By Kathryn Sesser-Dorné
Marching through the streets of Birmingham Saturday, it was not lost on me how many others had done the same before. It was enlightening walking around the Civil Rights District where people stood up so valiantly in the 1950s and ’60s for African Americans and their fight for equality. A fight that continues today.
I told my husband while we walked that I couldn’t believe that we were having to do this in the year 2017. I couldn’t believe that after coming so far as women, we are facing going back decades … When we’re not even yet seen as equals.
As I reflect on this past weekend, and all of the marches that took place worldwide, I continue to remind myself that we cannot be divided when we all stand together for the common good of ALL mankind.
The afternoon was beautiful.
The afternoon was meaningful.
The afternoon was peaceful.
The afternoon was full of hope.
The afternoon was important.
And now, we’ve been thrust back into reality, trying to hold on to those feelings as we’ve watched our president sign executive order after executive order taking away rights from many. And we’re only days into his term.
Attempts to skew the message of Saturday’s march into nothing but a pro-choice rally is another attempt by conservatives to keep us pitted against one another. At a time with abortion rates are at the lowest they have been since Roe v. Wade, it’s important to point out that while one day the practice may be illegal, it will always exist. It will just get more dangerous.
I’ve been surprised at the backlash from other women following the march on Saturday. I don’t understand how you aren’t proud that so many came together to try and make a difference. So many men, women and children turned out in support of those who have felt marginalized in a year filled with misogyny, racial tension and hate.
It’s just another example of the alternate reality that we seem to be existing in at the moment, more of the false narrative that continues to divide us.
The comments telling women to go live in other countries and see what rights they would have further drove home the point that so many don’t understand the problems women have faced in America. Yes, we have rights. Rights that most of us take for granted because we never even had to lift a finger for them. We were lucky enough to be born into them because strong women wouldn’t remain silent.
But we are not equal.
Until we are paid the same as men in fields such as healthcare, government, technology, business, and sports, we are not equal.
Until we don’t have to live under the threat of our healthcare being dismantled by men, we are not equal.
Until we don’t live in fear walking alone to our homes, we are not equal.
Until we don’t have to pit women against one another to cover up real issues going on in our country, we are not equal.
But, if Saturday is any indication, we will not take the changes coming from Washington lying down.
If we continue the fight, we may finally live in a country where equality is a given for all of us. A country where black lives matter, science is important, women are just as valued as men, love is love, diversity is celebrated and kindness for your fellow man — and their differences — is important above all else.
But as for now, watching what President Donald Trump has done in the last few days, four words keep running through my mind: This is not normal.
And I hope it will never be.
Kathryn Sesser-Dorné is the designer and a contributing editor for The Birmingham Times. She has been a journalist for nearly 20 years, and has worked with newspapers all around the country.