I almost didn’t go. As I get older I find that I hate large crowds and this march promised to be big. My two teenage daughters had seen protests on tv and were afraid that something terrible might happen — and indeed, on the day of the Inauguration, terrible things did happen. But just as over 3 million people around the world ended up facing their own fears and insecurities, I faced mine and boarded a plane to DC.
On the second leg of my flight, I met a woman who was bringing her 7-year old daughter to the March. We talked about why we were marching, how we would be showing our girls how to stand up to power and corruption. We talked about our mix of excitement and trepidation. Once on the plane, I sat next to two dynamic women (one from Minnesota and the other from North Dakota) and the hours melted away under the heat of our discussions over this new world we are in. I would be staying with a friend on the outskirts of DC. She and her husband lovingly opened their home which would provide respite after what promised to be a long day.
We were up and on a chartered bus before dawn on Saturday morning. The trip into the City took about an hour which gave some women time to make signs, pass around water bottles, and hand out small heart pins that said “Kind” on them as a reminder of one of our mantras for the day. We would be kind. We would be inclusive. We would stand up to power by standing together. The energy was palpable. My fears were fading.
Once in the City, we took a quick picture of our group and received instructions on what time to meet back at the bus. Our experience was like countless busloads headed to the City. The people were going to march on Washington — some in groups, some bravely on their own. Here’s our group:
I was one among well over 500,000 men, women, and children who marched on Washington — and my head is still spinning with the day’s events. For me, this wasn’t just a march, it was a starting place. It was a marker that I put down to say “I’m ready for this fight.” Really — I’m not sure if I’m ready, but I have no other choice. The first five days of this administration have left me reeling. 2017 is starting to look an awful lot like Orwell’s 1984 and I’m terrified. More than that, though, I’m angry. And anger is a powerful motivator. Indeed, it is a catalyst for change.
I’m angry that while I’ve been politically active in my adult life, I haven’t done enough. I think about my friends — women of color — who have been fighting much more oppression than I have ever had to deal with and I am humbled to be joining them in this fight. I wonder where the police were on Saturday, when they were out in full force and in riot gear on Friday. One hundred arrests on Friday, during the inauguration, included four or more journalists, makes me fear we are heading towards a police state (if we are not there already). Yet, no arrests were made the day of the Women’s March. Not one. It’s almost as if the police backed off. Was it because we were mostly women? Was it because we were so big in number? Was it because we were mostly white, in spite of the fact that the March was planned and organized by women of color?
Activism is something you grow into, especially if you’ve been part of the privileged class, which I have been. While I’ve had to suffer the indignities of sexism in the workplace (another story for another day), I’ve never had to worry about the color of my skin — or what would happen to my children based on the color of theirs. I’ve always risen up to injustice, but watching the US become so visibly hostile during President Obama’s two terms alarmed me — and the election of Donald Trump jolted me awake. God help us. I may not always be sure what the next step is in fighting this now rampant oppression — but now, more than ever, I know there will be a next step.
Today, though, I’ll leave this post with pictures I took on Saturday. I’ll have more to say about the March and about this administration’s march towards fascism. Just not today. If you comment on this post, I ask that you be respectful and kind. I’m willing to engage in productive conversation, but not attacks. Know that I will only engage with the facts — not alternative facts (which, come on, aren’t a thing). I welcome your thoughts on the March and on where we go next. If you are women of color, you have my ear. I promise.
So many of the signs (and outfits!) I saw that day were so cleverly on target, I wish I’d thought of them, slogans that highlighted the moment we are in. In the end, I was there, marching. A lot of us were. I will be there tomorrow and the next day, too, because together, we rise.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to plan my “Action” Party for this weekend. We’ll be sending postcards to our representatives, letting them know what we need from them, what each of us believe is critical. I have to make a few phone calls today and maybe send out some emails. And I’m throwing a pair of good marching shoes into the car, just so I’m ready.