WHY I MARCH just ONE story of MILLIONS ... this is ISUL's

i'm isul kim. This is my dog Daphne. pleasure to meet you. Welcome to my story.

INTRO: WHY I WRITE

by Isul Kim

What started as a pre-drafted social media “caption” ended up being this long wordy piece. Instagram is meant to be instant and in the moment, Facebook breeds impetuous behavior, and I couldn't possibly express myself in 140 words or less in a Tweet, in this specific case. The fact is, where my head, heart, body and soul are RIGHT NOW, on this day January 21, 2017 in Washington, D.C. aka the capital of the United States of America, is not a smattering of “instants” or whims or reactions or herd mentality or last minute middle fingers for the empty sake of valueless rebellion.

I'm not a public figure nor a social or political influencer, but just like anyone else, I have a story. At this particular date in time, our country is caught in the dangerous vortex of conflicting mass movements, in the multitudes of tens of millions. There's definitely something to a collective voice, but its only stronger and better if it remembers its roots in the world's billions of individual stories and walks of life. So, here is mine, adding more fuel to the collective fire...(and I hope to hear YOURS someday.)

This MARCH is a culmination and an evolution of my life, my history, and my present, which will inform and shape the context of my future as well as those of everyone around me whom I hold nearest and dearest.

THIS IS WHY I WRITE. THIS IS WHY I MARCH.

NORTH KOREA, some 60-70 years ago...

WHY I MARCH: ROOTS

This MARCH that I embark on today started with my maternal grandfather and grandmother, who escaped by foot in the 1940s from the then impending takeover by communist forces of what is now known as North Korea. With my barely 1-year-old mom on their backs, traveling by night on foot through treacherous forest and mountain terrain for safety, they marched stealthily and steadily to a possibly better (but not guaranteed) future in southern Korea.

My mom continued that MARCH by immigrating as a young 20-something Korean woman in the 1970s to the United States—a place that was, to her, merely a collection of exotic magazine photos and word-of-mouth mythology. Her parents risked their lives to travel to a place for a better future, so she herself took it a step further, to find an even better future for her unborn children. SHE was a brave harbinger. SHE, a foreigner and woman of her time, left her family, her culture, her language, her food, her identity that she had known up until that point in her life, left everything she knew and flew to New York City with a job placement gameplan that fell apart—no easy feat, to say the least.

Yet, SHE prevailed, became a celebrated neonatal ICU nurse at one of the top hospitals in the country. SHE saved sick pre-mature babies, children with congenital conditions. SHE held hands when new parents thought their children—the future of this world—would slip from their hands. SHE helped her parents and siblings and even husband (my awesome dad) make that immigrant march over to the US, where we all live, work, contribute to society and are responsible citizens.

my mother ~40 years ago

My family did the hard work, the dirty work because no job was too small or too low for them because they just wanted to work and be with our families and be healthy. We used to live in borderline poverty--low income life was no stranger to us. But we still worked hard and elevated ourselves, not only at no cost to anyone else, but with a strong sense of human decency.

THE SECOND YOU TRY TO HINDER THE LONG-RUNNING AND ONGOING MARCH PATH OF IMMIGRANTS OR ANYONE WHO IS "DIFFERENT" FROM YOU, IS THE SECOND YOU HAVE ISSUE WITH ME, MY FAMILY, AND ALL THAT WE BRING POSITIVELY TO THIS COUNTRY, OF WHICH I AM A PROUD NATIVE BORN CITIZEN.

I MARCH today to continue in the footsteps of my grandparents, my parents, whose marches in their own time allowed me a lifetime of opportunity, happiness and love.

THIS IS WHY I MARCH.

four generations of strong women in my family: my aunt, my mom, me, my grandma, and my niece...

WHY I MARCH: I AM

I normally don't like talking about myself, but this is where I tell you about the pieces that make up the ever-changing landscape of who I am. I'm not indulging in self-aggrandizement. I am speaking what I know to be true for ME. I am speaking my reality. I am speaking in the first person. I am proud of all these experiences, identifiers, credentials--good and bad. I am NOT speaking AT or AGAINST you...I am speaking WITH you, about me, so you can know my "WHY", and not just my surface.

(in no particular order...)

  • I am a woman.
  • I am a US born citizenfirst generation immigrant. Born and raised in New York City.
  • I am Korean-American but...NO, I do not have a slanted vagina. YES, I speak-uh dah Engrish-uh. YES, I have a sense of humor.
  • I went to an all girls’ school from grades K-12, called Brearley. It was an amazing and rigorous education among intelligent, inquisitive peers.
  • I am a Harvard graduate.
  • I worked 2 on-campus jobs in college to help pay my students loans, to pull my weight without handouts.
  • I received several grants from Harvard to pay my own way in order to do work for social impact in the U.S. and internationally during my college summers.
  • I am currently Chief of Staff at We Are Family Foundation (@wearefamilyfdtn)—we amplify the world’s most innovative and game-changing youth and are a growing global familyit’s not a job, it’s what I love, and that is priceless.
  • I love and care deeply for my two dogs, who were both rescued from horrible circumstances and yet have still learned to love us back, without restraint.
Here's a photo of my adorkable dogs as a quick break for you, from this crazy long list i've made...Ok, NOW Keep goin'!
  • I used to work for Chaka Khan, Facing History and Ourselves, Frederick’s of Hollywood, e-commerce services, The Center for Women and Enterprise, Peet’s Coffee (yes, as a barista), an international development fellowship program, many bars, and myself as a DIY musician/artist. Ask me to do anything, and I will...AND I will do it very well (or learn how to pretty quickly).
  • I work now with a badass fierce team of women, who inspire me daily with their work ethic, inspirational vision and unabashed ability to be themselves without apology—they are daughters, partners, lovers, mothers, sisters, my friends, and...my family.
  • I don’t have children who I gave birth to, but I am a mother to so many.
  • I have Type 1 Diabetes. I'm not overweight or obese. I'm not blind. I'm not an amputee. It's a very manageable disease. Do your research or ask me if you have questions.
  • I have been flat broke. I have had to pinch pennies. I have risen now to a place where I not only support myself but also live a fulfilling life without want for anything nor need for excess.
  • I have an Ivy League degree, and still choose to use my privileged education to help others.
And...Another pic of my dogs to break up the list a bit...Who doesn't love a puppy picture? (PS-you're almost done!)
  • I love my man and partner in love and life (who is here with me today at this march).
  • I love to cook, not because I’m a woman and the kitchen is my "place", but because I’m damn good at it and I LOVE it.
  • I am a LGBTQ friend and ally.
  • I have two dear friends who are Mexican-American women. One is an artist, single mom, former model, AND a special education teacher. The other is a business owner and rides a badass motorcycle. THEY are making a difference for others and through their actions and hard work, and never complain about it. Also, we never judge each other.
  • I have made a LOT of mistakes in my life—but I accept and admit to them all, and it’s made me continuously self-aware, better to other people, and incredibly tolerant of anyone and everyone as long as they don’t intentionally hurt or attack me.
  • I hold back nothing when I laugh—you will hear me from a mile away. No, seriously. LOL to the max!

