In the News

LATINAS ARE PLAYING A MAJOR ROLE IN THE WOMEN’S MARCH ON WASHINGTON

Wednesday, January 18, 2017
RAQUEL REIQUARD
Latina
Washington
RaeAnn Roca Pickett Phone: 202-621-1409 Email: raeann@latinainstitute.org

This article was originally posted on Latina.com

The day following Donald Trump's inauguration, an estimated 200,000 people will take to the streets to join the Women's March on Washington, a demonstration that aims to be inclusive of the various issues and identities under threat during Trump’s quickly approaching presidency. It’s no surprise then that Latinas, who have been on the receiving end of several of the president-elect’s attacks, can be found throughout this movement, from the march’s national committee and its celebrity ambassadors to its coordinators and the everyday protestors who will set out to Washington, D.C. to use their voice for change.

MORE: America Ferrera Will Chair the Women's March on Washington

“This march is not an anti-Trump march. We are marching for something: for human rights, women’s rights, reproductive rights,” Carmen Perez, a co-chair of the Women’s March on Washington and the executive director of The Gathering for Justice, a New York-based juvenile justice organization, tells us. “We are being intentional about being inclusive. We have to attack all the forces of evil. This is about our country; it’s about racism and fascism.”

The Chicana, along with her co-chairs – three of four of them women of color – has  worked to create a demonstration that is intersectional. Last week, the organizers released a four-page policy platform that laid out its mission, and it was clear on centering the most marginalized.

“Our liberation is bound in each other’s,” reads the document. “… We must create a society in which women, in particular women ― in particular Black women, Native women, poor women, immigrant women, Muslim women, and queer and trans women ― are free and able to care for and nurture their families, however they are formed, in safe and healthy environments free from structural impediments.”

Latinas, like other women, are not one-dimensional humans. As Perez tell us, when we walk out of our homes, we are burdened by the reality of gender pay gaps, poverty, incarceration and/or immigration.

“Our families are at stake,” Paola Mendoza, a Colombia-born filmmaker and the march's artistic director, said. “During his campaign, Trump said he’s creating the deportation force. Now he says 3 million immigrants will go. To me, that means our families and our children are at stake. Our homes will be ripped apart, children left without parents.”

That’s a devastating reality that actress-activist Diane Guerrero, who will be attending the march, knows personally. When the Orange is the New Black and Jane the Virgin star was a teenager, she came home to her biggest fear: an empty home. Disconnected from her family and forgotten by the U.S. government, Guerrero had to navigate her life – and the struggles that come with being a woman, Latinx and a child of immigrants – alone.

“My fight is strong for the immigrant community. I’m scared for undocumented folks and DACA recipients, for students in college who really thought they had a chance to find work and change the world, but I’m walking for other issues, too: climate change, health care, disability, ” she told us.

On Saturday, she, alongside her co-star Jackie Cruz, will protest with and for women, of all walks of life and with various concerns going into the next four years.

“I don’t think Trump will get anything from this, and that’s OK because it’s not for him, conservatives or people who are racist. It’s for people who care about our cause, for equality and justice for all, for communities who think they don’t have a voice, communities who think they can’t do anything. This march shows them we have their mindset; we have a heart,” Guerrero said.

For Mendoza, the Women’s March on Washington is not just about the next four years but also those that follow. While the time ahead may be dim and while our communities will face losses, she says that the resistance that will take place on Saturday will prepare us for a “grand slam” in the long run.

Cruz is up for the long fight. The Orange is the New Black actress plans to create cultural change by responding to Trump’s menacing administration through storytelling. She intends to produce stories about women, people of color and immigrants prospering – overcoming odds much like the ones these groups are currently facing.

“Through my production company, I want to tell stories that haven’t been told. I want to utilize the power that Orange has given me to create films we haven’t seen before, to share the stories we are afraid to see,” the dominicana told us.

She adds, astutely: “Our president was a celebrity, so why is his voice more important than mine?”

It’s not – and that is something this weekend’s demonstrators understand well.

Destiny Lopez, a reproductive justice activist and the co-director of All* Above All Action Fund, knows it.

“Yes we will be marching. We will be bold because we still believe that all of us, not just some of us, should be able to make the decision to have a pregnancy – not just Trump,” the mexicana said.

Actress-activist America Ferrera, who is an ambassador for the march, gets it.

"Since the election, so many fear that their voices will go unheard. As artists, women, and, most importantly, dedicated Americans, it is critical that we stand together in solidarity for the protection, dignity and rights of our communities," the Honduran said.

Jessica González-Rojas, the executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, understands it.

“We are building. We are mobilizing in key states like Florida, Texas and Virginia. We are joining Latinas [on Saturday] to send a bold message to the new government on their first day: women’s rights are human rights,” the puertorriqueña-Paraguayan said.

Actress-activist Rosie Perez, who narrated an instructional video for the demonstration, recognizes it.

“We are all in this together, so take care of yourself and others marching with and around you,” the puertorriqueña said.

That's not all. Scheduled to speak at the march are Latinas like Erika Andiola, Sophie Cruz, Aida Hurtado and Wendy Carrillo, and poster art was designed by Uruguayan Yanina Arismendi. 

Our individual and collective voices are powerful and significant, and together and aloud the women of the march intend to create change, both politically and personally.

“We are standing in radical resistance and radical love. That love is bringing us out, love for ourselves, love for our mothers, love for our grandmothers, love for our bodies, love for our Muslim sisters. We are united in love and preparing for the next four years. We will not only survive it but come out stronger and better,” Mendoza said.