Olivia Neal

The profile of a young woman with short, dark hair standing in front of a microphone. She’s speaking into the mic and holding a piece of paper to her side, looking down at it and reading from it. Her other hand is held out to the side as she speaks. Behind her is a painting of a brick building and some fairy lights. She’s wearing a black sweater and loves what she’s doing.
 My name is Olivia Neal. I’m 19 years old and recently moved back home to North Carolina from New York City. I’m a queer female chronically ill college student who stands to be deeply hurt by the Trump presidency and, like many of my peers, fear for my health, safety, and well-being. The policies put forth in the next four years directly affect me and many of the people I care about, and make this country an unsafe environment for women, people of color, queer and trans folks, and anyone who has been marginalized in the past.
When I learned of the Women’s March on Washington, I knew that it would be a once in a lifetime opportunity to come together in solidarity with women from all over the country and take comfort in each other’s presence while attempting to recover from the damage Trump has done to our minds, bodies, and souls. I knew many people who were driving to DC and who had offered a ride if I wanted to go. However, I live with a chronic illness that makes travel difficult for me. I experience chronic pain and discomfort that’s exacerbated by flight and long car rides. Additionally, by the time the inauguration came around I had just been out of the country for the week and it had destroyed any good will towards my body I had built up. As you can imagine, if traveling is difficult, leaving the country was a triathlon I wasn’t prepared for. I was left with no energy or ability and knew that if I tried to make it to the march I would be in pain and probably wouldn’t be able to walk. My boyfriend had to listen to me cry on the way home from spending time with friends who were planning on going, because I felt alone and left out from an event that was supposed to be healing. It was the latest in a long line of things I was unable to do because of my health. I wish I could stand up to Trump directly in his new home and show him how I feel about his presidency, the way I was able to during the election outside Trump Tower in New York, but I’m so glad for the opportunity to join in from afar.

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