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Times They Are A-Changin’ (Maybe)

noe tanigawa
noe tanigawa

Worldwide, over two million people participated in Women’s Marches on Saturday, concerned about U.S. positions on climate change, immigration, healthcare, reproductive rights, the world community, and more.  Here in Hawai‘i, an estimated five thousand on Maui, an equal number on Hawai‘i Island, two thousand on Kaua‘i and eight thousand more in Honolulu took the opportunity to air a diversity of concerns.  HPR’s Noe Tanigawa offers this sampling from the colorful Women’s March in Honolulu.

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Credit noe tanigawa

“Look it’s our kids’ first political march.  Hopefully not their last.”

Marna and Craig braved rain and wind Saturday with their stroller.

“But it’s a sad state of affairs when as women, we have to be marching for our own rights.  This shouldn’t be an issue at all.”

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Resistance looks different these days.

This young woman’s sign says, a woman’s place is in the resistance.

“I’m a feminist, I’m also a scientist, so it’s really hard for female scientists especially with the new administration and climate change and everything.  And I was a user of Planned Parenthood, so I’m here for our rights and all the other women in my life.”

“And even the people who don’t know that their rights are in jeopardy.” 

Honolulu authorities report eight thousand marchers on Saturday, many walking ten abreast past the King Kamehameha statue and Iolani Palace.  Maui reported five thousand at their march, two thousand were reported on Kaua'i, two thousand more rallied in Hilo, and three to three and a half thousand turned out in Kona. 

“I can’t tell you how many times I burst into tears yesterday.”

Amelia Noordhoek, co-chair of Hawai‘i’s delegate travel team is in D.C., which saw half a million people 

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Five thousand was considered a low estimate of the marchers who thronged ten deep past the Hawai'i State Capitol at the 2017 Women's March.

flood the mall.  Four hundred thousand rallied in New York City, a hundred fifty thousand in Chicago.

“And still today, it’s very emotional just speaking with each woman and hearing her experience, every one of us had a different experience but at the same time we heard and saw the same thing.  This is what democracy looks like.  It was beautiful.”

“Even on Moloka‘i, the island I came from, they organized a march of 150 – 200 people.” 

Kerrie Urosevich, co-Founder of Ceeds of Peace, also at the DC march, says this is just the kick off to serious organizing locally and nationally.

“We will be facilitating several meetings over the next year through Ceeds of Peace, making sure that we continue to mobilize from the ground up, just as this movement has happened really, from the ground up.”

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The glory of the March was the plethora of hand made signs with whimsical, ingenious, strong, hopeful, witty and pointed messages.

Sherry Campagna, Hawai‘i Statewide lead to the DC March, says some groups there are pretty angry.

“But for Hawai‘i it is and always has been about aloha for all and it’s about being aloha powered.”

There was humor:  “We Shall Overcomb.”  Prompting discussion:  “Will we become a nation of overcombers?”  And if you were looking for leaders, Gemma Garampil Weinstein, the new president of Local 5 was a stand out.

“As an immigrant, as a single mom, a woman and a union worker, I am hopeful, we are hopeful.  Yes, the next few years will be challenging and difficult but there will be great opportunity to fight for what is right.  We know how to pull together.  We know how to fight back.  And we know how to win.”

Garampil Weinstein urged support for a slate of progressive candidates in 2018.  Lisa Grandinetti works with Aikea, an arm of Local 5.  I asked her how many of her generational compadres would be turned on by the xenophobia, the racism, sexism, all the isms that bother her.

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The Hawaii State Capitol proves to be a conducive site for gathering, even in the rain, which pelted down occasionally, leaving participants soggy but spirited.

“I think a lot of us.  Because I talk to a lot of my so-called millennial friends about how we’re going to build a long lasting movement.  And as sh**y as the future seems right now, we kind of feel like it’s becoming easier and easier to agitate and organize young people, youth like ourselves, because our futures are honestly just horrible right now.  We’re not believing the lies of, Just go to college, find a great job, and whatever, anymore.”

Grandinetti:  “Those conversations over beers and those messages on Facebook really can be the start of your political consciousness.  What really needs to happen is to take that into your real life and actually have those conversations one on one, face to face.”

What do you think is the key to organizing?

Grandinetti:  “Building relationships.  Organizing is really about building personal relationships, sharing stories, building trust within your own circle in your community.  But sometimes we shy away from talking about politics and about power and about hard topics.  Organizing is confronting those things and sharing our stories of hardship and building from each other.  Then fighting together.”

A marcher in a pink knit headsock said this is her first demonstration of any kind:  “Most of my generation and my friends, it’s kind of cool.  It’s kind of like a throwback to the ‘60’s, you 

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know, and I think we’re kind of proud to be a part of it.  And hopefully it will actually show the government something, you know?”

A marcher with a more experienced look:  “I’m thinking of writing a letter to President Trump and saying, Thank you.  You have finally woken up the sleeping giant.  People who’ve been apathetic all these years and didn’t do their homework, I think they’re finally coming out and we are going to push forward.  Finally.”       


Noe Tanigawa covered art, culture and ideas for two decades at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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