I said I wouldn’t march. In fact, I promised myself I had gotten all the marching out of my system. The day after the election, I protested Donald Trump’s presidency — protests that turned to riots. I therefore came to the conclusion in November that protesting Trump was not the solution. Yet at 6:00 o’clock on Saturday morning, I found myself on the floor of an LA hotel room, scrambling to make a poster that read: “My body. My choice. My country. My voice.”
I had initially considered marching. As a self-identifying feminist, I understood the importance of fighting for women’s rights. As a young woman of color, I understood the importance of amending systems rife with racism. As a climate-enthusiast, I understood the importance of expedient climate-action. But as a patriot, I understood that this march, this protest of the process of democracy, this opposition to the incoming administration, would only divide us further.
I was also worried about the voices that wouldn’t be heard: those who lived in cities without marches; those without the means to take a day off from work or who couldn’t afford to fly to Washington and rent an overpriced Airbnb; those who were physically unable to participate. I was worried that this feminist movement, like so many others, would exclude diverse voices — whether that be color, sexuality, socio-economic status, or family structure.
But as I heard more about measures of inclusivity like the Disability March, a Million Women’s Voices platform, and the guiding principles of the Women’s March, I became convinced that the organizers of this march were trying to do right by all of us. At the last minute, I consulted my Women’s Studies teacher and longtime feminist role-model about the turmoil I was experiencing. She reiterated to me the consistent imperative of thinking intersectionally, or that all things are connected: our beliefs, our government, our values, and public policy all shape our lives. She reminded me of the importance of unity in community, of standing with our feminist sisters and brothers. Moreover, she reiterated that showing up for our beliefs together, rather than apart, will make us stronger.
I am glad that I showed up for what I believe in. I showed up because I have witnessed Donald Trump call women fat, ugly, pigs, dogs, losers, slobs, disgusting animals, and pieces of ass. I have seen him poke fun at menstruation and support lawmakers who want to take away our rights to our bodies. I showed up because Scott Pruitt is the nominee for the EPA, and I do not share his vision for our planet’s future: one that is rife with pollution, degradation, and disaster. I showed up because my brothers and sisters of all colors are subject to the systemic racism of our nation’s criminal justice system; for families and communities of color in Ferguson, Charleston, Staten Island, and around the nation.
Alongside 2.9 million women and allies nationwide, I took to the streets of LA to fight for what I believe in. I was surrounded by young people and people young at heart who all believe in the same principles of love, unity, and inclusivity as I do; who exhibited unfailing positivity and optimism; and who really want to be a force for change. Unlike the fear, disappointment, and negativity of November 9th, January 21st showed me that positive change is possible.
But we also can't let Saturday be a token of cheap altruism. We must keep the momentum of our movement going, must keep the energy for change alive. So when the shit hits the fan and policies that threaten our bodies, our brothers and sisters, and our planet are promoted we can rise up. Donate to the causes you believe in with your money, time, or heart. Educate yourself on why this matters, now. And then maybe we can show Donald Trump that this was not a staged protest, that we are not just bitter about the election, but that we are not going anywhere.
The views expressed in this commentary are those of the author alone and do not represent WMC or WMC Fbomb. WMC is a 501(c)(3) organization and does not endorse candidates.
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