On Jan. 20, the United States witnessed the inauguration of its 45th President. Many greeted the new administration with joy and celebration, but for others, Saturday held the moment they truly looked forward to. Not because of the back-to-back parties, brunches and formal dances to attend, but for the chance to accomplish what the overwhelming popular vote numbers did not—–a battle cry to demand a difference.
Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington, along with the similarly-themed and well-attended protests around the world, sparked from anger and unease many felt towards the Trump administration. After watching a thrice-married businessman, reality show star, chauvinist and xenophobe take command in the nation’s highest office, protesters took to the streets with signs and symbols of their dearest causes. Chants and rebel yells challenged policy-makers to respect the power of their votes on crucial issues, such as climate change, reproductive rights, immigration policies and the generational crises affecting people of color. Texas was also the site of several sprawling demonstrations, including one in Austin attended by fellow Briefing Moms Panel member and blogger Misty Hook.
Accompanied by her 14-year-old son, Ian, Hook joined 40,000 other protesters during Saturday’s March On Austin. What follows is a chat with the two of them about what they witnessed, the issues represented and what voters should keep in mind when the next Election Day comes around.
What inspired you to participate in the March On Austin?
Misty- “I grew up in a feminist household. My mother and grandmother were very strong feminists and as a family, we would boycott offensive products and raise money for the underprivileged. My father, who retired years ago, was a United Methodist minister and part of the church’s tradition is being very involved in social justice.
I always wanted to raise my child to do the same thing,a so I’ve made a very big effort to encourage Ian to speak up and to help do what we could for others.”
What was the tone of the March? Were there any causes being represented that took you by surprise?
IAN- “It felt very positive. There were more views being expressed there than women’s rights: there were groups chanting about immigration rights, Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ rights too. There were a lot of different causes being encompassed, all at the one rally.”
What did you enjoy about the March?
IAN- “There were very few other teens and children there, but watching all kinds of different people work together was what made it so great. I remember hearing chants saying, ‘my body my choice’ and ‘show me what democracy looks like.’ ”
MISTY- “The over-arching issue was anti-Trump sentiment and pro-woman power. We also saw pro-immigration, pro-environment, pro affordable education and anti-Betsy-DeVos pro-education signs [Trump’s inexperienced nominee for heading the Dept. Of Education]. I wanted to instill in Ian that protest is a part of our democracy and that the majority of people in the US have been too silent for too long.”
Which issue are you the most impassioned about?
“I would say it’s the ‘enforced birth movement [pro-life].’ If you control women’s fertility, then you control the woman. If the cause were truly about preserving life, there would be more generous health and family services. TX is a grand example of this, the state has closed so many Planned Parenthood offices that they’re making affordable healthcare harder to find, so the maternal mortality rate has doubled. TX now has the highest Maternal mortality rate [of any state] in the US.”
What should voters remember when it’s time to hit the polls?
IAN- “Our class is reading To Kill A Mockingbird right now, and I remember [reading that] Atticus told Scout to ‘put yourself in the place of people you’re not.’ When it comes to people of color, Muslims, immigrants who have to leave their home countries to stay safe, people need to try fitting in the shoes of others and remember to have kindness.”