Yesterday I had the honor & privilege of participating in the Women’s March on Washington. It was an incredibly inspiring, uplifting and empowering experience. I got to march with an old friend from elementary school, her husband, and several other people. I talked to people from all over the USA, laughed at the clever, creative signs, got misty eyed at others.
One of the things I saw that really moved me might surprise some folks. Along the march route, we came across a group of counter protesters. They had a large cross that had Repent and Be Saved painted on it, as well as some other signs with a Christian focus. This group was in a protective circle made of march volunteers who held hands and Caution tape to encircle them. A police officer was with them as well. To me, this represented one of many things I was marching for: freedom of speech for all, not just the people I agree with.
A few thoughts went through my mind during the pre-march rally and the march itself:
- How many march attendees voted in the 2016 presidential election, provided they were eligible to vote? I’d like to think all of them did, but it’s possible they abstained from voting because they didn’t like either option and didn’t feel passionate enough about independent candidates to vote for them.
- I wasn’t a fan of the signs and chants that skewed more negative. Granted, many were very funny in their snark (the “we need a leader, not a creepy/freaky tweeter” chant was particularly amusing), but I’d rather focus on what can be done to support women, minorities, immigrants, refugees, Muslims, LGBTQ, and others who feel marginalized and disenfranchised than expend my energy throwing hate at Tr**p and his cabinet.
- When a chant of “Black Lives Matter” started up around me, I overheard someone behind me say “well, all lives matter.” I am still a bit annoyed with myself that I didn’t turn around and tell that person (who I believe was a 20-something white girl) “not today and definitely not here.” I didn’t want to get into an argument on a day that for me was full of positivity, especially not with a stranger. But I sincerely hope she gets woke by her peers very, very soon.
- I saw a sign that said “Hug a Journalist” and that made me very happy. I know many current and former journalists and you could say I’m one, too (though I tend to use the term “writer” to describe myself as I do so many different types of writing). A few times I yelled “God bless the journalists,” especially when I saw someone with a press pass. Someone in my group (I’d never met her before the march) said “except Fox News” and I bristled and said, “No, them too. They need the support, too.” We didn’t get into a discussion about it, but again, I believe in freedom of speech.
I’m hoping anyone and everyone who marched – and those who weren’t able to, for whatever reason – will channel the energy from the march into activism. This includes calling and writing their elected officials, donating time and/or money to humanitarian causes, even being kinder and more compassionate to all, which is as simple as holding open a door for someone or letting the person with only 2-3 items ahead of you in line at the store. The Indivisible Guide has some excellent tips on how to advocate for political change.
Most of all, this little girl is etched in my brain. She was probably 3 or 4 years old and she didn’t say a word as she stood holding her sign, letting people take pictures of her. May she grow up in a world where she knows her immeasurable worth and value, where she can protect and support those who live in fear of persecution, where she can love who she wants, call herself by any name she chooses, be treated the same as her male peers, and speak her truth without being shut down.