Meet three generations of Miami women marching on Washington

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On Saturday morning, Jan. 21, my daughter Elizabeth, granddaughter Emmy, and I will board a flight from Miami to DC.  My daughter Rebekah and son-in-law Eric will board a bus from New York City Friday night. Our plan is to rendezvous and be together for this moment in history. Why are three generations of Dugoni-Shoaf women (+ one feminist male spouse) going to the Women’s March in Washington?  What follows is my attempt to answer that question.

I’ve been a resident of Miami-Dade for more than 60 years. I grew up in “Northside” when there were more cows than people.  In time my family moved east, and I’ve been a resident of Miami Shores since 1965. I married young, became a physical therapist, then stay-at-home mom with four children, then attended seminary. I recently retired from a second career as Presbyterian minister, but I’m still active in those issues and passions that inspire me to make this world a better place for my five grandchildren and everyone else’s, too.

I’m going to the march because my daughters invited me just days after the election.  We were all in our initial responses to the election result. Mine was to go quiet and to ponder “what now?”  I was exhausted by the horrible race that had just been run by all of us.  It seemed to me that we, and by we, I mean the United States electorate, were caught up in a “news” cycle that had taken on a life of its own.

No matter one’s persuasion, with very few exceptions, wherever one turned for updates, the tone and tenor stoked our personal and collective fires of dissension, distrust, and division.

I knew I had to be honest with my daughters. If I went to the march, I would not go in anger, disgust, or resistance – though these responses, in part, fuel my decision to become a visible and active participant in the “What now?”  I needed to go another way, a way of honest and deep inquiry – a way of “Why and how and where do I, do we, go from here?”

My daughters’ response was, “Mom, come and march in your way, and we will in ours.”

I’m going to the march because I am a liberation activist. In the 1980s, when I studied for the ministry, I was introduced to liberation theology.  Today, I think and act “liberation” as I question and confront the status quo.

While the status quo locally, nationally, and globally still causes me to challenge classism, racism, and sexism, I have become sensitized to other “isms” and ideologies (more recently, homophobia, ableism, Islamophobia).  I’m going to the march not only as a critic of the status quo but also as a witness to the eternal possibility of becoming free from what binds.

I’m going to the march because not going is a response I will regret.  I have become more aware of my complicity in the status quo. I have participated in the emerging and ascending ideologies and “isms” of these days – at times, active and knowing, at other times, passive and unintentional.  It’s the passive and unintentional that is most troubling to me, for it takes me to one of my generation’s proposals: “Turn on, tune in, drop out.”

Whatever the reasons or rationale, there were times when I took a pass, when I didn’t show up.  When I met young women who argued the offensive on patriarchy had been won or when I experienced a selectivity in my children’s public schools that moved my own children forward and left others behind, I “let it be.” I became complicit.  I’m going to the march because this generation’s proposal, “tune in, turn out” has re-ignited in me a spirit of hope, of  “Yes, we can.”

I’m going to the march because my participation matters.

With my daughters, my son-in-law and my oldest granddaughter beside me and all the others that are preparing to be there as well, I have the good fortune, the wondrous opportunity, to participate in something that is bigger than me and will endure long after me – perhaps in large ways, but most assuredly in small ways.

It will make a difference that I and my eight-year-old granddaughter and my thirty-something daughters  will hold hands as we walk, laugh and likely complain (it’s going to be cold, crowded, and chaotic after all) as we go this distance, this march, together.