Raquel Willis

Activist. Writer. Media Maven. Public Speaker.

A Vision of Liberation

Today, I spoke at the National Women's March on Washington. I was honored and humbled to be in such space and standing in solidarity with millions of women and other folks around the world. Unfortunately, I was not able to present my full speech, but I'm releasing it here in it's totality. I believe in the vision, I believe in the message, I believe in the power of the marginalized.

Photo by: Alex Q. Arbuckle (alexqarbuckle.com)

Photo by: Alex Q. Arbuckle (alexqarbuckle.com)

Thank you…

Before I start … take a second and look around you. These are your partners in resistance and liberation and today we must make a commitment to each other and to this movement. Let’s channel our disillusionment into finding our COLLECTIVE VOICE.

When I was younger - my father used to always tell me, “Walk like you know where you’re going.” For the longest time, it didn’t mean much to me. I thought he was just trying to be deep. But when I was 19, he died and I quickly learned what he meant. I no longer had his guidance as a safety net and that loss pushed me to figure out what kind of life I wanted to live and the person I wanted to be. I FOUND MY VOICE.

Since then I’ve been able to see every instance of LOSS or DISAPPOINTMENT, as an opportunity to GROW.

Today I stand here as a queer Black transgender woman from Augusta, Ga. But I am more these labels. I am also a daughter, a sister, an Auntie, a friend, a lover, a human, a feminist...

And although I’m glad to be here now, it’s disheartening that women like me were an afterthought in the initial planning of this march. Many of us had to stand a little taller… to be heard and that exclusion is nothing new.

Trans women of color like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera lit the fire on the LGBTQIA Right Movement but were quickly pushed aside.

They share a common thread with another revolutionary woman I look up to - Sojourner Truth… Just like her Black women, other women of color, trans women, queer women and many others - are still asking - AIN’T I A WOMAN?!

As we commit to each other to build this movement of resistance and liberation, NO ONE can be an afterthought. We have a chance to be stronger and better than we ever have before - and that starts with having hard conversations and being held accountable.

But as I look out, I see possibility… I see a committed group of EMPATHETIC WARRIORS… I know that we have the power to create a NEW VISION OF LIBERATION.

A world where each and everyone of you will hear your voice as loud as I hear mine in this moment.

A world where LITTLE GIRLS are told they can be confident and strong, LITTLE BOYS are allowed to cry and show affection and LITTLE KIDS that fit into neither box are given their unconditional love they deserve…

A world where our NATIVE FAMILY isn’t silenced on land that was stolen from them.

A world where transgender kids like GAVIN GRIMM or ASHTON WHITAKER don’t wake up and go to schools where the teachers and staff are indistinguishable from bullies.

A world where a Black person whether their name is FREDDIE GRAY or REKIA BOYD isn’t struck down by law enforcement

A world where SEX WORKERS aren’t demonized and cast away.

A world where BRAVE IMMIGRANTS aren’t vilified for moving for a better life.

A world where Black and Brown transgender woman named MESHA CALDWELL and JASMINE SIERRA don’t have their lives taken just for existing.

A world where PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES are fully counted and represented.

A world where women have the right to choose the fate of their bodies.

A world where I can say BLACK LIVES MATTER or TRANS IS BEAUTIFUL or FREE PALESTINE and no one else feels that I’m taking anything from them.

A world where fear and ignorance never eclipses love and empathy.

NOW THAT WE KNOW WHERE WE’RE GOING, WE - CAN’T - TURN - BACK.

We must take ourselves more seriously than ever and be BOLDER in our convictions.

WE MUST BE RADICAL IN OUR LOVE OF OURSELVES AND EACH OTHER so no one can threaten this vision.

I hope on this day, we can all lay down any doubt we may have in OUR POWER. As I look out at YOU – all of my sisters, brothers and siblings… I see the start of this vision.

This march is one critical step. So TODAY, let’s show the world what liberation looks like.