Carmen Perez

Women's March on Washington – Jan. 21, 2017

Carmen Perez
January 21, 2017— Washington, D.C.
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Good afternoon, family!

My name is Carmen Perez and I am the executive director of The Gathering for Justice. I am truly humbled to join and serve you as one of the national co-chairs of the Women's March alongside my sistren, Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour and Bob Bland, as well as the many many people who have worked so hard to make today happen. Thank you.

I stand here as a Chicano Mexican-American woman, as a daughter and granddaughter of farmworkers, as a family member of incarcerated and undocumented people, as a survivor of domestic violence, as a woman who knows pain and who has transformed her pain into gifts, gifts that have allowed me to see light in the darkest places.

For 20 years I have worked in America's prisons. I have seen families being torn apart, locked up in cages, many stripped of their rights, their freedoms and ultimately their lives. And the majority are black and brown, including women, women who I call sisters. This has to end. This will end because of you, because of us.

Today I join you all and raise my voice, loud and clear, to say we have had enough. We know what the problems are. We know who our enemy is. We know what the injustices have done to us and those we love.

But to overcome them we have to stand in solidarity. We have to listen to each other and know that we always have more to learn. To protect each other, we don't always have to agree. But we have to organize and stand together. We must remember that unity of action does not mean that we have to be unanimous in thought, but that injury to one is injury to all.

I am reminded of the words of my mentor and boss, Harry Belafonte. "Those who are working for the liberation of our people are only subject to friendship and support. Those who are being divisive are playing the enemy's game."

And so our responsibility is to find our way. There is an entry point for all of us to be involved in this movement, so get involved, stay involved and keep your eyes on the prize.

Know that those closest to the problem are also closest to the solution. Trust them, stand with them in your action. Because I believe what Fannie Lou Hamer said. "When I liberate myself, I liberate others. And if you don't speak, ain't nobody going to speak on behalf of you."

And to those threatening us and our livelihood, I say, "Si no nos dejan soñar, no los vamos te dejar dormir." If they don't let us dream, we will not let you sleep.

We stand here on day one of the new administration, refusing to let them sleep – not for one second. We will hold all our officials, whether elected or appointed, accountable.

There are some in this country who say we should adjust to work with and adjust to hatred. But Dr. Martin Luther King spoke of the power of being maladjusted to an unjust society.

We will not adjust to hatred and bigotry. We will resist Islamophobia, xenophobia, white supremacy, sexism, racism, misogyny and ableism. We will be brave, intentional and unapologetic in addressing the intersections of our identities, and collectively we will stand up for the most marginalized among us, because they are us.

We will not wait for some magical being to rise up and save us. We are not helpless. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are who we need.

When I see my liberation bound in your liberation and you in mine together, we will get free.

So remember, when you go back home think about why you marched and organize, organize, organize. ¡Si se puede!

Thank you!