I’m sure you’ve seen the hashtag #WhyIMarch circulating around social media. It’s a simple question, but one that really did make me think about my motivation to head down to D.C. last Saturday. And it was an immediate, almost knee-jerk reaction. Right when I saw the post about a march circulating around Facebook soon after the election results were final, I knew I was headed down to Washington.
I admit to growing quite cynical after being an activist and frequent marcher of many protests, including one in D.C. during my early college years. When I left New York to finish college in the Northwest, I sort of left that part of my life behind, along with a lot of other baggage. Not that I no longer cared about political or social issues, but I was refocused on my education and made new friends who didn’t make activism the focus of their lives.
Do I really believe that protest marches could actually affect change and policy? I really wasn’t so sure anymore how effective they were, and perhaps as I got older I fell into that mentality of “let the young people protest. I’ve done my share.” But this was big – bigger probably than anything I had ever protested for or against, and what I saw of the incoming administration and the cabinet picks were upsetting, so I knew I had to do something. I think that’s why many women (and men) decided to march. Because we felt compelled to do something but didn’t really know exactly what.
So I didn’t go to D.C. expecting change. It was more personal than that. I went to D.C. to feel something other than numbness, apprehension, sometimes fear, and a whole lot of concern. And I think I got what I came for – a sense of hope and solidarity. If you’ve ever been to protests or marches then you’ll know that there’s a collective energy and consciousness that is shared among a crowd that gathers for the same cause. The energy spreads and is infectious, and I had forgotten what that felt like. And because cell service was non-existent at the march, it did sort of feel like a throw back to my old protesting days when phones and social media didn’t exist. It was refreshing to be 100% present in the moment without our usual distractions, despite the fact that we didn’t have a choice.
I don’t think I need to rehash any more details of the Women’s March, nor do I necessarily want to get into my political opinions here. We’ve all read, seen, and listened to enough news footage and social media posts in the last week. What I did love was being surrounded by women of all ages – young, old, middle aged and every number in between. This isn’t a cause that’s better left to the young people to fight – it effects all of us. And given what we saw during the first week of the new administration, it’s gonna be a long fight. These really are extraordinary times.