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The 2018 March in Denver.
The 2018 March in Denver.
Ken Hamblin III

Op Ed: Everyone Belongs in Who-Ville

In the Dr. Seuss book Horton Hears a Who!, the fate of an entire civilization, housed on a tiny speck of dust, rests in the trunk of a single elephant, who just so happens to have ears as big as his heart. Horton vows to protect all the Whos in Who-ville from harm, despite the disbelief and ridicule of his friends and neighbors, because “a person is a person, no matter how small.” It isn’t until every Who in Who-ville shouts, demands to be heard, that Horton’s friends finally acknowledge their existence and commit to help.

Theodor Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) created Horton after seeing post-WWII devastation in Japan — confronting his own anti-Japanese bias. Sixty-four years later, has our hearing improved?

For those who are targeted and marginalized by oppression since the beginning of this country, how long until they are heard and recognized as fully human, deserving of life, dignity and opportunity?

A new generation of activists, voters and community leaders has been ignited to listen to those who have been silenced, unite under the banner of anti-oppression, and act with intention. "LISTEN. UNITE. ACT.", the theme of the 2019 Womxn’s March Denver, began with a series of community forums Thursdays in December, and continues Tuesdays in January. #IMarchBecause, in listening and uniting in understanding, we act in support of justice, inclusion and intersectionality.

Intersectionality asks us to think critically, to consider our own complex identities and the complex identities of others. It asks us to examine who has access to power, who has shaped our history as a nation, and the origins of our assumptions. It is this very process that allows us to holistically see lived experience, and the pervasiveness of oppression in all its manifestations.

In a complex environment of red and blue — often described as purple — Colorado is a political and geographic intersection of opinions and beliefs. While backdrops of purple mountain majesties and two years of bipartisan legislative efforts proudly made national headlines, divisiveness still seeps into our communities.

The voices echo from Who-ville at any elevation. But here, we are indeed listening, uniting and acting.

Intersectionality is not just the word of the day, it is our path forward. We know this because this movement, including the Womxn’s March, has struggled for so long to build meaningful coalitions.

Today, we step into the work.

Today, we know better because we listened, as a march, as a movement, as a people committed to justice. We listened to the voices of the marginalized — those targeted by sexism, racism, classism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, heterosexism, cissexism and more. We continue to build relationships, internally and externally.
Today, we unite as allies of those directly targeted by oppression, in the global movement for justice, recognition, and healing.

Today, we act to dismantle oppression in all its forms; we unapologetically commit to making our state, our nation, our world, a safe and equitable place for all.

Inclusion develops and nurtures a culture of welcoming and understanding, and builds equity to help marginalized citizens thrive in society.

The new spelling of Womxn’s March Denver uses an X to literally and symbolically recognize the State of Colorado’s recent non-binary identity designation. X is the intersection of female, male and non-binary identity, and both science and generations of cultural history recognize that the human condition has a spectrum of identity. #XincludesEveryone. Our preparations for January 19, 2019, include community forums about intersectionality as our conversations and actions embrace belonging with inclusion. (All events are found on our website, womxnsmarchdenver.org.)

We are ready to march again, in support of dignity, growth, respect and community. We march with inclusion to create greater abundance.

Please Listen. Unite. Act. With Us.

Co-written by Regan Byrd and Pat Smith, with review by Angela Astle. The Leadership Team of the 2019 Womxn’s March Denver includes Astle, executive producer and rounder of AthenaProjectArts.org; Sharon Hwang, owner, The Wellness Center Inc.; Byrd, founder, Regan Byrd Consulting LLC; Brenda Herrera-Moreno, founder, (In)Visible Paradigms LLC; and others. Find out more at womxnsmarchdenver.org.

Westword occasionally publishes op eds on topics of interest to the Denver community. Have one you'd like to submit? Send it to editorial@westword.com.

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