Ada Briceno Gabriela Gonzalez Games Jennifer Beuthin Longform News Nichole Ramirez OC Women's March Politics

The OC Women’s March Organizers Reflect on the Past Two Years’ Events—and How This Saturday’s Will Be the Best Yet

The OC Women’s March Organizers Reflect on the Past Two Years’ Events—and How This Saturday’s Will Be the Best Yet
Illustration by Michael Ziobrowski

On a chilly, early Saturday morning in January 2017, an estimated 20,000 individuals gathered by the French Road plaza in Downtown Santa Ana for the first OC Women’s March. The native contingent of the nationwide Women’s March that was sparked by the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States united an unprecedented quantity of individuals beneath the banner of resistance and solidarity for social-justice causes. A second march befell a yr later, with round 25,000 attendees who have been simply as indignant and uncooked as the yr prior.

We’re now about to enter the third yr of Trump’s regime, and the endless information cycle continuously charts doom, however the organizers of the OC Women’s March are optimistic their continued efforts, together with this Saturday’s occasion, will mobilize extra individuals to become involved with their group and vote come 2020.

OC Weekly spoke with three OC Women’s March organizers about previous marches, the modifications which have taken place and this weekend’s occasion. Ada Briceño of Unite Right here and chairwoman of the Democratic Social gathering of Orange County; Jennifer Beuthin of the Orange County Staff Affiliation (OCEA); Gabriela Gonzalez of Casa de Familia; and OC Women’s March publicist Nichole Ramirez, from Deliberate Parenthood, have all been concerned in a method or one other with group organizing for years.

This interview has been edited for size and readability.

OC WEEKLY: Let’s tread again to the starting and keep in mind how this occasion happened: as a grassroots protest to the proven fact that Donald Trump turned president, famous what a racist and misogynist he’s, and so on. At the first occasion, there was a very righteous air of solidarity that got here out, and two years later, Trump continues to be in workplace and loads of horrendous actions have occurred which have finished actual injury. I’ve a two-part query: How do you, as organizers, keep constructive amid that actuality, and the way do you focus or plan your occasions to maintain individuals staying constructive as properly?

ADA BRICEÑO: I simply really feel prefer it’s a tremendous time to be an organizer. It’s a tremendous time to be a pacesetter in Orange County. I can’t categorical sufficient the enthusiasm I really feel to see greater than 30 organizations come collectively this yr once more to ensure we transfer ahead in 2020. The cause why is as a result of we noticed the large blue wave occur all through, the power and enthusiasms that many people on the floor have been constructing all through the years—however most essential, the previous two years. I consider it was propelled, in an enormous half, due to the Women’s March. It allowed us to return collectively, to know that we have been broader than a number of people and some standard suspects which were organizing in Orange County. It simply paves the means for our victory right here.

JENNIFER BEUTHIN: I feel the first yr for the march was an awakening and a name to motion. Orange County has been the mannequin throughout the nation of what the energy of that solidarity and continued activism can create.

There’s a lot momentum right here when it comes to what we’ve been capable of do, each electorally on this final election and in addition in group constructing the place individuals who perhaps had by no means been concerned in partaking in civic activism got here out collectively and discovered how they might make an impression and a distinction of their group. As a result of that momentum has continued all through these two years. . . .

The means that you simply requested the query—how do you retain individuals engaged and concerned?—that’s truly not the query that we’ve got to ask as people who find themselves organizing as a result of that activism and that spirit is right here in Orange County. We live it. We noticed it in November, and it’s reflective in the actually broad coalition of group teams which have continued to increase and diversify, which might be eager to take part and proceed that momentum into the years to return.

It’s not a dilemma like when you consider what Orange County was, when it was the stronghold for ideologies that have been anti-women, anti-choice, anti-LGBT, anti-immigrant, anti-everything and also you’re kind of scouring to determine who else can stand collectively to battle again towards these things. Now we’re in a second during which everyone needs to leap in and proceed to rework the place we stay. That’s inspiring not solely right here, but in addition, I feel, to individuals all over the place.

