Today, January 21, 2017, is the historic Women's March, which started in Washington, D.C. and has spread across this nation and even to other countries.

In our tiny rural community over 200 people showed up for today's march.  Quite mind-blowing in a county in which Trump got more votes. 

We started the event with some music, and then some speakers.  I was honored to be asked to speak.  Then we marched through town.  It was a fantastic event, and I was especially delighted to meet many other local people who share my values of equality, justice, and fairness.  A few childish people drove by and flipped us off, but the overwhelming majority of people were honking and cheering as they drove by. 

Our PA system wasn't working, and some people had asked for my speech because there were so many people that it was hard to hear.  I am posting it here.  I also want to add that there are two newly formed human dignity groups in our county.  In South County, Progressive Action Tillamook has formed and has a Facebook page; they also organized the event.  In North County, there is the newly formed Oregon Coast Love Coalition, which I believe also has a Facebook page.  In Central County, Tillamook for Love, which is about two and a half years old, also has a Facebook page.  I would encourage anyone who believes in freedom, justice, and peace to align with one or more of these groups, and we will work together.

Anyway, the speech:


Hello everyone, I just want to say that I stopped on the way here at Freddy’s to grab some poster board and a marker and the foam boards and all the stiff boards for posters were COMPLETELY sold out!  Then I get here and turn the corner, and WOW!  What a fantastic turnout!  This is great!  Anyway, I’m Romy and I worked for seven years in the field of domestic and sexual violence prevention. I am here as a mother, sister, daughter, grandmother, and concerned citizen.  And I brought my granddaughter because she’s a concerned citizen too.

I want to talk for a moment about domestic and sexual violence, and the role that silence plays in perpetuating violence.  One thing I learned at the center was that abusers depend on the silence of their victims and people around them.  If their victim is too afraid to talk, if their voice is silenced, the abuser can continue to hurt them and others with impunity.  In my work at the center, I taught junior high and high school kids that silence is complicity, and I taught them about bystander intervention.  They learned how to not be silent in the face of bullying and other forms of violence. 

I see strong parallels between the behaviors of batterers and the behaviors of our current administration.  Yesterday, America entered a very unhealthy relationship and we love her and we’re concerned.  We as Americans hold certain values, like equality and human dignity, very dear and they are under threat.

Already, the new administration has vowed to cut funding to the Violence Against Women Act, which funds life-saving services to people experiencing domestic and sexual violence.  We CANNOT be silent.  They are already defunding Planned Parenthood in some states, which will surely lead to a rise in sexually transmitted illnesses and unwanted pregnancies as women lose access to critical health services.  Donald Trump has an admitted track record of sexually assaulting women and shows no remorse for his actions.  He demeans immigrants, people of color, people with disabilities, Muslims, poor people, overweight people, veterans, really anyone who isn’t him.  I’ll be blunt; he is an abuser.  He has already removed pages from the White House website that are supportive of our LGBT community and disabled workers.  But he seems to save his strongest hatred for women, whom he refers to as dogs and pigs.  This is not acceptable behavior for anyone, much less a commander in chief.

When we see someone being abused, we have a moral obligation to support that person and try to stop the abuse.  Silence is not an option. Taking a stand in a small town means taking risks, like you are right now by being here!  It may result in people not looking you in the eye in the grocery store anymore, or talking behind your back.  The good news is, you’re in a small town so they already are!  Give them something to talk about!  Step up, speak out, don’t be silenced!  Some people escalate the abuse when someone speaks up.  They may roll their eyes, or call you a snowflake, or tell you to “get over it.”  They may even threaten you.  They are trying to silence you.  That’s what abusers do.  Don’t let them do that.  There are many ways to speak out.  Even refusing to laugh at jokes that are racist, sexist, or hateful to any group is a great start.  That’s actually a great time for cold, stony silence.

Donald Trump may be the face of the problem, but he isn’t THE problem.  He is a demagogue, but he has had plenty of backing, and they are all counting on our silence so they can continue to batter this planet and everyone on it. 

I’m going to read a quote that I found very impactful, by Naomi Shulman:

“Nice people made the best Nazis.  My mom grew up next to them.  They got along, refused to make waves, looked the other way when things got ugly and focused on happier things than ‘politics.’  They were lovely people who turned their heads as their neighbors were dragged away.  You know who weren’t nice people?  Resisters.”

Be a resister!  You don’t owe anyone an explanation, you never need to justify taking a stand.  And when you go home today, don’t just put your coat away and say, “well, I did my part.”  I know you won’t, and we can’t afford that.  We need you!  We can’t let this current administration normalize hate.  We need to normalize activism.  We have some powerful people standing here, people who really love this community and our country, and want to make it the best place in the world to live.  We are the ones who can make a difference.  We don’t have time for fear.  We need to stick together, get to know each other, and strategize.  I look forward to working with each of you, and changing the world together.  Thank you.