WENDY LUCAS, yak tityu tityu yak tiłhini (YTT) Northern Chumash Tribe of San Luis Obispo County and Region
Hatyu mi saqsi’ – hello, my friends.
My name is Wendy Lucas and I come from good people and from the village of tsɨtpxatu, which is Avila Beach.”
(tiłhini) <and in English> “and I speak the language of the people of San Luis Obispo.”
I am a member of yak tityu tityu yak tiłhini – Northern Chumash Tribe of San Luis Obispo County and Region. Our tribe dates back to this region for well over 10,000 years. There is not much time for a big message, because of the awesome program ahead, so I shall say this-
Love and be kind in your words and actions. Speak your truth. And know the strength and courage and resilience of all those who came before you. Otherwise you would not be here either. Whatever stories you can learn about your ancestors, whether from current family, or well-chosen history books…or sit prayerfully and ask. That knowing is critical to the strength, resilience and courage you carry today.
I have a prayer to offer in English first and then in our language, tiłhini.
I will close with saying thank you, Au’Au’, and because we have no word for goodbye, what we say is šumoqini, which means “always”.
We pray to the ocean we stand before
and that our families have stood before forever.
We pray to the ocean inside our bodies,
and in the bodies of those that are loved-
land people, sky people, and those that reside in all the waters of the earth.
We pray that we remember the teachings
of breathing together
for ourselves and for each other.
TERRY PARRY, Women’s March SLO Founding Member
Happy New Year, San Luis Obispo! WMSLO welcomes you for yet another rally and march – year 4. I am Terry Parry, a founding member of WMSLO. We are so grateful that you showed up. Here we are in the first few days of 2020. It has been 1093 days since the inauguration in 2017, and three years since Women’s March became a reality and here and around the globe we took to the streets. At this moment, we have just 290 days till the next election.
Two words come to my mind for this year 2020 – clarity and focus.
When we focus only on the past – or the future – we lose sight of where we are now. The present is what we can change. Moment to moment. And that is where we will see change and progress.
We have seen many movements at home and globally this past year, people powered and people oriented. I ask all of you to recognize your power. Think of what you can contribute in 2020. Instead of saying, “Something Must Be done” say “I must do something!” Keep your focus and your clarity, you will need it!
“The Time Is Now” is the theme of this year’s March. We came up with this slogan because we felt the urgency of the moment, especially environmentally. There is no time to waste. When it comes to saving the planet, we must have a “swing for the fence” ambition. Treating this emergency, like the true emergency it is, means that all of our energy should go into action rather than just talking about the need for action. Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist, reminds us of this when she says, “Act like your house is on fire, because it is!”
This year’s slogan is “The Time Is Now.” And that is what is on the front of our 2020 T-shirt. This year we have put something on the back of the t-shirt. Five actions to take in 2020.
#1: “SHOW UP”
And here you are! Give yourselves a round of applause. Hoot and holler. Whistle, stamp feet, make some noise! We need to be here to energize ourselves and others. People are showing up for their beliefs and each other here and globally.
On Sept 27th 2019, 6 million people in 4,500 locations in 150 countries went on strike to demand action to address climate change. On that same day 11,000 students from 153 countries declared a climate emergency. This is how we show up.
On December 15th, 3 people were killed in a Jersey City, NJ kosher market in an attack that targeted Jews. On December 29th, 5 Jews were stabbed at a Hanukkah party at a rabbi’s home in Monsey NY. In response to this, more than 10,000 people walked across the Brooklyn Bridge on January 5th in solidarity against these and all other anti-semitic hate crimes.This is how we show up.
#2: “SPEAK UP”
On January 6th of this year, the Harvey Weinstein trial began. The allegations made against him by his victims, who number more than 80, started the 2017 #MeToo movement. That movement gave survivors of sexual assault the courage and support to speak their individual truths. Since that time, thousands of victims who would have remained silent have come forward. Because of #MeToo, work is being done globally to bring justice to survivors and to create a legal system that puts the survivor first and recognizes their needs. We have a speaker today who will speak about her own experience.
