Column: I was there for those who agree — and those who do not


WASHINGTON — I was there.

It’s become the battle cry for every woman and man that participated in the many marches held around the country and the world. This proclamation is either met with a look of scornful disdain followed by a “why?” or with a high five and a “me too” or “thank you.”

I was there in Washington, D.C., for both of those categories of people – the people who understand as well as the ones who are confounded as to what rights I feel I’m being stripped of. 

Too many people have fought too hard to afford us the rights that we so easily take for granted, like actually being able to cast a vote as a woman. Marches were formed and voices lifted until those basic rights were granted. It is irresponsible not to acknowledge that so many of the rights that we enjoy today as women, as humans, were supplied by those who dared pick up a sign and gather to have their numbers counted. It is even more irresponsible not to continue their work.

I was there because I refuse to let my two strong boys see Mom sit on the couch with a glass of wine, flipping through Netflix, complaining about the way things are. Instead, I want them to see me rise and make a difference. 

There could be a day when their decision to either sit it out or participate may arise. I want them to remember this and know that standing up and being counted is always the right decision.  

Being there, surrounded by the incredible masses desiring to be heard, was affirming, hopeful and empowering. It was a beautiful day, despite the gray skies, despite the larger-than-expected crowd that caused the march routes to change several times. It was all of those things because we were there together aligned in one purpose. 

Make no mistake: it was a hard day. It took planning, preparation and perseverance. It would have been much easier to say, “This is too much; there are too many people.” But when you travel with a fierce group of women who have woken at 4 a.m., you just dig in and understand that sometimes resistance is uncomfortable. We’ve gotten entirely too comfortable being comfortable. 

Moving with that many people presents many unique challenges, yet everyone’s disposition was remarkably bright and happy.  We were happy to be squished together, not being able to see or hear or really even move. That may sound horrible to many, but to feel the overwhelmingly positive energy of the people present was something I will always cherish. To be seen and heard – isn’t that what everyone wants?  The difference is that we did it. We were heard. 

This was not about anger and fear for me. It was about regrouping and plugging in. We have become civically lazy, and that is no longer acceptable. At coffee the next morning with young women, we spoke about what comes next.

It isn’t enough to say, “I was there,” and go back to life as you knew it. This wasn’t just a fun day out with the girls. 

When you get home, that is when the true work begins. Our narrative cannot and must not be exclusive and one filled with hate and meaningless talking points.  We must continue to march every single day in our own way. This is how change happens. This is democracy. 

Winesett is the mom of two incredible boys who are watching and learning from every move she makes. She is also a wife, friend, former store-owner and lover of this beautiful Tidewater we call home.

© 2017 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC

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