Wanting again on the first march and the first rally that occurred, how did it match your expectations? Did it surpass them, or did you guys really feel pretty assured that it was going to be a hit?

BEUTHIN: It was the most superb expertise ever. It was so phenomenal. We undoubtedly didn’t assume we have been going to have that many individuals. It was overwhelming in the most constructive [sense]; it was like a life-changing expertise. I do know that sounds trite, nevertheless it was completely superb. It undoubtedly overwhelmed us, and it was simply the most unbelievable factor ever.

BRICEÑO: For me, as an organizer on the floor for 27 years, I by no means believed or imagined I might see one thing like this. . . . I by no means thought that Orange County might see one thing so humongous and that it might be led by ladies. That was undoubtedly one thing that exceeded my expectations. . . . The outcomes that got here out of that—not solely the vote, but in addition the quantity of girls who ran. The individuals who stated, “I’m going to run because I went to the march.” Individuals who voted simply because. Not solely the day that we have been there, but in addition the outcomes afterward, the unity that got here with that—the relationships that have been created after the march have been extraordinary and long-lasting. I by no means thought that may occur.

GABRIELA GONZALEZ: I used to be truly out of the nation at the time, so it was actually irritating to observe it unfold on-line whereas not being right here for that first march. It was actually thrilling additionally to get the reside video and the photographs. . . . I cried. I need to cry proper now, considering again.

All of the ladies in my household—[except] for my mom, who’s distant—participated. For me, personally, that was so thrilling as a result of that’s one thing we usually see occur elsewhere resembling Los Angeles or Chicago or New York or someplace, one other place in the world. Right here we see any such activism that’s women-led, as we’ve stated, from Orange County. The Orange Curtain. That was tremendous thrilling. After which to have these superb Latina ladies from my life collaborating. Simply seeing my Eight-year-old niece [involved] was simply superior. That was cool.

BEUTHIN: I had an analogous expertise. I keep in mind strolling round the nook to get to the starting of the march and being utterly overwhelmed by how many individuals have been there, to the level of tears. After which as we have been marching, seeing households flip the nook and have the similar expertise that I had, it was like this recognition of “Oh, my gosh, I’m not alone” and “Oh, my gosh, I’m not powerless.”

It’s not only a factor to say that it was an awakening; it actually, really felt like an awakening in a visceral sense. For me, for all the individuals I noticed there. For these of us who’ve labored in activism and civic engagement for a very long time, I feel there are individuals in our circles who’re actually engaged and lively, after which there’s, like, [people from the different] lives that you’ve, the place you’re with household otherwise you’re with buddies whom you grew up with, perhaps, who’re doing various things or in several phases of their life, and, once more, to really feel that everyone was woke up and speaking about this and felt empowered by it was a complete key change right here.

Simply listening to you guys saying how overwhelming the first occasion was, has that been inspiring individuals to need to take part with the organizers of the Women’s March, or has that affected fundraising efforts in
any approach?

BRICEÑO: I consider that a coalition has grown as the years have moved. Final yr, there was an enormous effort to ensure we invited individuals of shade in a extra intense option to the second march. So in consequence, we noticed an entire lot of folks come to the desk to arrange it. And we noticed this once more this yr. Sure, we’ve totally different companions; we’ve got further companions. Individuals need to become involved. It’s transformative.

GONZALEZ: I feel loads of teams are getting concerned inside their very own organizations to help and do issues akin to organizing their very own teams to return out and march or doing signal events. We have now the Native American ladies who’ve planning conferences only for the march to allow them to get organized. I feel that’s actually lovely, too.

Illustration by Michael Ziobrowski

In order organizers, how do you plan to make the OC Women’s March and rally reflective of the wants of the weak communities inside OC, particularly?

BEUTHIN: I feel that considered one of the issues we’re actually enthusiastic about this yr is that this march. We’ve acquired indicators and a tag line that asserts that that is our motion and it’s our time. Inside that, we’ve actually been intentional about an inclusive march that not solely creates area for everybody to return collectively and share in solidarity in our points, but in addition to do it in a means that’s acknowledged inside the march.

