By Corinne Martin
Like many Americans, I felt the approach of January 30 with a rising sense of dread. I knew that everyone would be watching 45’s first State of the Union, and I knew that the event would create anger, stress, and anxiety for those of us who care about the civil and human rights of others. So I was both relieved and excited to receive an invitation to participate in an alternate program sponsored by Hand in Hand: Domestic Employers Network and Central Ohio Worker Center called the State of OUR Union. What could have been a night of negativity was instead an uplifting, inspiring night of community and a call to action.
State of Our Union took place in Washington, D.C. and was broadcast to viewing parties across the country. Our group met at Bottom’s Up Coffee Co-op in Franklinton and began with wine and pizza, followed by the viewing of the State of Our Union. The program featured women from around the country who represent the intersectional feminist issues derided and ignored by our current administration.
One by one, brave women with myriad perspectives took to the stage to share their stories and ended their speeches with pledges to create real change in 2018. Instead of listening to the lies of an unqualified, hateful old man, we witnessed strong women standing up to resist oppression and vowing to fight for others. I was blown away.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s words made the biggest impression on me as she explained why she decided to boycott and miss her first State of the Union in over twenty years: “I could not sit and celebrate a president who rode racism, xenophobia, and sexism to the White House.” As she listed all of the obstacles women — especially women of color — face in the United States on a daily basis in terms of healthcare, equal pay, access to education, sexual violence and trauma, she repeated the refrain, “We have got work to do.”
But, like all of the other women who took the stage, she gave us hope and inspiration when she followed this with, “So there is good news because you’re here and I’m here, and at every turn the resistance which has been led by progressive women sent a clear message: Not on our watch.” Not on our watch, indeed!
My name is Corinne Martin. I believe in the power of our union, and I pledge in 2018 to fight louder and harder for what is right — for fairness and equality, and for the safety and happiness of those who cannot fight for themselves.
Corinne Martin teaches English in Columbus, Ohio.