Women’s March Returns to Silicon Valley with Slogan, ‘First We Marched, Now We Run’

For San Jose resident Chandra Brooks, a mother of four and outspoken equal rights advocate, the upcoming Women’s March is a chance to recommit to the activism that defines her daily life.

A Latina-African American author and entrepreneur who wears many hats in addition to the pink knit variety sure to feature in the mass demonstration this weekend, Brooks is no stranger to community organizing. But taking part in the inaugural Women’s March last year—a spontaneous protest to a reality TV star and accused sexual predator becoming president of the United States—inspired her to redouble her efforts.

In the time since, Brooks has reached out to more women of color in the South Bay to get involved in local advocacy and run for office. She says the message this time around, however, has taken on greater urgency.

For one thing, the #MeToo movement that exposed serial harassers has culminated in #TimesUp, a leaderless initiative that aims to ensure that the LGBTQ community and people of color are represented equally in the push to combat sexual misconduct. The national reckoning will be an important part of the message at Saturday’s march, which is expected to draw tens of thousands of people to downtown San Jose.

“I think that women feel empowered by [the cause],” says Brooks, who serves as vice chair on the Santa Clara County Commission on the Status of Women, where she fights against human trafficking, for pay parity and to improve conditions for female inmates. “it had to get to this point for that to happen, but I think we're going to continue to see this movement. We’re so used to harassment that we don't really remember a whole lot until we sit down and really think back on how many times it’s happened to us because it becomes so natural for us to deal with, but now we can step up and say something about it and feel comfortable doing it.”

That has certainly been the case in Silicon Valley. Uber engineer Susan Fowler kicked off 2017 by giving the world a glimpse into the tech industry’s sexual harassment problem and bringing unprecedented accountability to the high-profile startup. Beyond the workplace, women also became more politically active. By the year’s end, Lisa Middleton won a seat on the Palm Springs City Council, making her the first transgender person elected to a non-judicial office in California. Meanwhile, Cathy Murillo was elected the first Latina mayor of Santa Barbara.

If 2017 was about coming forward, then 2018 is about marching into action, Brooks says, and Bay Area women are ready to do just that. The group putting on the Silicon Valley Women’s March say the event is time to organize, stand together and lean in. In addition to expressing outrage about the the epidemic of sexual assault and harassment, they say the march is a chance to channel that energy into a dynamic political movement.

“I think there are a lot of women who wanted to get engaged and wanted to do something locally, but weren't quite sure how to do it,” says Vicky Mattson, one of the lead organizers of the local march.

Indeed, after last year’s march and following #MeToo, women sought to keep up momentum, but to look for ways to use their newfound visibility to affect tangible change in their communities, politics and workplaces. As anyone who’s tried to transform the face of their community or industry knows, Mattson says, real change does not happen overnight and certainly not without widespread support.

And this weekend, women and their allies will come together again to march at the Bay Area Women’s March. Sister marches will be taking place in San Jose and San Francisco with the mission of “honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice” and “recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.”

Saturday’s Women's March will take place in downtown San Jose, kicking off at City Hall and heading west down Santa Clara Street to Arena Green East for a rally with speeches, music and food. This year’s speakers include Q 102.1 FM’s “Joey V & Mia Amor in the Morning” co-host Maria “Mia Amor” Sanchez, Mutsun Ohlone artist and educator Kanyon Sayers-Roods, Dreamers Roadmap founder Sarahi Espinoza Salamanca, transgender activist Aejaie Sellers and many more women of color ranging from artists and activists to CEOs and educators.

Organizers have christened the rally space “Call to Action Alley,” calling it a place where the real work begins. This year’s theme is “Hear Our Vote” and every participant is encouraged to register to vote. With 2018 being the year of the midterm elections, it’s more important than ever to make sure previously disenfranchised voices are heard, Mattson says.

“A big part of what we're doing is emphasizing pre-registration for voting, which you can do at age 16,” she says. “That’s the first step.”

In an effort to keep participants involved, the march organizers are calling on people to use the hashtag #HearOurVote and #WomensMarchBayArea to help keep track of voters and remind people about upcoming events and opportunities for involvement.

“Last year,” she adds, “it was powerful to see people take action and start showing up at meetings all over town like city council meetings or the Board of Supervisors meeting. You’d start to see the same people and it felt we’d created an active a community.”

Brooks says it’s crucial for this year’s march to include ways for women and their allies to become active immediately and find volunteer opportunities for causes that matter to them. That’s why they’ve worked with representatives from 40 non-profit, community organizations to run booths providing actionable information about their services.

When it comes to where women have been—harassed, discriminated against, barred from positions of power—Brooks says she believes that the only place for women, especially women of color, is up.

“I don't really see anything other than opportunity,” she says. “I think that since last year women have felt empowered to take our seats at decision-making tables and not be scared to boldly jump into leadership whether other people like it or not.”

Mattson agrees. Mobilizing as soon as possible is the key to overcoming the discrimination and social injustice facing women today, she says. If women’s issues are to remain at the forefront, then it’s up to them and their allies to keep them there, march organizers say.

“The measure of success of the Women's March is not how many bodies are in the street on a certain day,” Mattson says. “It’s what all of those bodies do the next day and the day after that.”