Final yr, there have been a ton of various audio system who spoke at the starting and at the finish of the march. We beloved that, and that was superior. This yr, I feel there’s an intensive objective of bringing all of that and integrating it into the march, in order that quite than take heed to a bunch of individuals converse, inside the march there are totally different teams which might be expressing their objective for being a part of it.

For the people at OCEA, who I’ve had the privilege of representing all these years, I do know that we’ve actually been preventing for equal pay as a result of ladies in Orange County make much less. The pay hole is bigger in Orange County than another county authorities in the state of California, in accordance with a current audit. We’re preventing for youngster look after staff as a result of, God forbid, you be capable of come again to work, after which see your child and have a clean transition once you come again. They’re constructing all these million-dollar buildings down in the civic middle, so why not put that in?

There are different communities who share in solidarity in these values additionally coming to the desk with different points. . . . When it comes to being focused by racist assaults, no matter it’s, there are areas in the march for individuals to say what brings them there and to be acknowledged for it and to face in solidarity with their sisters and brothers as we stroll via the streets of Santa Ana.

BRICEÑO: I might say that we’re reaching out, proper? We’ve our fliers in a number of languages. We’re going into faculties, into excessive faculties, into schools. We’re reaching out. We did a canvass for small companies round the space to know what we’re doing and to ensure they know they usually’re part of it. However we’re additionally talking about it in neighborhoods. We’re chatting with janitors, we’re chatting with grocery staff, [and] we’re chatting with lodge staff. Labor is gonna be well-represented. Lots of the people who’re on the committee are organizers, so you’ve the Arab-Muslim group represented, the Native People represented. The objective is to ensure they’re popping out in nice numbers to the march.

NICHOLE RAMIREZ: I feel what’s actually cool to exhibit is the proven fact that we’re bringing everyone in, particularly on the organizing aspect. It’s simply one thing actually small the place we determined this yr, as an alternative of getting our conferences in the center of the day, when some individuals might not have the ability to get to them, we’ve been various them. Typically, we’ll have them in the center of the day; different occasions, we’ll have them at night time and typically on the weekend to make sure that everyone is ready to make it, in order that it’s not only for people who find themselves working the normal 9-to-5. I feel that even that small change permitting us to convey extra individuals to the desk demonstrates that.

BRICEÑO: And we’re additionally reaching out to Spanish press, totally different information sources in numerous languages to be sure that Orange County is represented.

GONZALEZ: That’s big as a result of there’s an enormous variety of Latinos who’re right here on the website for the march in Santa Ana who reside right here. Additionally, we’re inviting our victims and survivors to march underneath the banner of our motion, our psychological well being. Seventy % of the shoppers we serve [at Casa de Familia] are victims of horrific crimes, and far of them are ladies and women. We’re actually excited to have the ability to permit this chance for our survivors to have a voice as properly in the group and to really feel that they’ve a protected place to precise themselves.

Numerous these issues that you simply guys are doing to usher in a various crowd is actually gratifying to listen to. It’s truly type of associated to my subsequent query, which touches upon how, as you’re in all probability conscious, the largest and largest criticism about the first Women’s March nationwide was that it appeared to prioritize the presence and voices of white, cisgender ladies, or that for white, cisgender ladies, it appeared as if it was simply one other day to hang around or whatnot. The pussy hats appeared to actually irritate individuals. Listening to that you simply guys are working onerous to incorporate individuals from numerous backgrounds and an enormous labor, working-class background, it appears as if you’re actually addressing that head-on. How would you reply to that persevering with stigma or status that folks have that provides individuals of shade or transgender individuals slightly pause to embrace the Women’s March?

BRICEÑO: For me, all the points which might be cared about, we now have to hitch and converse with one voice if we’re going to ensure we get via them. Bringing your voice to the area is essential as a result of I’m positive these are the points which are necessary to the people who’ve been disenfranchised or don’t have a voice. We’re going to converse that voice.

