Women’s March 2017

As a child of the 1990s, I was raised on the pink-and-glitter ‘girl power’ of supposed post-feminism ideals. I grew up in a household where both my parents worked, looking up to a mom who could do it all and instilled in me the confidence that I could do the same.

Back then, from my limited experience of the world as an elementary school girl, I believed adults when they told me that social progress was a continuous march upwards. Up and up: to the bigger, the better, and the more just.

But in my own march to adulthood, I quickly learned that the story was much more complicated. From the struggle of my lesbian neighbors who couldn’t marry, to the way my classmates mocked my “weird” Japanese middle name, to our Trinidadian family friend who was attacked in the street after 9/11, I could not reconcile these injustices with the narrative I had been told. The world was not just by default; it was made just by those who took action against injustice. At the same time, I refused to give up on the belief that a better world could exist.

I refused to give up on this belief because I see the groundwork for this better world everywhere around me–in our communities, our environment, and in one another. From the supernatural beauty of California’s redwoods to the more familiar, the joyful laugh of my two year old niece, there are so many things that make our country and our world great–so many things that are worth protecting.

The struggle for a better world is messy and uneven: legislative and constitutional ‘wins’ can be unraveled overnight, organizations and programs can lose crucial funding, and public opinion is malleable and subject to manipulation. Our civil liberties require ongoing maintenance. They are never guaranteed, but fought for each and every day.

For the first time in decades, the life expectancy in the U.S. is in decline. It is impossible for me to accept this statistic as business as usual. Corporate money in politics has put the health of business ahead of the health of the American people.

Now more than ever, the political climate hits close to home when I am faced with the reality that my own parents are aging. Our new administration refuses to acknowledge our right to clean water and clean air in ignoring the overwhelming scientific consensus around climate change. Not to mention, many in our newly elected government have a track record of auctioning these rights to the highest bidder, favoring policy that trims invaluable years off of our loved ones’ lives for an extra buck.

One of the most important things I learned from my mother was how to be my own advocate by using my voice and my attention against injustice. I insist my voice be heard in business deals that gamble with my family’s health. Our struggle towards a more just world depends on resistance and action now.

I’m joining the Women’s March with CEH for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families. On January 21st, I will stand in solidarity with women and our allies to demonstrate to our new government that we will organize and unite to create our healthiest, most vibrant version of America, instead of settling for an exclusive version from the past.

Michelle Endo is the Litigation Coordinator at CEH in Oakland, California. She is a Los Angeles County native and rising first year law student.