We were supposed to be in Washington, D.C. for Inauguration Day. But what we did instead was way better.
See, my daughter was very excited to see “a girl” become President. As an almost-five-year-old, she wasn’t interested in politics, policy, or the latest controversy. It was about seeing someone of her gender in the White House for the first time. So we booked tickets for our family in the hopes that Hillary Clinton would win.
We Vote Together
On November 8, we went to vote. As we do in every election (and we vote in every election), we voted in-person with our kids: they meet neighbors and volunteers, get an “I voted” sticker, and, most importantly, participate in the democratic process. My wife is a history teacher, and so, in honor of the original suffragettes, we wore yellow roses to vote that day.
But Election Day did not bring the result we had voted for.
We thought about still going to Washington, D.C. – to visit my family who lives there and take part in the National Women’s March. But flying across the country with two young kids was just not in the cards. However, we wanted to do something; not just because we were anxious about the future but because it is who we are and what we do.
We March Together
My wife and I have always been activists. We have marched for immigrant rights, led lobby trips on clean energy, fought as allies on equal rights for the LGBTQ community, and picketed against unfair labor practices. This was nothing new. Except now we had kids.
We exchanged a couple of articles on how to protest with kids and even did a “test run” – joining over 1,000 fellow students from our daughter’s school in a march for equality through UCLA’s campus. The message was positive and inspiration because the organizers wanted to teach the kids what to fight for (and not against). We explained to our daughter (our son was asleep through the whole march) about why we were marching, worked together to make our signs, and answered all her questions as honestly as we could. And we had a great time!
With the waters officially “tested” at the kid’s march, we decided to take both kids to the Women’s March in Los Angeles. Earlier in the week, we had spoken with one of the organizers who said they were anticipating 50-60,000 supporters to show up. We joked that it would be over 100,000. So we made a plan:
- Pack lots of snacks, extra clothes, and Sharpie our phone numbers on our kids
- Leave early and take public transit
- Decide on a march route and exit plan
- Keep a positive attitude
When we got to our train station to take public transit to the March, we realized that it was going to be way more than 100,000. The platform was packed with more people than on game days. People were taking the train in the other direction to the end of the line to get back on the train in the direction of the march. We let two completely packed trains go by and then, like the world travelers we are, we pulled an audible (to hell with our plan!). We pushed our way onto the third, packed train.
There wasn’t any space to stand and so we held our kids up in the air, held onto the nearest person/pole, and rode downtown on the hour-long trip. No one got off because everyone was going to the march. It was a great atmosphere – we met men, women, and children who were going to support women’s rights, immigrant rights, LGBTQ rights, and plain-old human rights. There were some anti-Trump signs but, for the most part, people were there to send a message of hope, unity, and love.
When we finally arrived at the March, the streets were already so full of people that the police had to open up additional march routes. And more people kept coming. One of our friends waited 2 1/2 hours to catch a train downtown, but she was determined to make it. It felt like all of Los Angeles was there – all different colors, sizes, backgrounds, races, genders, and more. We met friends and strangers. We chanted, we danced, we listened to speeches, and we even followed around a giant ball with the word “Love” emblazoned on it (the tantrum that resulted from that one was not fun!). We spent about 2 hours marching before heading home on another packed train, where we learned that attendees surged past 750,000 people, just in Los Angeles.
We Volunteer Together
Since the marches, there has been a lot of talk about “what’s next” or complaints that it didn’t mean anything because people had just checked the box for their activism and would move on to something else. That hasn’t been our experience. We have heard from friends across the country who are calling, writing, and running for office. People who were “Facebook activists” now becoming real activists.
For our family, this is nothing new. You will still see us at rallies, protest marches, phone banks, and volunteer events. In fact, this weekend we are joining Mayor Eric Garcetti – one of the most outspoken advocates for human rights – at a volunteer event to assemble kits to help recently homeless youth settle into their new homes and stay off the streets for good. Because in our family, we vote together. We march together. We volunteer together. That is who we are as parents and what we want to teach our kids.