Voting is the most precious right of our democracy. Almost all of us had the right to vote way back in 1919. It is amazing that in 2020, we the people still struggle with onerous voting restrictions and racially gerrymandered maps. It is our job to be well informed and pay close attention to the values and priorities of those who want to represent us.
46 years after Roe v. Wade was decided, it remains a radically unsettled precedent. On January 2nd more than 200 Republican members of Congress asked the Supreme Court to consider overturning Roe.
Remember those two words? “Focus” and “Clarity”. Whom we elect is crucial. This year with so many important decisions on the table it is very clear that we must focus on getting out the vote. There has been a great uptick in voter registrations, especially in the 18-25 age group. Our youth are getting involved in shaping their future. This gives me hope!
# 4: “RUN”
We saw an overwhelming number of women, Black, Indigenous, and People of Coloras well as LGBTIQA+ run and win various seats in government in 2018. We are continuing to see more diversity among those seeking public office. They are running because they are tired of seeing electeds who don’t look or think like them, deciding their futures. This is a wonderful opportunity for us and especially our youth to see diversity in office. As activist Mary Wright Edelman said, “You can’t be what you can’t see”.
You don’t have to be an elected official to lead. We find leaders in every walk of life who lead by their character and by their values. For example, kindness can be catching. The more we practice it, the more of it we see. We know that kindness answers the hate and fear we see around us. We lead with our common humanity, our common decency and our common values.
I will leave you with a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. which speaks to our actions for 2020. He said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
KENDRA WILLIAMS, Advocate for Survivors of Sexual Assault and Harassment
Hello, my name is Kendra Williams. I am a wife and a mother. I am a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a practice in the SLO community and since 2011 have been a lecturer in the psychology and child development department at Cal Poly.
I am here today to bring a face and a story to the impact of sexual harassment and assault women face in our community.
I, like many of you, rallied around Tarana Burke’s #metoo movement in 2017. Posting my #metoo to social media. I added my post to the community of women across this country who lived through the experience of sexual violence and harassment. I thought it was a part of my past, something that happened in my youth. What I was not prepared for was it to be a part of my future.
On Wednesday, May 2, 2018, I was made into an object, for the sexual pleasure and fetish of my colleague and tenured professor. He used his cell phone to take video images up my skirt as I stood at the mail room counter at my workplace, with my back to him, checking my mail.
Those minutes in the mail room are seared in my memory. From the touch of the phone on my leg, the visual of the flash and lens pointing up my skirt, to his flat demeanor as I turned around confronting his behavior.
I did everything right that morning, I reported to the police, placing charges for an arrest to be made. I opened a Title IV investigation with my employer, in order to restore safety to my workplace and campus. As a psychotherapist, I have treated adolescents, adults, and families living with depression, anxiety, and trauma. I spent the following days using my knowledge as a therapist to seek out the care and advocacy required to heal from this trauma.
I stand here today to inform you that justice, as it currently stands, was served.
In the Fall of 2019 my assaulter ended the 14 month legal proceedings by entering a plea, accepting a 5 year probation to a misdemeanor “Peeping Tom” charge. His employment was terminated, after he received 14 months of paid leave due to protections given under his employment status.
I was not, and am not okay with the standard in which my assault was handled. In 2020, I will be using my voice and position to bring attention and change to the systematic injustices to sexual violence and harassment.
The time is now to ask survivors what do they want, what do they need to return to their positions at school, work, home, and community. In my case,the focus was always on my assaulter, rather than on me. I was to remain silent in order to protect the criminal and employer investigations.
