Women of Color Present at Women’s March
San Diegans of all ages were present at the County Administration Building to voice their support for equal rights and female voter participation during the San Diego Women’s March, held this past Saturday, Jan. 20.
“Hear Our Vote” was the theme for this year’s march, placing emphasis on the role of women’s participation in the democratic process, including this year’s midterm elections.
The event began with a rally where women in attendance were encouraged and empowered to vote, support progressive solutions to issues facing women, and run for office. Among the speakers were notable community leaders and elected officials, including women of color.
Dulce Garcia, a local immigration lawyer and DACA recipient, spoke to the audience about how current current immigration policy is a human rights issue and called on women to participate for those who cannot make their voices heard.
“Even after 30 years, of being in this country, being an American, contributing to the economy through my labor, being a job creator, and being a business owner, I still do not have the right to vote and I cannot run for office,” Garcia stated. “So I am calling on you to run for office and to have your vote served because I cannot do that.”
Georgette Gomez, who won a seat on San Diego’s CIty Council in 2016, addressed the barriers that have been broken by women in politics in the last couple of years.
“Because of you I was elected into City Council as the first queer Chicana to be voted into office in the City of San Diego and now I am the chairwoman for our public transportation system,” Gomez expressed. “We are breaking boundaries and making history as we stand next to each other.”
State Assemblywoman Shirley Weber thanked women of color for consistently standing up to regressive leaders through their vote. She extended a special thank you to the black women of Alabama, who were instrumental in defeating Roy Moore, a Republican accused of sexually harassing underage girls, in that state’s Senate seat race this past November.
Out on the march, many were sympathetic with issues affecting women of color.
Mejgan Afshan, public affairs and policy coordinator for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, was in attendance with members of her organization. She expressed that while her group was present to welcome refugees and immigrants, they would like to get more people involved in addressing issues affecting Muslim women and minority groups.
“Because there are so many issues that are intersectional, it is literally limitless how many things are affecting Muslim women, whether it be voting, labor rights, immigration issues, or the Muslim ban,” Afshan said. “We are in solidarity with our brothers and sisters, whether it be border issues or DACA, Muslim women stand with our brothers and sisters suffering because of the negative rhetoric implemented by this administration.”
Julia Rodriguez attended the rally in support of her Puerto Rican sisters.
“There are women who have to raise a family on their own and work but it is so much more difficult because there is still no power on many parts of the island,” Julia said. “I want people to know that women in Puerto Rico, who are American citizens, can’t have a normal life anymore and nobody in the government is helping them.”
Melissa Ayala attended the march with a group of her friends. While she jokingly expressed that being part of a movement that would get under the president’s skin was a motivator, she earnestly supports movements such as Black Lives Matter, environmental conservation, the passing of a clean Dream Act, among many others.
“I am hopeful for us here now but there is a lot of work to be done; so like, stay woke,” Ayala expressed.
According to an estimate from San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman, 37,000 people gathered at the County Administration Building to rally and march through the streets of downtown San Diego.
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