I MARCH today because I am always personally marching forthward and forging ahead, as bravely + intelligently + boldly + compassionately as I can through my own firsthand experiences...to better myself, evolve and be a better human being for all and for this world's future.

THIS IS WHY I MARCH.

Because you made it through the list above...Here's Yet ANOTHER adorable photo of my two Dogs as a congratulatory gift!

WHY I MARCH: A FEW GOOD MEN

But, this isn’t only about the women and being the woman. There are some of the best men you can find in this world, who are a huge part of my life, who have helped me be and become who I am, and who will hopefully help me be continue to be my better self:

my brother and his daughter.

My Brother: Always the family caretaker. Insanely smart and mind-blowingly hard-working. One of the few men in the world who really just gets me--we have the same exact, almost telepathic sense of humor. He's raising two amazing girls who I have no doubt--with him as their father--will become strong, fierce forces of positive change!

My dad, being the best grandpa with my nieces.

My Father: I am him. I inherited pretty much all of his personality, which is the best thing that could ever happen to me. He is so good to his wife aka my rad mom and is the best dad anyone could ask for. He cherishes and respects women. He's friendly with everyone and can make the iciest of personalities melt and smile. He is superman. At a young 75 years old, he kicks my ass when it comes to energy levels and endurance and how long one can laugh for consecutive minutes (even hours).

My love AND I, in wanderlust (Granada, Spain)

MY LOVE AND PARTNER: He is one of my life's pillars. This human being not only loves, cares for and gets me…he is here with me at this march, because he understands the relevance of this all, and beyond. He gets the big picture. (He's also an insanely talented musician and can eat A LOT.) He's a good son, a good brother and an amazing parent to our two dogs. I don't NEED a man. And HE certainly doesn't NEED me. But, my life is unequivocally better with him in it. I can’t think of a better human to be side-by-side with at this march.

I MARCH because this isn't just about women and the second we pigeonhole our cause or identity to one gender or attribute, is the second we fail to march toward a common cause for all human beings. Man or woman, young or old, I love the ones I love and they love me back because that's the right thing to do and the only way we will make change happen.

THIS IS WHY I MARCH.

WHY I MARCH: TODAY...and BEYOND

This isn’t just today. It’s my history. It’s my present. And this march will always be my future, ever ongoing, ever evolving, And if you’re not with today’s march and what it stands for…that’s fine. But we’ve all experienced struggle, pain, happiness, sadness, relief, guilt, hate, confusion, and love…LOVE. Which means, if we all know these feelings and emotions…aren’t we all really just the same?

If the “good” change we are all hoping for happens, whatever the means--be it this march or other marches or other action and consequences, a president and her/his administration, or whatever you believe to be the right thing, then…

WE MAY SOMEDAY MARCH TOGETHER FOR AN EVEN HIGHER CAUSE WITH EVEN WIDER COMMONALITY. THEN, WE WON’T HAVE TO MARCH SO FIERCELY. WHEN THAT HAPPENS, IT WILL BECOME A SIMPLE STROLL OR A CONVERSATION OVER A CUP OF COFFEE. THERE'S A FEW THINGS THAT WE ALL NEED TO DO, FIRST:

  • CEASE OUR ARGUING
  • INCREASE OUR TIME TO THINK AND CONSIDER AND LISTEN
  • ASK FOR HELP FROM OTHERS INSTEAD OF LETTING THING SIMMER AND FESTER TO THE POINT OF ANGER
  • LOVE WHO WE WANT TO LOVE, RESPECT EVERYONE ELSE
  • DON'T WASTE ENERGY BEING SO ANGRY AT WHAT WE DON'T KNOW OR UNDERSTAND--BECAUSE IF YOU DON'T KNOW, DON'T ATTACK...ASK! INQUIRE. JUST LIKE I'M ASKING YOU, NOW THAT I'VE ANSWERED IT FOR MYSELF...WHY? YES, YOU. WHY?

(Wouldn’t that just be the biggest load off of our collective feet?)

And, I'D save my feet's energy so that I can take these guys on more hikes and adventures, JUST like we are here...WIN WIN, guys. WIN WIN.

THIS IS WHY I MARCH.

WHY DO YOU MARCH?

Signed with LOVE, Isul Kim

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Isul Kim
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Created with images by tpsdave - "washington monument sunset twilight"

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