In fall of 2016 I began to hear about this Women’s March that was going to happen in January in Washington, D.C. Being that I live in Long Beach, California, I checked flights and immediately realized between flight fare, lodging and transportation, there was no way I could afford it. But the insanity of the election season had really turned me into a self-proclaimed activist, or I was at least trying to be one, and I so wished I could go. I went home to Cincinnati for Christmas that year, and because it was my 30th birthday the day after Christmas and I wanted to spend it with best friends and family. When I was visiting my family, my (favorite) liberal Aunt (we have donned each other Aunt Freak and Niece Freak) was speaking about how she would be at the march with my mom’s other sister and they were staying at her house because she lives in Maryland only 30 minutes from D.C. Shocked I didn’t know about this, I got even more jealous and upset! Had I known free lodging was available, it could have worked. So I looked again at flights, but being that it was now less than a month away, everything was over $1,000 and there was no way I could swing it.
Over the holidays, and through my self-teaching about activism and feminism, I picked up Gloria Steinem’s book, My Life on the Road. I’m not much of a reader - in fact I can barely get through the short articles that my boyfriend sends me without getting distracted. But I really love autobiographies, and this book was written almost in short stories, making it really engaging and easy for me to read on and off. I highly suggest it if you haven’t read it! I was reading this book in early January and got to a chapter which she talks about the Martin Luther King Jr. March on Washington. She spoke of how she debated whether to go, asked many people, and eventually decided after getting mostly negative feedback about how the event would pan out, that she wasn’t going to go. Then she said something like… “That is, until I found myself on my way there. All I can say years later is, if you feel compelled to be somewhere, against all logic, go.” That line hit me like a ton of bricks and put the book down and opened my computer. I searched flights at nearby airports to D.C., and found a very reasonable (around $400 - still not in my budget, but an amount I was willing to put on my credit card) flight in and out of Philly. I then texted my second cousin to ask about transportation options from Philly to D.C. and if I could crash in his living room for a night if I needed to, and he said yes. Then once he asked why I was coming, and I told him the women’s march, he decided he wanted to come as well and would drive us to D.C. and back! So I booked the flight, drove with him to D.C. where we met my two aunts and my little sister (who decided to make it there from a work trip in Virginia after hearing I was going). I spent the day there from about 7AM - 9PM with family and roughly a million other people, majority women, marching and standing up for equality, justice, and freedom. I’ll never be able to describe exactly how profound it was, and even if I could, I don’t think you’d ever understand unless you were there. At one point I almost peed my pants, My fingers and toes were freezing, we got stuck crammed and standing on the metro for a few hours due to the amount of people, but all of it was worth it to experience that day.
It’s hard to believe it’s already been almost a year since then. I will be attending the anniversary sister march in LA this year. It’s been a very difficult year for the world and the US since the election, and since the first march. In so many ways, it feels like our administration has taken us backwards since then, and that is so discouraging. But in so many ways, it also feels like this has forced us to move forward in other amazing ways. So many people, including myself are now TRULY politically active, aware (or “woke” as we’d say), and willing to listen and learn and do better to continue to fight for equality and justice and freedom for all. So many more people, more minorities, are running for office, and so many more are WINNING. It’s these progressions that I try to hold on to when I hear more negativity in the news.
It’s also been hard to know what to do or feel like I’m making any difference, especially as a liberal living in a liberal state. I have attended a few smaller local protests, such as for immigration. I’ve called and written my representatives often, but 99% of the time they are already making the decisions I want them to. For awhile I felt obligated to try to have tough conversations with people close to me that I disagree with, to try to change minds or at least find common ground. And it worked sometimes, and it feels good when it does. But a lot of the time that was also discouraging and even when it wasn’t, I didn’t feel like progress was tangibly made in any way. This was also very exhausting for me. I’m a highly emotional person, so trying to have neutral conversations is difficult for me. I’m an empath so I too often let emotions get involved, and take things personally, and it gets draining.
So I tried to think of other ways to make a difference and do some good in the world. And that’s where Burke came in. How could I start a business trying to sell material things to people when there’s so much more important shit going on in the world?! Starting this business has been a VERY long time dream of mine, but suddenly it felt like the wrong time to do it. So I thought about it a lot. And I decided that supporting small, independent brands and lines creating product in natural, ethical, and sustainable ways, and helping support their success, WAS a good thing. And that’s my main focus in brand & product selection, along with carrying brands who also believe in supporting greater causes. I also decided with this business to commit to giving back to causes that I believe in, that do good things for the world both locally, nationally or internationally. I hope not to push any views on anyone that may disagree with me. But I do hope that knowing part of a purchase is going to help someone or something else that improves our culture, environment and society, will make my customers feel good. It’s not easy committing money in this way as a brand new business, as it is extremely expensive to run a business, and especially to start one. But I knew it wouldn’t be right for me without that commitment. And I am really excited to see what I can accomplish in donating, and eventually getting involved in physically helping my community, through the sales and support of my followers and customers as this business grows. I will choose different organizations to donate to either monthly or quarterly. I hope if you support this, that you will also makes suggestions of organizations both big and small that you would love to see us donate to. I’d love to support many smaller, local ones that affect my community directly, and that have a smaller budget, than some of the amazing national ones I have already chosen. I want my customers to feel involved in this as much as I am! So far Burke was able to donate $46 to Everytown for Gun Safety, and $42 to the Tomas Fire Fund to support victims of the recent LA wildfires. It’s a small start, but it’s made me so happy to be able to do that.
Since this year’s Women’s March focus is “Power to the Polls”, I have chosen She Should Run as the organization I will donate a portion of all January sales to. From their website:
“Founded in 2011, She Should Run is a non-partisan 501(c)3 that provides an approachable starting place and network for women leaders considering a future run for office and for those who support them. Our mission is to expand the talent pool of women running for office in the United States by providing community, resources, and growth opportunities for aspiring political leaders. We believe that women of all political leanings, ethnicities, and backgrounds should have an equal opportunity to lead in elected office and that our democracy will benefit from the varied perspectives and experiences that women bring to leadership. We know that when women run for office they win at the same rates as men. Yet women are not encouraged and recruited at the same rate as men.”
Visit their website at sheshouldrun.org to find out more. I think this mission is amazing, and I am really excited to support this organization, and I hope you will help me!
Below, are a few of our favorite items inspired by the new feminist movement, intersectionality, unity, and equality. We would love to see as many of our customers as possible representing Burke goods at this year’s Women’s March and beyond! If you do, PLEASE send us photos or tag us so we can see and share them!! There’s also still time to enter our instagram giveaway of 4 amazing items from our shop that we hope one lucky person will be rocking at a Women’s March in two weeks! Check out the post on our instagram page @burkemercantile with this photo below and follow the simple steps to enter! Winner will be announced on Sunday night at 7pm PST! Happy Women’s March Month & Happy 2018!
Win these 4 items through our instagram contest!