The Women’s March has been very open and really clear about uplifting rights of LGBT, uplifting immigrant rights, uplifting ladies’s rights, and so that’s the discussion board. It’s their area, and we need to welcome and embrace everybody who needs to see a extra inclusive United States and higher authorities. I might simply say that we’re inviting everybody as a result of we consider that everyone’s voice must be heard and that everyone ought to march collectively.

GONZALEZ: Additionally, there’s all the time going to be criticism. As Ada would say, there’s the alternative for individuals to do the work. It takes loads of work to place on this march as properly. There’s gonna be people who find themselves criticizing and never collaborating, however undoubtedly the doorways are open to everybody to take part. And that’s what’s so thrilling about this, that individuals are popping out and collaborating. There’s all the time going to be that insistence on negativity and hate, however I feel the response from Orange County with the Women’s March in the type of constructive affect is a lot higher. And that’s what makes this so thrilling.

With regard to the Women’s March Inc. and the way two of the organizers have been seen attending a rally from Louis Farrakhan, it stunned me simply to see that different Women’s Marches straight up canceled their occasions, in efforts to carry accountable Women’s March Inc. for presumably being intently tied to him. I do know you guys have stipulated that you simply’re unbiased and also you don’t obtain any funding from [Women’s March Inc.], however simply from the public consciousnesses, did it appear as if [that alleged link between the Women’s March Inc. and Farrakhan] harmed your trigger as nicely?

BEUTHIN: I truly assume the discussions that ensued as soon as this nationwide difficulty befell strengthened our native march as a result of the feedback that have been made at a nationwide degree actually did increase a few of the questions that you simply requested in your final query about totally different communities which may not really feel like this march is for them. It created area for us to speak about—with a very broad, numerous group of men and women—how we needed to say that this march truly is for everyone and what it’s we stand for. We went by way of that course of all collectively; that’s how we ended up arising with a press release [shared on the OC Women’s March main Facebook page] and the way we ended up occupied with different issues that we have been gonna do to advertise inclusivity in a approach that perhaps wouldn’t have been spurred as a lot if we hadn’t had the alternative to have this dialog.

I feel that it was perhaps much more necessary due to the place we stay in Orange County, understanding the county’s previous. It was simply a few years in the past in Anaheim that there was a KKK rally. A few of these hate teams are recruiting individuals, and hate crimes happen on a really broad foundation. There are points right here that we have to handle. And so, for that purpose, it was much more necessary to everyone that we maintain the march and that we assert that we’re holding it in unity and that we stand towards bigotry and hate in all of its types, whether or not it’s focused at the LGBTQ group or the Jewish group or the immigrant group or any group. We’re actually pleased with that. I feel everyone who went by way of that course of is absolutely pleased with that, and I feel that solely made our march stronger.

Illustration and design by Michael Ziobrowski

All proper, so let’s pull it right down to the current and the future to get to the place your head area is at for the upcoming march and rally. It appears as when you guys are excited and you’ve got quite a bit going on and rather a lot deliberate, and there’s quite a bit to rejoice, together with the undeniable fact that Democrats gained massive at the current midterm elections. I used to be simply questioning what kind of programming we will anticipate for the Jan. 19 rally?

BRICEÑO: Considered one of the issues we need to focus on, as Jennifer stated, is having the most colourful march that we’ve got seen in Orange County. Our focus goes to be on the march. It’s going to be colourful—actually colourful, proper? And numerous. However we’re much less a few program; we’re extra about what occurs in the march. We’re going to have only a few audio system, and all the things goes to enter the march.

And what would you say to someone who’s by no means attended however plans to attend this yr?

BEUTHIN: Get excited. It’s going to be a lot enjoyable. Put on snug footwear, put on sunscreen, convey some pals, ensure you have your signal—and simply get pumped up and able to really feel empowered.

For extra info on the Jan. 19 OC Women’s March, go to www.ocwomensmarch.org.

Aimee Murillo

Aimee Murillo is calendar editor and often covers the Orange County DIY music scene, movie, arts, Latino tradition and at present pens the long-running column Trendzilla. Born, raised, and based mostly in Santa Ana, she loves dangerous films, punk exhibits, elevating her crops, consuming tacos, Selena, and puns.