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I Will Not Go Back

Five days ago, I attended the Women's March in Indianapolis. I actually made a sign with #WhyIMarch and a list of reasons. I was proud. I was excited to be a part of something so important. Standing in the crowd of peaceful protesters speaking up for equality of all people made me feel as if I was standing on top of world.

Chanting phrases like "We will not go back" propelled the adrenaline straight through my veins. The speech that encouraged that chant was given by Rabbi Sandy Sasso. Rabbi Sasso was the first woman to become a rabbi in the Jewish Reconstructionist movement. She is one of the women who paved the path I am about to walk. While I listened to her recall all of the obstacles we have overcome since the 60s, a chill ran down my spine.

After the march I joined my friends for lunch and drinks to celebrate a morning that we were all proud to be a part of. Then I helped set up for an event and enjoyed a Beer Havdalah service at a local brewery with our Jewish young professionals organization. Honestly, it was one of the best days I have had in a really long time because I managed to separate myself from the essays and applications for an entire Shabbat.

The following day, I watched the Sunday morning news cover stories from marches around the world. I realized that I had literally just participated in something that could very well end up in the history books that one day my children with read. I combed back through my photos, and through articles and Facebook posts, to see the signs that were hoisted above crowds, and the speeches that inspired hundreds of thousands of people.

On Monday evening, I went to the movies with my mom and my aunt to see "Hidden Figures," a movie I had truly been looking forward to seeing. I sat in that theater and learned about the amazing stories of Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson. These three African-American women helped shape our space program and made it possible for us to send astronaut John Glenn into orbit. The movie captured the hardships that they faced due to the color of their skin and their gender. It told the story of three extremely intelligent women who overcame the odds stacked against them and persevered.

One might think that this movie should have inspired me further, and in some ways it did. However, what struck me hardest was the fact that I never knew these three women existed. This was not the amazing space program that I was taught about as a young child. The space program in my history books taught only about the white cisgender men who went to space. It took 55 years for the story of these three women to be told.

As the credits rolled across the screen and people in the theater wiped tears from their eyes, I sat silently. I felt paralyzed. I wondered how many more years it would be before the realities of issues faced by the minority groups of my generation would be talked about and taught about.

Racism still exists. Islamophobia is real. Anti-semitism is not only still in existence, but on the rise. The LGBTQ+ community faces hatred and discrimination on a daily basis. Women are still paid less than me, and are still looked at and treated as sexual objects.

Here is what I know... This will not be easy. Each of us must stand up, not only for ourselves, but for those who are unable. We must stand up for those who fear speaking out. We must stand up for those who can not stand up for themselves. We must stand up to protect the future of our children and our grandchildren. We must act. We must write, call, and meet with our policy makers. We must give our time, our talent, and our treasure to organizations who are fighting for what we believe in. We mustn't give up. We mustn't give in. We must remember that every voice counts and that we are stronger together.

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