Women's March on NYC
Unless you've been avoiding the news and all the parts of the internet and social media where I spend my time (and if so I'm not sure how you got here, but, welcome), or the metropolitan centers of cities across the globe, you know that Saturday was one of the largest globally coordinated marches ever. It was also the largest inaugural protest in our nation's history. Record numbers turned out to march surpassing organizers' estimates.
I was one of those marchers. Toting a camera instead of a sign I was there to support a cause that I am passionate about: women's equality and many of the other intersectional feminist platforms of immigration, social justice, civil rights, and equal pay. I was also there to call for and end to the racist and misogynistic rhetoric that plagued the campaign and the media's ongoing discussions of America's most challenging issues.
Marching with hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers for women's equality was one of the most moving political experiences I have ever had. People were polite to and encouraging, they were kind to and respectful of the police and vice versa. We were all so amazed at the turnout. 250,000 people in NYC alone showed up to reaffirm their commitment to the issues and the country's future to one another, the administration, and the world. It was also an opportunity to stand by their fellow citizens. My issues may not be the same as my neighbor's, but we are both Americans and deserve recognition as such. One of the many signs quoting Audre Lorde said it best:
"I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different than my own."
To say it was overwhelming and emotional would be an epic understatement.
During the election, it felt like the political war over the nation's soul boiled down to a singular question: What is an American? Who are they, what do they look like, what do they believe in? And by pitting one side against the other they worked to divide us by playing on our fears to win votes. On Saturday I got a better answer to that question in the throngs of people proclaiming their legitimacy and their love for this country.
Walking along in that sea of humanity was one of those moments that makes you recognize the vibrancy in the diversity that makes America special. People of every color and every creed turned up to stand and be heard. I felt simultaneously so small and insignificant, and yet so connected and valuable to everyone around me. There were young women, old women, girls. Older women who marched in the 60's and 70's and developed feminism's second wave were there because they feared the erosion of everything they had fought for. They were there to keep fighting and to encourage my generation to step up and take up their mantle. There were young women who grew up hearing we could be whatever we wanted, but also raised to be pretty and perfect rather than brave. We learned how to be brave later when we entered a workforce rife with sexism and insidiously veiled sexual harassment. Little girls marched, with their choruses of "We're small but we're loud." Little girls who are already learning to assert themselves because their strength doesn't need to be silent or disguised to protect others' delicate sensibilities.
There were pregnant women, parents with babies. There were fathers with young daughters and sons; carrying them on their shoulders so that they could see all the people taking a stand around the issues that will shape their lives. There were diverse interracial families. There were parents telling their children about marching when they were younger, when they were pregnant. There were parents teaching their children the importance of active citizenship. Parents were teaching their children about the patriotism of dissent as a tool to strengthen the nation.
And throughout the entire event, we knew that we weren't alone. Not because of the size of the crowd we were all standing in, but because we were a satellite march. We all imagined how it must have felt to be in Washington DC at this historic moment. Then all the images started flooding in from everywhere else. 673 sister marches with an estimated 4.8 million marchers from around the country and the rest of the world. Click here for a full list of the domestic marches and links to details about each of those events.
But this is only the beginning. It has to be or what was the point? The real work starts now. We need to be active participants in our political system. We need to advocate for our rights with our elected officials at every level of government and hold those officials accountable. We need to write and build and create the art and infrastructure that can support the world we want to live in. Wining hearts and minds can be just as important as legal protection. It can be more challenging to accomplish because we have to come together to be successful. Apathy and ignorance got us here, only passion, action, and education are going to get us through.
The following are some of my favorite images from the day. I hope you enjoy.