Would you like some milk of magnesia? asked the grey-bobbed matriarch fresh from Standing Rock. Though I don’t think she meant any harm, she mom-shamed my sister, whose 2-month old slept swaddled to her chest. My niece was possibly the youngest marcher at the Women’s March 2017 in Washington DC. Other women would tell Abby, “You can tell her she was here some day,” but this mom told us that her son was back on the plains, recovering from a tear-gassing.
How did we end up there—sisters squeezing each other’s hands to reassure Abby, while letting her (im)possibility sink in? Would this new administration really use gas against women (and their children) on its land? Never. Surely?
We got there by metro, like the half-million other marchers that day. We got there with faith in civil rights and the laws of the land. When that mother’s story conjured fear in me, I comforted myself by mouthing from the First Amendment: “The right to petition the government peaceably for a redress of grievances.”
Most of us who marched should have been safe. Mostly, we felt safe, but only because of the tradition and the laws of the land. Something curdled under the milky surface of our democracy’s latest yield. Read More