To ‘be seen’: Three Miami women on why they’ll march here on Saturday

This Saturday, thousands of women from all around South Florida are expected to gather at Bayfront Park Amphitheater for the local version of the Women’s March on Washington happening on the same day and at the same time. It’s one of more than 600 local demonstrations happening across the world.

The South Florida rally is volunteer-run and has raised close to $70,000 so far to cover the costs of renting out the amphitheater and other costs associated with putting on the event. Any raised in excess will be donated to local nonprofits.

Several local nonprofits will be present and leaders from all over South Florida will speak, with a keynote by Marleine Bastien, from Fanm Ayisyen nan Miyami (FANM), an organization that works to empower Haitian women in South Florida.

Ours is a rally, not a march and that’s intentional, according to organizer Stephanie Myers. The goal is not to protest, but rather serve as a platform that connects locals with organizations doing work they care about, she says. This is so that the work of promoting women’s rights, human rights, and equality in the workplace and healthcare continues long beyond this single day.

But everyone has their own motivations.

We asked three women South Florida Women why they’re showing up.

These interviews have been lightly edited and condensed. 

Stephanie Myers is the lead organizer of the Women’s Rally in South Florida.

The goal of the rally is unity, community, and protecting each other.

It’s about getting people together. Even though the rhetoric of the election cycle was so divisive, we have to get past that divisive nature and really bring our community back together and create the changes that we really want to see happen in our own community.

I’m Jewish and I’m very aware of what this rhetoric can do in a country. It’s why you’ll see a surge of Jewish activism now.

In South Florida, a lot of people are scared. Our community coming together is a way to help us protect each other and get on the same page. Everything feels like it’s moving so fast politically and it’s hard to keep up.

A lot of people still want this to be a protest, but I’ve said this from the beginning — we’re not a protest. We didn’t want to do a march or just a protest because at the end of the day, what’s next?

Some people want to protest or are angry at Trump, but I personally feel we need to do more.

For me, personally, it’s been fundamentally about our community and really trying to find common ground. There’s so many different organizations and groups that have the same interests.

I’m having nonprofits coming on as sponsors. I thought it was important to give people in the audience a chance to learn more about organizations locally.

You have elderly people coming to this event who fought in 60s and 70s and can’t believe we’re doing this again.

I didn’t go to D.C. because I wanted to show solidarity here. Also I didn’t want to be in the freezing cold. I know a lot of people feel it’s expensive to go to D.C. even on the cheaper side, you’ll be on the bus for 15 to16 hours then be at the rally for two hours and turn around.

I want to have more people invested in what’s going to happen moving forward …and also shape the community in a way we want to see it shaped.

Beverly Tan Murray is a Singapore native who immigrated to the U.S. at age 16. She lives in Miami and is currently writing a short story collection.

I thought it was important to show up physically to participate and not just write about it or share my feelings on social media, but really stand up and be counted.

As an immigrant and a woman of color it’s so important to stand up for immigrants’ rights. We are a pluralistic country, we’re diverse and this notion that we need to harken back to a nostalgic time, a “better time” when America was “great” is not an accurate reflection of who we are as a nation.

Number two, women’s reproductive rights are near and dear to my heart.

I have family members and friends who have had to exercise their right to choose at one point in time or another. I don’t think this is a woman’s issue — it’s a human rights issue.

I think that access to affordable birth control, to STD screenings, to pap smears, and mammograms — this is a part of compassionate care that needs to be offered to women everywhere. It’s not a partisan issue, whether Democrat, Republican, or Libertarian. It’s about wanting to live in a society where every human being is cared for.

The symbolism of showing up and feeling connected to the person next to you — having everyone present and media present shows that a huge cross section of people that you live and work with in your city are coming out in support of these rights that we’re entitled to — is very important.

The fact that my community in Miami is coming together to speak up for what they believe in means a lot to me. It’s a physical show of how the agenda that this administration is trying to put in place affects not just the people in D.C. and not just a bunch of liberal coastal elites who are opposed to this administration, but people in my neighborhood.

I see it every day and it speaks to a larger galvanized collection of movements. To speak up for what we think our values are. It’s a conversation that is interesting and frankly, I’m glad we’re having it now.

I’m going with my husband and friends and planning on telling as many people as possible about the event in hopes they will come out and support as well. And hopefully if they show up that would be great, and if not and it sparks a conversation — that would be good too.

Jannelys Santos is the managing director of Villain Theater, an improv comedy club in Little Haiti.

November 8th was six days before my 26th birthday. I lost my healthcare through my parents at 26 so it felt like complete devastation that night because I’m like, “What’s going to happen to my body and my health, my mental health?”

I never participated in any type of political things until I started making those Plantain videos but this feels like the right time. People have nostalgia for the 50s and 60s, which was actually a terrible time for women, but the best part was how revolutionary it was.

Either we get marching or we’re going to have serious repercussions and I can feel them directly now because I don’t have health care. Well, I have Obamacare.

Social media only goes so far. You have to physically get out there and show a presence and a large crowd that supports what you’re thinking. If people don’t see bodies — yeah you can have hashtags and retweets — but no revolution is possible without some sort of physical representation.

It’s important to get out there and be seen and be disruptive because this election is a huge disruption on women’s lives and livelihoods.

In general, I know way too many people who are surviving on Obamacare. It’s hard to be like “Oh sorry, we’ll find something else” and nothing else is in place yet.

I’m passionate about having female role models. In the larger scale it’s also what hurt me about Hillary Clinton’s loss. I know the Obama presidency didn’t wipe everything away for African Americans, of course. But having a female president would have done so much for representation and femininity as a whole. It’s a morale we don’t have because the highest office has always been denied from us.

That was really hard for me — thinking about if I’m going to be around, and if in my lifetime , there’s going to be female president. It’s not going to be, so someone has to step up.

  • Sara

    I am one of the women that protested in the 60s and reminding myself that ‘the battle is always there . . . it’s when you choose that counts’. The time is N O W and fortunately we women always know when things have gone too far. I’m very grateful to each woman that made the effort to organize, fund and participate in this rally! ?

  • chris

    Awesome view points, we’re there with y’all!

  • You go, girls! And I’ll be with you too. And may I suggest we use this chant: http://bit.ly/2jCDQWe