The Rising—Scenes from the Roe vs. Wade Protest in NYC

My friend, Ashley, in NYC. Photo by Christa Avampato.

Yesterday we witnessed a horrific historic moment in the U.S. A majority of the SCOTUS decided guns and zygotes have more rights than women.

We lose 68,000 women every year to abortions that have been forced underground for those who have no access to safe clinics and hospitals.

My friend, Ashley, dressed as a handmaid for the protests at Washington Square Park and Union Square here in New York City. People were amused. They shouldn’t be. This is not a joke. This is not a drill.

Thousands of people flooded New York City’s streets to demand justice for women. My friend Kelly and I were both proud and devastated to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our neighbors.

We are now at the point of revolution. We must be. This attack on women cannot stand. Not now. Not ever. We will be as relentless as those who mean to send us back into the shadows.

This is not the end. This is The Rising.

Scenes from the New York City protests on June 24, 2022. All photos taken by Christa Avampato.


A Year of Yes: Marching

“We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.” ~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today I march for people who cannot march for themselves, for people who have been marginalized, silenced, and cast aside as less than. I have been lucky in life that I was afforded opportunities to rise above my challenges and hardships, financial and otherwise. Yes, I worked hard, and yes, there were many people who helped me in countless ways. I didn’t get where I am alone. I march to pay forward my good fortune. I understand at a deep and relentless level that injustice against any single person is injustice for our society as a whole, and we shouldn’t rest until everyone has not just equality, but equity.


In the pause: Some words for the good guys

This morning, I have some words about men. I have long-held Charlie Rose as one of my inspirations in journalism. My eyes teared up hearing the accusations yesterday, and I’m so upset for the women whose lives and careers were harmed by his actions.

I know a lot of my female friends are losing heart that there are no good men out there in any field. While I’m outraged by how pervasive this issue is among men I never thought would behave this way, I also want to say that I’m not losing faith in an entire gender. There are a lot of fantastic men in my life who are dear friends. They care deeply about people and the world at large. They work hard and they’re kind, funny, and supportive. I just want to make sure that as a society we are looking at people as individuals and not painting with a broad brush, especially with an issue as important as this one.

Good guys, I know that you have often felt like you will never win. I never believed that. Good guys, in the end, will always win. And to my female friends, I hear you, I see you, and I support you. We are in this together, and my hope is that this painful upheaval now will lead to a more just and fair world for everyone.

I love you. Have a good Tuesday.


In the pause: Day of the Girl and Emerson Page, a justice fighter

unnamedMy book, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters, will be released three weeks from today. It’s the story of a young girl who is searching for answers to life’s greatest questions; a young girl who empowers herself and others to fight for justice. On this Day of the Girl, I hope that my book shines a light on the actions of young people and their incredible potential to make this world a better place.


In the pause: 26,034 steps for women everywhere – the Women’s March in Washington, D.C.

I walked 26,034 steps at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. yesterday. Now multiply that by the minimum estimate of 500,000 people who attended the march. That gets us to 13,017,000,000 steps by D.C. marchers, which equates to circling the entire globe 198 times. And that’s just in D.C. Now amplify that by the 4 million people in 600+ cities all over the world who were marching with us and we get 104,136,000,000. That’s 1,584 times around the Earth. We literally wrapped the world in freedom, justice, and equality. This march was not about putting America first. This march was about putting people, all people, first. We lifted our voices and moved our feet without a single moment of violence or insecurity, and with hardly any security. This was a peaceful, uplifting, and hopeful day in all of these cities and towns in which we showed the whole world what democracy looks like. This is what concerned, committed individuals can do when we band together with love, respect, and courage.

And somewhere in that crowd are all of the future leaders of our countries, of our future. Somewhere in that crowd is the first woman who will be President of the United States. The first Latina and Latino Presidents. The second black President. The first LGBTQ President. The first Jewish and Muslim Presidents. The people who will lead our country through nonprofit organizations and as leaders in for-profit companies.

My friends, that crowd that you are all a part of is the future. That is where we are and where we’re going. Don’t lose heart. Don’t be silent. Don’t shut down or become numb. Don’t turn away or run away from the difficult days and nights ahead. Every day, I want to wake up in a world that looks like yesterday. That joy and passion will drive out the hate that may have won the electoral college but did not win the hearts of the majority of this nation.

We are the majority. And on the long and winding road of history, the majority eventually always wins. Always. We may go through horrendous times. We may have to descend into deep valleys to make the climb toward the highest peaks, but let it be known by everyone everywhere that no single person will ever stand in our way on the path of progress.


In the pause: January 21, 2017, will be remembered as the day we gave an additional meaning to boots on the ground

January 21, 2017, will be remembered as the day we gave an additional meaning to boots on the ground. This is the day that people, women and men, all races, all creeds, from all over the world came together, organized, and marched for equity, justice, freedom, and health. This is the day we took to the streets together for women’s rights, which are after all human rights, and vowed to one another that we will not stop until these rights are secured for all and forever. That is the goal I am dedicated to and I will use every breath and step I have remaining to turn it from a dream into a reality.


