I’m not sure where to start this post but I think the best place is: Why?
Why did I travel for over 7 hours and fly 1,375 miles to march in the capital of a country that I have no legal ties to? My answer is Immigration.
I was born in the Cayman Islands. I am a ninth-generation ‘Caymanian’ (we’ll get into that later), and I’ve always been very proud of that. My parents are unmarried and my name is double-barreled. I was having a conversation with my father one day about dropping his last name from mine and was greeted with anger.
‘Why would you get rid of the name we gave to ourselves?’
I’m sorry what?
I lived 20 years not knowing my Grandfather’s family were slaves. Who after release migrated from Brazil to Belize. Who came to Brazil on boats from Africa. Who could have been sent on boats to America. Everywhere we have ended up is a simple product of chance. I’ve lived 20 years thinking that being a ninth-generation anything actually means anything other than my ancestors caught the boat before someone else’s.
I refuse to think that way anymore. I now know better.
I feel very connected to the issues in the United States because I feel the trickle down effect every day at home.
I feel it every time I attend an event and see the invisible line we’ve drawn for ourselves separating expatriate to ‘Caymanian’, people in separate corners, divided. Every time I find myself needing to explain that foreign companies need foreign workers- and they truly aren’t just out to get us. Every time I watch my mom listen to people bad-mouth expatriates, state she is one and then be told –
“Oh but you’re different.”
Nothing is different.
These are not American Issues.
These are our issues.
I’ve spent the past week thinking a lot about the things I saw and the people I met and to keep it short and sweet these are 3 of the most important things I’ve taken away from my experience at the Women’s March on Washington.
- The fight is not a sprint – it’s a marathon.
Times are tense. The fire has been lit under all of us – but one contribution does not change a system. The path to equal rights for all starts with the understanding that it’s going to be a lot of work, and you’re going to take one for the team to get things done. Not just for yourself but for the generations coming after us.
Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in. – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
- Gather your tribe.
Michael Moore spoke (for a very long time before being cut off by Ashley Judd but anyway) to the crowd and made sure to give a to-do list, a list of everything each marcher was to do the day after and after and after. One of the things he said stuck with me. Even if you do not think you are capable of change – you are more powerful than you know. Gather 10 people. 10 friends, family, coworkers – anyone. Have those people on standby so when things start popping off, for lack of a better term, you know you have 10 people ready to sign petitions, rally with you – DO ANYTHING to get what needs to be done, done.
- Be kind.
‘They go low, we go high.’ Being around so many people of different: genders, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc that day taught me that the common thread we all share is kindness. It takes more effort to hate than to be kind, and if by not ‘going low’ and responding to the hate with more hate, and managing to remember that no matter the vitriol we are all human – we are showing them that we know better and that they should too.
Thanks for reading.