I will call out for police departments and DA offices to work as one. These professionals should not make basic procedural mistakes, or allow for time to pass making warrants unavailable. I will use my voice to make them understand that they are not working for a department, but rather for the “Jane Does” who are real women looking to restore safety and justice to their lives. They should be our voice in the courtroom. They MUST be our voice in the courtroom.
Through this assault I learned laws are outdated and allowing for loopholes to be found by predators, giving them the space to abuse their power. In my case the charge was a misdemeanor, with minimal consequence, and no requirement for the assaulter to have to file as a sexual predator or report to future employers of his conviction. I will be soliciting the support of our elected officials to bring change to laws. I believe that if assault and harassment were done to men at the rate in which women report, laws would be in place and would set a standard for safety for all people.
I am also taking note of those who I place my vote behind. I will be looking for them to have transparency in their position, since they are in those positions to have my voice and your voice supported at the state and federal level. You are my elected official and I will hold you accountable to the work you do for our community.
By going public, I have been so moved by the outpouring of support, but mainly how my story resonated with so many of you. My experience is not unique to me, but one that so many women live with, and never were given the safety in their workplace and community to report. Let us create the environment and resources for victims to come forward, using their voice to become SHEros, so that 2020 can be the year of equality and safety for all. The time is now.
CARMEN BOUQUIN, Climate Justice Organizer
I come here today as a young person who has seen the continued injustices of climate change and who has decided to dedicate herself to the climate movement because I know how bad it can get and I’ve also seen glimpses of how good it could be if we act.
San Luis Obispo County will feel this. Right here in SLO County we will have to build sea walls to prevent large portions of Morro Bay and Pismo Beach from being under water. Our farm workers will see heightened rates of valley fever and respiratory disease. Our farmers will have to adjust to growing food and grapes with little water and higher temperatures. People with the fewest resources will be those most affected. We have scientific consensus from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change whose latest report says we have 10 years to stop the crisis before climate change is catastrophic. One decade. But we don’t have to accept this fate.
We need to CHANGE THE POLITICAL COMMON SENSE. We can no longer accept incrementalism. We we need immediate action on every level to halt climate change. We can’t rely on everyone to stop eating meat and recycling. Yes, if you are able to eat less meat, please do.
We didn’t all cause this crisis. It is the result of hundreds of years of prioritizing profit over people. This crisis comes from decades of ignoring science, ravaging the planet’s resources, and building up a culture based on dividing each other.
Along with a transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy, we need to tear down the systems of oppression that are causing this crisis. Climate change and economic inequality are most affecting marginalized people: black, brown and indigenous people. We need to hold the people who are responsible for this crisis accountable; the corporate billionaires and the people at the top who have been strategically dividing us for profit and personal gain. We need to stop subsidizing fossil fuels and corporate agriculture. We need universities to divest from companies that produce fossil fuels.
We all want to provide for ourselves and families. With the way things are now, extreme economic inequality and worsening climate change, we can come together and make it better for all of us.
I don’t know if y’all have seen the Muppets movie. In that movie, an oil executive is attempting to buy the land under the muppet theater to extract oil. The Muppets all have to get together and stop him. And they sing a lot of songs while doing it. Like the Muppets, we have to act together, singing optional.
Most importantly, we must build up the communities we have. As climate change is causing a public health crisis and displacing people, we need action that invests in healthcare for all and affordable housing with access to public transportation. We’re going to need millions of new jobs to make this transition and to mitigate climate change. This is only going to work if these jobs prioritize workers, providing safe employment with a livable wage for all people. We need high-quality education to arm future generations with knowledge to confront this issue, so that this never happens again.
Together we can start supporting local farmers, investing in sustainable agriculture, transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy. We need to invest in the programs that feed and teach and care for those who need help. For those with privilege, it means living smaller, with less waste, using less space. Voting is critical to success, but we need to do more than vote. We need to take to the streets and demand action. We need to demand a better world and a livable future. We need to work together. We need to learn new behaviors that will put us on a path to a survivable future.
