On Saturday January 21, we woke up and painted our battle cries on cardboard boxes. Our sisters beat us to Target, and they were out of poster board. We put on our riot gear, sweatshirts and pins bought to benefit Planned Parenthood. The men who couldn't march with us greeted us in the morning with hot coffee and a ride into the city, since the metro lines were overflowing the streets. We stopped at a diner for breakfast, squatted at an empty table before the rush hit the door. We asked two women who were waiting if they wanted to join us. We could squeeze, and we all had somewhere important to be. Introductions, compliments on signs and outfits, mimosas and Irish coffees. Almost an hour of intelligent, warm conversation later, and three of the six of us had tried to slip the waiter our card to pay for breakfast. Our new friend beat us to it, within the first five minutes of ordering. We asked someone to take a picture for us, so we could remember the beautiful start to what would become an incredible day.
We start walking in what we hope is the right direction. We're in a sea of pink pussy hats, feminist t-shirts, signs proclaiming the revolution pinned to strollers and backpacks. We find our way into the crowd, admiring the signs and the faces. We hear a rumor that there's too many people to march, so they've turned the event into a rally. That doesn't stop anyone. A man playing a bagpipe solo starts a battle cry as little girls dance around with balloons and we all start marching. We turn a corner and are met by people on stilts and a marching band. They lead us to the end of the march, we've hit the end of the crowd. We look around and see people jumping a railing, we follow and find ourselves headed for the stage as Angela Davis begins to speak. Followed by The Indigo Girls, Alicia Keys, Janelle Monae, Madonna and many more. They tell us that we've already surpassed our goal. We've got people lined up all the way to the Ellipse, so we'll march towards the Washington Monument then turn to the White House.
For hours and miles we walk next to women and men, old and young. Fathers carrying their daughters on their shoulders, carrying their sons on their shoulders while they march hand in hand with their daughters and wives. Men leading a chant, "Her Body, Her Choice", while we respond, "My Body, My Choice". Police officers letting people take pictures on their bikes, and taking phones to get aerial photos for people from he roofs of their cars. Women sharing water and snacks, moving calmly and respectfully to make way for ambulances. We even stacked our trash neatly next to full and overflowing bins. No one yelled at anyone, no one argued with anyone, everyone apologized profusely for accidentally grazing someone with their paper sign. My social anxiety usually keeps me from participating in large crowded events, but I have never felt so calm and safe in my life. In a crowd of hundreds of thousands of people.
I am an upper-middle class white woman with a college degree, a good job, good health insurance, and a lot of privilege. There's very little in my life that I have wanted and haven't gotten. I was able to travel to Washington DC and march with other women (and men) in a sign of solidarity. What my friends and I reminded each other of this weekend was that we could all go home and live our lives for the next four years, with our heads down, and not a lot would change for us. But we promised not to do that. We did not march for that. I did not march to aid in my complacency. I marched to wake myself up. I marched to take the first step in a marathon of action. I am taking action for women. I am taking action for my LGBTQ friends. I am taking action for my immigrant friends. I am taking action for every single human being that needs an ally. I will not sit by idly while the leader of our country belittles and bullies us. If you have been fighting longer than I have, thank you. Thank you for fighting when I hadn't realized that this was my fight too. If you're joining the fight just now, I can't wait to dismantle the patriarchy with you. If you haven't joined the fight yet, or don't think that this is your fight, I hope you'll join us. This is a human fight. We all have something at stake or know someone with something at stake. If we continue to live as though people that are different from us don't deserve the same rights and respect, then we all lose. Join the fight, we all have work to do.