviously as a woman, I experience just the amount of inequalities everyday, like the fact that I can’t walk out into the street without asking a male friend to guide me,” said Women’s Rally attendee, Alexis Garrett.

The majority of the writing on peoples’ posters, and the emotion they were displaying, were signs of frustration, anger, determination, and hopefulness, which could be felt and seen all around.  

“You don’t have to be someone’s wife, someone’s girlfriend, someone’s mother, someone’s daughter, you already are someone,”  said Zavaleta. “And you need to own that and raise your voice. It makes a difference. People don’t realize how much one voice matters, but it takes one person to change someone else’s mind. It takes one conversation to overturn fear. And let’s be honest, that’s where elitism comes from. Fear of not being important.”

From being sexually harassed, abused physically and emotionally, experiencing sexism or racism within a community or workplace, or not feeling supported or heard, just because of being a woman, the event allowed everyone an opportunity to express their feelings and concerns.

“All my friends are male and they’re military too, and just meeting a new friend of theirs, they don’t even shake my hand because I’m a woman. They always assume I’m a girlfriend rather than a human being that’s a friend of theirs. And that’s just really hard,” said Garrett.

People are tired of just waiting and hoping for a better future. They want people to take action and to not give up hope.  

“We need more people to get out and vote, so hopefully like these rallies that we’ve had for the past two years, since 2016 we’ve seen more voter turnout and it’s a great way to be involved, other than just tweeting that you’re upset or Facebooking what your thoughts are, getting out and being vocal and being around like-minded people, its just a great way to energize myself and hopefully the base,” said Valyko.

Whether people have experienced inequality personally, or have a family member or friend to have experienced discrimination and inequality, people want to inform their loved ones about how to keep going in a world where they might feel lonely or left out.

“I’m here to teach my son that a quality person does not fear equality,” said Zavaleta.

“My beautiful wife and two daughters…I want them to grow up in a future where they can vote, they can have the same pay as men…just have basically the same opportunities,” said Valyko.

Without people showing up to the polls and voicing what matters to them, various people, especially women, feel that their concerns will continue to go unheard.

“I just really hope that we unite together all different aspects of womanhood. As a bisexual woman, I experience how hard it is…how you’re in between worlds. That’s at least something I can hide. I can’t even imagine what it feels like to not be able to hide your race. At least I can still blend in. And I feel for all the women that can’t do that, and I want them not only to be brave with that, but also embrace what makes them different and embrace what makes them stand out,” said Garrett.

 

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