In the pause: The kind of women the world needs now

“Please hear me, Girl. The world has enough women who know how to do their hair. It needs women who know how to do hard and holy things. The world has enough women who live a masked insecurity. It needs more women who live a brave vulnerability.” ~Ann Voskamp, author

I’m marching on Saturday to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with women all over the world, and the noble men who know that women’s rights are human rights, to send one loud and persistent message: we will not be ignored. We have earned our seat at every table, over and over and over again. We will not be reduced, diminished, or belittled. We will not allow ourselves to be objects. We do not have a price. We will be recognized for our hearts, our minds, and our spirits. We will be seen and heard and we will not back down regardless of the criticism we may face or the source of that criticism. We will give our time, attention, energy, and love to those who are deserving of it. Don’t get it twisted: January 21st is a commencement, not a culmination.


In the pause: What you need to know during a protest, demonstration, or march

I know many of us will be participating in marches and protests this week and in the weeks, months, and perhaps years ahead. I’ll be at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. I haven’t participated in anything like this before so I did a lot of research to be prepared. I wanted to pass this on to you and your friends and loved ones who may also be protesting so that we can be both safe and informed. Please feel free to share and repost. It is a lot of information but it is critical for you to have it. I’ve broken up the information into categories to make it easier for you to scan. Some of it I suggest you print out and bring with you as noted below. Though some of it applies directly to the D.C. Women’s March, much of it is applicable for any protest. (Here is a list of sister marches that are happening in every U.S. state and across 6 continents: A sincere and heartfelt thank you to all of you who are standing up and speaking out to protect the rights of all people. Now is the time for action and I appreciate, applaud, and honor each of you who are engaged in the process of social justice.

Meeting spots and pre-march info:
1.) I am gathering a people in the lobby of my D.C. apartment building between 9:00am and 9:15am on Saturday the 21st. At 9:15am, we’ll walk to the starting point of Independence Avenue and Third Street SW (a little over a mile from my apartment). If you’d like to join us, or have friends who would like to join us, please send me a message and I’ll send you my address and cell number. The event begins at 10am. The march is not just for women. Everyone is welcome to participate in the march and I’d love to have you join us. It’s always better to march with buddies.

2.) Please fill out this form to say you’re going to the march so that they have enough relief stations, food trucks, and medical services for everyone.

What to bring (and not bring) with you:
3.) Bring your charged phone, identification, a little cash, and a credit or bank card so that you can buy water and food as needed. It’s a long event and you need to stay hydrated and satiated. I’m also bringing a small water bottle as well as a small stash of medical supplies like bandaids, asprin, Neosporin, etc. Don’t count on being able to have any cell signal. Because of the projected size of the crowd, it is very likely that reception will be spotty at best during the march. D.C. has spotty cell reception to begin with. I plan to turn off my location and have the phone in airplane mode for safety reasons.

 4.) The organizers have worked very hard to make this a peaceful event so let’s do our part to support peaceful, nonviolent action. If you run into any legal issues during the march, there is a legal hotline: 202.670.6866. Write down important phone numbers on your arm such as the National Lawyers Guild hotline (212-679-5100) and friends or family members who can help you in an arrest or emergency situation. Again, I hope we don’t need this information though it is good to be prepared.

5.) No bag or a very small cross-body bag is the best bet for the march. Do not bring a large purse, backpack, or luggage of any kind. And of course, no weapons.

6.) Dress for the weather and weather very comfortable clothes. Right now, the weather is forecast to be 60 degrees and partly sunny, but make sure to check closer to the date so you dress appropriately.

7.) Signs are encouraged though please make sure they do not have sticks attached to them.

8.) Protests and marches are serious business. There is a time and place for being fun and silly; a protest is not that time and place. If you plan to take photos or video during the march, please be mindful of your surroundings and do not let your actions disrupt any of the activities. Let’s be present and mindful in the moment right where we are. If you post to social media, the hashtags for the march are #womensmarch #WhyIMarch #IMarchFor. Posting your support before and after the march is also an awesome way to get the word out and support and encourage others. The handle for the Women’s March is @womensmarch.

(About photography and videography during a protest from the ACLU): When you are lawfully present in any public space, you have the right to photograph anything that is in plain view. That includes pictures of federal buildings, transportation facilities, and the police. When you are on private property, the property owner may set rules about the taking of photographs or video. Police officers may not confiscate or demand to view your digital photographs or video without a warrant, nor may they not delete your photographs or video under any circumstances. However, they may legitimately order citizens to cease activities that are truly interfering with legitimate law enforcement operations.

9.) There are places near the march route that have opened their doors and hearts to us throughout the day. These can be used as meeting spaces and rest stops. Have this printed in case you can’t get any cell signal: (list) (map)

10.) The ACLU has a double-sided demonstration guide with useful phone numbers and tips. I hope none of us need this but it is good to be prepared. Have this printed in case you can’t get any cell signal.

