A Kaleidoscope of Protest

womens-marchSaturday January 20, 2017

At the downtown transit hub, local groups assemble. They carry homemade signs. I am a person. Hell hath no fury like 157 million women scorned.

Some of the women have special gear: handmade pink pussy hats, pink feather boas, pink face paint. Others bring only themselves. Safety opportunity dignity.

People pour into the convention center plaza by the harbour. Emblems of our collective life frame the main stage. Docks, soaring seagulls, mists, mountains and water surround us.  Climate change is real. We are an international port city. Diversity is real.

A group of young socialists trade signs for donations. Brandishing mine, I push my way to the front of the crowd. Education not deportation. Fight sexism.

On the stage, Indigenous leaders robe up in tribal blankets for a traditional welcome. I spot Metis Elder Aline Laflamme — one of my heroines, a model of dignity, wisdom and compassion. Make America kind again.

“Daughters of the Drum,” says an organizer over the PA, “go to the red tent.” Aline leaves the stage. The red tent: where women gather collective strength. I’m with her!

“Look who’s here!” Rev. Jaylynn Byassee, a fellow American citizen, greets me. “I’m just so exhausted,” she says. “I feel the pressure in my home state of Texas, and in our shared state of North Carolina, and on my last trip to Lebanon, hearing women’s stories…but I had to come today, to find strength in community.” We become stronger together.

Voices of singing women radiate from the stage. A young Coast Salish elder welcomes us. “This is not the time to sit in complacency,” she says, “and smugly watch what goes on below that imaginary line imposed on so many Indigenous peoples! We have problems on our side of the border too!” Women for the future.

A Malaysian gentleman inspects my sign. “I don’t like this man,” he says. “My daughter is sixteen years old. He said about his own daughter that if she were someone different he would marry her. Can you imagine! His own daughter! How terrible!” Hear our roar.

On the bus back to synagogue. A Jamaican man sits beside me. “He’s getting ready to feather his buddies’ nests, isn’t he? I’ve been watching you on TV all morning. All those crones!” A woman’s place is in the resistance.

Rabbi Susan Shamash leads the Torah service. “This week’s Torah portion, Shmot, is all about the power of women! Women who set liberation in motion! Women who work together across difference to raise the baby Moses!” When they go low, we go high.

Rabbi Hannah Dresner offers a Torah commentary about cosmic female power. “As people crossed the Red Sea to freedom, through a narrow channel between the waters, they recognized God, calling out ‘This is the God who birthed me!’” Rise, sister rise.

Equality. Diversity. Environmental Protection. Education. Kindness. Community. Indigenous Rights. Respect. Generosity. Coalition-building. Spirituality.

We may be here for different reasons — and we are all here together.


Image: Women’s March on Washington, Vancouver, by Laura Duhan Kaplan. An earlier version of this post was published at Rabbis Without Borders.

    1. That underscores my conclusion exactly! I don’t know if the person who made the sign was thinking of insurance companies, state legislatures, the U.S. President, the Canadian Prime Minister, law enforcement agencies, the capitalist machine and its pay scales — the event drew people with so many interests and concerns!

  1. This is wonderful, Laura! May I share your post on my Facebook feed?

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