The Women’s March will kick off  at 11am Saturday outside San Jose City Hall with a rally to follow. For more details about this march or the San Francisco march and to RSVP, visit womensmarchbayarea.org.

18 Comments

  1. “Bodily autonomy”?

    If Jerry Brown’s revenue agents grab cash out of my clenched fists for California taxes, is that a violation of my “bodily autonomy”?

      • > Luong, why not use your real name? Coward.

        Because, progressives are vindictive thugs, and violent to boot.

        See: San Jose anti-Trump riots, Google firing of James Damore, Mozilla firing of Brendan EIch, etc., etc.

        There’s a reason you never see Trump bumper stickers on cars in California.

      • LOL at the hypocrisy plus Luong may be his/her real name.

        It’s disappointing that the women’s march doesn’t appear to advocate for better public schools. A significant majority in K-12 are women teachers, yet scholastic achievement in SJ and CA remains shockingly low compared to other states.

        Or address woman’s health. Since 1980, the addiction gender gap has narrowed from about [men v. women] 5:1 to about 1.4:1. We now have well over 3 times the number of women drunks and addicts than in the 80’s.

        While I applaud Chandra Brooks’s efforts, no mention of specifics or results. Jeff Rosen has declined to publicize names and photos of convicted prostitution clients. Riverside County experienced a significant drop in prostitution once their DA did.

        There’s an opportunity to effect change that benefits everyone – and women in particular, yet the march appears squandered on a victimization hissy-fit. Disappointing that the article reinforces negative stereotypes: emotional, illogical, and whiney instead of constructive recommendations.

  2. I did not realize there was a problem registering to vote. Then registering to vote if you were a Latino or Black. Last I saw was the ability to register at all. You could be white, black, liberal, Democrat, woman, man even a Republican and register to vote AS LONG AS YOU WERE A CITIZEN, ALIVE and of AGE. Now if you are Latino woman, black woman or a woman you are being discriminated against in some form or another. If you’re a Latino woman, black preferably Latino and Black woman with degrees in protesting and or writing a book, vocal, visible and all around woman desterber of some kind you’re at the forefront of this protest. Fortunately for some of these woman “wing nuts,” this is America and with that comes the ability to protest no matter how right or wrong you are. What marching in this manner does, escapes me. There are plenty of other ways to address the issue. But go ahead and protest, it will do nothing to persuade me one way or the other.

  3. American feminists are such cowards and go after soft targets. How about looking at what real feminists are in the Middle East, or you can go have a latte at Starbucks and complain about you are not being able to work more a home.

  4. > With a focus on the importance of elections, “Hear Our Vote” is the theme for Women’s March California in 2018, and centers on five levels of action:

    Voter Registration
    Voter Turnout
    Local Organization
    Increasing women in office (especially women of color)
    Electing progressive women and allies

    Well DUH!

    I wonder if it has ever occurred to any of these “activists” that aborting black female babies DECREASES the numbers of “women of color” like to occupy public office.

    I think they’re insincere.

  5. > Confirmed Speakers, in alphabetical order by first name:

    . . .

    > Joy Elan: An award-winning author and spoken word artist from Oakland and Berkeley, Joy uses her writing to advocate for civil rights for people of color, women, and people with disabilities. . . . . Despite the obstacles she faced, she overcame many of them and continues to overcome obstacles.

    . . .

    > Kanyon Sayers-Roods: A Costanoan Ohlone and Chumash, Kanyon is a Native American artist, poet, author, activist, student, and teacher. She will open the rally with a traditional blessing.

    . . .

    > Ramona “Mona” Laughing Brook Webb (emcee): An Afro-Creek queer scholar practitioner, teaching performance artist who currently serves as the Associate Artistic Director of The Queer Cultural Center. The QCC is a multiracial community-building organization that fosters the artistic, economic and cultural development of the LGBTQQAAI community and for 20 years has produced the annual National Queer Arts Festival in the Bay Area.

    . . .

    Looks to me like they’ve really gone overboard on “artists”.

    I wonder if any of these people have any idea where food comes from.

  6. Elected officials? Judiciary? Public safety? Dangerous jobs? Executives? Yup, women have been for some time. 50% of jobs? No. Equal opportunity does not mean equal outcome, nor is it prima facie proof that discrimination is the reason. Only two areas come to mind: Catholic priests and certain occupations / medications that increase risk to fetuses and female anatomy such as breast cancer. Equal pay for same position.

    Have to laugh at LGBTQ discrimination claim and “transgender activist Aejaie Sellers”. She was fired by the LGBTQ DeFrank center’s board because of staff complaints and gross mismanagement. They went from about an $800K budget and 17 staff to no paid staff and barely able to keep the doors open now. Meanwhile transgender firearms activist & instructor Nicki Stallard (featured in SJI & Mercury News) is welcomed by “old white men” (to use SJI’s language) including vets & former law enforcement at gun ranges where she volunteers. Nobody cares.

    What’s the issue, who’s a victim, what needs to change? Please explain because the article doesn’t.

  7. Overheard near city hall -“I bet this march will be a great place to pick up chicks.” and I’m thinking -couldn’t hurt to try. As the French feminists like to say -” clumsy flirting is not rape.”

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