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On the day after the 2016 election, my company had an all-staff meeting. It had been planned long in advance and only happened to coincide with the aftermath of the election. The original agenda for the meeting had been an overview of the company’s yearly budget. But when 150 of us took our seats, many of us still crying, none of us able to smile, so our director announced we would be spending the next hour and a half helping each other through what had just happened.

Why Women March

This Is Why I March—Arielle Laub

None of us had been ready to hear the words "President-Elect Trump" on the radio that morning.

The stories I heard that day are why I march. I am lucky to work in a diverse environment, where people of just about every race, religion, and gender identity are represented and respected. But that also means that the incoming Trump administration is a direct threat to many of my coworkers. During our meeting, people spoke of what this meant for them as a gay person, their right to marry so recently won. What it meant as a Japanese-American, whose family had been interned. As Latinx Americans or Black Americans or Muslim Americans, who continued to face discrimination on a daily basis, who now had a president who incited hatred against people like them.

I am a white female American who grew up in a safe, middle-class neighborhood in Los Angeles. Prejudice has had little effect on my life. But while I sat and listened to these stories, while my heart broke for my friends, it also broke for my parents and my grandparents and my great-grandparents. Because we are also Jewish.

Some days I worry we are on the brink of another civil rights crisis. Every day I feel the threat against women, against people of color, against people of different faiths.

Like most Jews, I am in this country because two generations ago, my family fled persecution. We narrowly avoided the Holocaust, but not the pogroms in Poland and Russia. We were lucky that America opened her arms to us, that we were safe here. Even so, my dad was the only Jew in his elementary school and had to explain to people why he didn’t have hooves and a tail.

Partly in response to this persecution, both sides of my family were politically and socially active. They fought and protested on the front lines during the Civil Rights Movement, protecting what they knew this country should be, protecting their friends from a present that looked so much like their past.

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So much has been accomplished since then. Not nearly enough, but so much. During that staff meeting, I was overwhelmed by the feeling that I had let every previous generation down. It was devastating to think about what our country was going to look like. Even worse was thinking about how it had looked, and all the parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles who had to go back to work in a civil rights fight they thought they had won.

Even worse was thinking about a president who had kept us safe for eight years, who had ended two wars, who oversaw the legalization of same-sex marriage, who had actively made every person of every color and gender feel loved and equal, who had fought tooth and nail to give 20 million Americans health care coverage. President Obama had given eight years of his life, of his family’s life, to make the progress this country had been waiting for. And we let him down.

During the Obama years, I had gone from very politically active to actively avoiding politics. I had a president whom I trusted behind the wheel. But after the 2016 primaries, everything changed. My boyfriend and I began phone banking for Hillary Clinton. We drove to Nevada to canvass neighborhoods. We spent hours and hours talking about the election. We were terrified of Trump, but we didn’t think he would win. Not here. Not after all this country had accomplished.

I still haven’t comprehended the results of that election night. Every day when I turn on the radio, I feel as though I have stepped into an alternate reality. Every day, things get worse than I ever imagined they could be. Some days I worry we are on the brink of another civil rights crisis. Every day I feel the threat against women, against people of color, against people of different faiths.

This is why I march.

I march because I am afraid. I march because I am heartbroken. I march because even though I did some, I did not do enough. I march because democracy has never worked without the tireless efforts of the people and because the people have been quiet for too long. I march because I do not want to let President Obama down. I march to apologize to my grandparents. I march to protect my friends. I march because this election has taught me something I didn’t know to be true — that I love this country and will fight to protect it.

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Arielle Laub