Ask yourself what you are fighting for? What are you fighting to save?
Then ask yourself what power you have. Does the system benefit you in some way. Ask yourself what you can do to help others with less? Do you have extra room in your house? Do you have extra food to make? What are you doing to support black, brown, indigenous, queer, trans, disabled and neurodivergent folks?
We have the benefit of seeing what didn’t work in the past. We now have the opportunity to do it right. If we don’t change now we will be forced to change later, but we won’t have nearly as many choices. We must think big. This is going to be difficult. As Kermit says, “It’s not easy being green.” We actually have the solutions. It is now up to us to implement them, and we must all pitch in, because the TIME TO ACT IS NOW.
I want you to yell loud enough for the people responsible for this crisis to hear you. For the banks and the corporations to hear you. But you also need to get involved. After this march go to those booths behind me and sign up. That’s where the real community work happens. It’s not just about holding up signs in the street. It’s so much more.
DIAN SOUSA, Poet
AMERICA, WE NEED A MOTHER
America, we need a mother.
Cuz Father, Father, Father, Mister, Richie Rich, Sir Daddy, Uncle Sam
you have never understood
how it is to walk this earth as a woman.
She Ze He Us They Them if we walk alone we carry a whistle,
pepper spray, a rock, brick, our car key out like a prison shank.
What kind of country is this?
It is a country in need of a mother.
America, it is time to buckle daddy
in the backseat and let mama drive.
She knows the nearest offramp
from this apocalyptic intersection of cruelty and greed.
America, it is time buckle daddy in the backseat
Or put him in the trunk. Give him a drool bucket.
Give him his 40 ounce plastic Coke bottle
burbling with poisoned water to drink.
Give him a coloring book and one red crayon
(He feeds on that color –
not the red of a beet root,
not the red-joy burst of a raspberry – No.)
Daddy craves his red – blood-fresh – hot from the vein
and he’ll get it where he can. From a woman.
From a child. From a soldier.
From every man wallet is not slick and fat.
From every woman, man, every child
whose skin is darker than his own.
America, we need a mother.
It is time to let her drive.
She doesn’t even need a car.
Her rivers and her oceans flow through the currents of our blood.
(Ah woman, we do feel them.) We feel our mother’s currents
coursing through our bodies, moving the waves, the wind.
The thunderhead. The hurricane. There she is now,
dancing in the muddy undulations of the Mississippi.
So much sacred energy and wild power. And
Daddy Warbucks, Father, Father, Father, Mister, Sir,
Yes Sir, Uncle Sam
lecherous, treacherous engineers of our damnation
you have been driving us all wrong!
You have driven us so far from the truth
of who we are. Of what we are.
We are of the Mother.
And we remember now.
We remember, we have been waiting all of our lives,
trying to re-write this pornographic fiction of the fist,
the gun, the gluttony, the blaspheming, narcoleptic finger
on the bright red button.
And out mothers and our mothers they tried and they waited.
They rallied, they voted, they wept, and they waited.
And our daughters, they will wait no more.
They are rising.
They are risen.
They hear her speaking.
She says, wake.
She says, hurry.
She says, listen. Look at me.
And we see she is a woman
because she’s been fracked,
drilled, fenced, bordered,
her wildness, ravaged
and yet, sick as she is, she holds us,
she feeds us still.
She. Ze. He. Us. They. Them. We
are her revolution and her rejuvenation.
America, we are of the mother.
and we pledge allegiance to her.
We pledge allegiance
to the wisdom of the feminine,
to the love of each other and Mother Earth
One nation with arms open wide
and minds open wider.
We pledge and promise to swoon
at the sight of the Blue Ridge Mountains,
to behold the wizened bones
of the Cumberland Plateau and cry.
To turn our heads in awe and witness
Big Sur, the grand edge of the western soul,
right where we stand together,
one nation of the Mother.
With true liberty, true justice,
and real, true life, free,
abundant for all.