The day after election, in the midst of my tears, I saw a Facebook event called "The Women's March on Washington." I thought about buying a plane ticket, but chickened out. Still, for months I couldn't stop thinking about it. The event became more and more real, with incredible co-chairs bringing it to life. I started scanning the Georgia Chapter's Facebook page for seats on one of the 20 busses going up for it. Last Tuesday, a spot opened up on a bus leaving from Decatur, less than 5 minutes from my house. So on Friday night, donned in the pussyhat a friend made me, I boarded a bus with 50 other feminists and headed up to DC.
It inevitably took longer than expected and we hit crazy traffic going into the city. They ended up letting us off in the middle of a bridge over the Potomac. I was the first one off and ran toward the rally, getting there just in time to hear Gloria Steinem speak.
I was able to meet up with two of my good friends from college, Ben and Jenny Goebel, which was a minor miracle. Cell service got jammed from too many people and it was people as far as the eye could see. The speeches were incredible (plus a free Alicia Keys concert), but it was mostly just breathtaking to see grandmothers, young girls, brothers, husbands, children, grandfathers, and people of every shade and creed coming together. There was joy all around. A resilient, gritty kind of joy. It finally came time to march, but it turned out there were so many people that the entire march path was already full of people (they think between 1-1.3 million people were there). Slowly, slowly, we all made our way onto the grass of the Capitol Mall and it was just amazing chaos. There were people marching in every street downtown and we followed the masses in one direction after another.
It was one of the most powerful experiences of my life, and certainly one of the most important things I've ever gotten to be a part of. Everyone sacrificed something that day- many spent time and money to get there, others volunteered countless hours, and everyone took time out of their schedule to stand in solidarity with people they do not know or even agree with. Certainly 1.3 million people do not all agree on everything, and there were speeches and displays yesterday that I did not agree with. A woman described herself as "abortion-positive" which is something you will never hear me say (although I will write more about the issue another day.)
The point of the march wasn't that we all agree on the problems or solutions facing this country. The point was to unify us in our common humanity with one another. It was a rally to celebrate women- in all our forms.
The crowds continued throughout downtown, going by Treasury and the White House. Over and over, the we chanted "this is what democracy looks like." And it's true. It's what was on display when I cast my vote for Hillary in November, it's what happened on Friday the 20th, and it is certainly what happened yesterday. Someone made a gigantic Constitution and people were signing it throughout the march. It was incredibly powerful to sign my name and say, I am We the People. That means me.
After the march, I walked through DC, slowly making my way across town to where the busses were parked. I stopped to eat my dinner underneath a tree, looking up at the Capitol Building. I've never been very patriotic, but after a day of cheering on my fellow women, looking up at the awe inspiring sight, all I could think was, "look at the greatness we can achieve." America has done incredible, beautiful things. It is great because of the great people that live in it, that love their neighbors and that have infinite imaginations.
And yet, I look at that building and I remember it was built by slaves. It is literally built on the backs of people who had no choice in the matter, and it was built on land stolen from people whose sacred lands we live on now. This is the American paradox- our greatest achievements and our greatest sins are all tied up together. We cannot rejoice in one while forgetting the other.
The fact that there were no arrests yesterday wasn't just because women-led events are safer, it's because the police don't view large groups of white women as a threat. Just look at footage from protests in Ferguson and Charlotte- majority African American protests don't get the same treatment. We came late to the resistance, and most of us only came when it started to actually affect us. 53% of us voted for a sexual assailant for President of the United States. I'm ashamed and angry of that fact, but there's nothing I can do to change it.
Yesterday was an incredible day of sisterhood joy. I'm so proud of what I got to be a part of and energized to do more tomorrow. I'm also reminded that if it's not intersectional, it's just a pep rally. So let's get in this together: black and white, native and settler, trans and cis, able bodied and disabled.
White women, let's be humble and open to critique and always be moving toward being more inclusive and more intersectional. I've been humbled more times than I can count over the last two years on this quest and it's hurt a lot. My ego is bruised and I wish I could turn back time and do things over again, but that's how learning works sometimes. We just have to do it the hard way. But we'll get there.
There are accessible entry points for this work. I pledge to call my elected officials every single week day of the first 100 days. Hold me accountable. I'll hold you to it if you want. But for now, start here-
Save the phone numbers of your elected representatives
Sign up for these 10 actions in the first 100 days set out by the Women's March
Take it to the next level and read the Resistance Manuel. Then act on it.
Take being an ally to the next level with the Safety Pin Box.
Yesterday we marched. Today we rest. Tomorrow we fight.