11.) Please get enough rest the night before the march, eat well the morning of, and do not drink alcohol before or during the march. It’s not safe for you or for anyone else.

12.) This is a peaceful, non-violent protest. Please be mindful of your words, actions, and reactions.

13.) There will be medical stations set up along the march route and there will be march volunteers and trained marshals to help you with anything you need. You will be ale to easily identify them. There will also be private security guards as well as police officers who will be able to help you in case of an emergency.

14.) Do not fight with other protesters in regards to their protest tactics, and know that there may be counter-protesters along the route. Do not engage with counter-protesters; this is not the time for letting emotions and tempers fly or for making smart remarks and retorts. Things can escalate very quickly in this type of circumstance and your actions could derail the meaning of the march. If someone says something offensive, ignore them and walk away from them.

15.) Stay off of people’s private property so you don’t get arrested for trespassing. Don’t litter or deface anyone’s private property. Don’t throw things. Don’t incite or participate in violence in any way.

16.) If you are stopped by the police or arrested (from the ACLU):
Stay calm, be polite, and don’t run. Don’t argue, resist, or obstruct the police, even if you are innocent or you believe that the police are violating your rights. In some states, you must give your name if asked to identify yourself, but you do not have to provide an ID or other paperwork. Make sure to keep your hands where police can see them. Point out that you are not disrupting anyone else’s activity and that the First Amendment protects your actions. Ask if you are free to leave. If the officer says yes, calmly and silently walk away.

Do not resist arrest, even if you believe the arrest is unfair. If you are under arrest, you have a right to ask why. Otherwise, say you wish to remain silent and ask for a lawyer immediately. Don’t give any explanations or excuses. Don’t say anything, sign anything, or make any decisions without a lawyer. You have the right to make a local phone call, and if you’re calling your lawyer, police are not allowed to listen.

You never have to consent to a search of yourself or your belongings. Police may “pat down” your clothing if they suspect you have a weapon, and may search you after an arrest. You should not physically resist, but you have the right to refuse consent for any further search. If you do explicitly consent, it can affect you later in court.

Remember: the street is not the place to challenge police misconduct. Don’t physically resist officers or threaten to file a complaint. As soon as you can, write down everything you remember, including officers’ badge and patrol car numbers, which agency the officers were from, and any other details. Get contact information for witnesses. If you are injured, take photographs of your injuries (but seek medical attention first). Once you have this information, you can file a written complaint with the agency’s internal affairs division or civilian complaint board; in many cases, you can file a complaint anonymously if you wish. You can also seek the assistance of an attorney or the ACLU.

More information:
17.) Women’s March website – in D.C. and sister marches across the globe

18.) Washington Peace Center

19.) ACLU

20.) Know Your Rights


In the pause: As a white person, I have not done enough for my non-white neighbors

On this day of commemoration and service, I have a confession: as a white person, I have not done enough for my non-white neighbors. Yes I have volunteered, befriended, listened, learned, and dedicated large portions of my career to help people who look different from me. As I was reading and reflecting on Dr. King’s legacy in light of the recent comments by Congressman John Lewis, I realized I must do more.

I read the full Letter from a Birmingham Jail for the first time in many years and this quote had a powerful impact on me:

“First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;” who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season”. Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.” ~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

It is a letter that is sadly aligned with the situation in which we now find ourselves on the doorstep of the inauguration and the Women’s March. We can not afford to be moderates. Our only hope for justice for all people is to stay informed, speak up, rise up, and join together. We cannot be silent. We cannot sit on the sidelines. Now is the time for action, for the positive peace that Dr. King referenced so beautifully in his letter 54 years ago. And it cannot just be the oppressed who rise; it must be all of us from all walks of life, all races, creeds, and genders that stand together not waiting for a more convenient season but making today and every day our season to do what’s right. The days of lukewarm acceptance are no longer an option.


Wonder: The Jungle Book

“How many lives is a man-cub worth?” ~Shere Khan

After I saw it was nominated for a number of awards, I watched the live action version of The Jungle Book that was released this year. I can’t help but think about what a powerful allegory it is for our times. A community of wolves, loving and faithful to one another, protected a member of their pack, Mowgli, who was different. All they wanted was peace and acceptance for everyone. The member of their community who was different posed no threat to anyone, and yet a dictatorial tiger, Shere Khan, demanded that Mowgli be turned over to him to be destroyed. Mowgli left of his own volition for the sake of the pack, and still he was pursued by Shere Khan. On his way to the man-village where he will supposedly be protected and accepted, Mowgli makes friends who help him defeat Shere Khan.

Would we have the courage to protect someone who was different? Would we have the courage to standup for ourselves when faced with bigotry? When the moment comes to fight for what we believe in, would we back down in fear or would we rise and stand tall against injustice?

The Jungle Book is a story written for children, but its lessons have far-reaching implications for all of us. Literature is both a mirror and a teacher. It shows us what we’re made of. It gives us something to aspire to. It inspires us to become greater than we think we can be.