The day after inauguration I participated in the Women's March on Washington, Seattle (Womnx's March). I had mixed reactions when I first heard about the march – most good, some bad (more on that later) – but I knew that I wanted to participate.
Women's March on Washington, Seattle
The Women's March on Washington was the second march in which I've participated since the election, the first being the Seattle Women's March Against Hate (you can read about that march here and here).
Getting to the march was quite the ordeal. We live about 4 miles from the beginning of the march (and about half a mile from the end point) so we planned on taking an uber or lyft over … until we realized that it was going to be $140 to go 4 miles. We then tried to get on the bus (at two different bus stops) and all of the buses were completely packed (which was wonderful and horrible at the same time). In the end, we just ended up walking to the march.
Once we arrived, I immediately felt so much love and caring and empathy in the crowd. I was a little hesitant about showing up to the Seattle march for one main reason: at the last minute, Seattle organizers decided that they wanted to have a silent march. I am aware of the benefits of silent marches, but I, and some of my friends, believed that asking women, who have been silenced for too long, to be silent in their protest to be in bad form. Luckily, the march was far from silent. While we did not have frequent chants there was the occasional chant here and there (mostly Black Lives Matter) that could easily be heard across the crowds. We also periodically did a vocal wave, which was quite energizing.
Seattle was expected to have 50,000 people and 175,000 showed up. Seattle SHOWED UP.
Why I Didn't Want to March
As previously mentioned, I felt torn about the women's march. Why? 94%. If you know where I am going with this, bless you. If not, get ready. You probably did not come to this post for a lecture, but I'm already on my soapbox, so buckle in.
If your friend group is anything like mine, most were probably surprised with the outcome of the election. I am willing to guess, however, that the least surprised people in that group of friends were POC. And a lot of POC, especially WOC, decided not to march (which set the internet on fire).
For a lot of POC, the women's march stood for Feminism (big F Feminism), the Feminism that does not stand for equal rights, not the (intersectional) feminism that you've probably heard a lot about lately. It is my understanding (from the most recent and excellent episode of the Another Round podcast with guest Joy Ann Reid), that organizers heard this criticism early and worked to bring in more WOC to help organize the march. And I appreciate that. But it doesn't feel like enough.
I understand why people are afraid of the results of the election. I get it, I promise. But I also get that this is the first time that a lot of people, men and women, are feeling the fear that many minorities have felt for a very long time. It is scary and sad and heartbreaking to feel like a stranger in your own country. We know. We feel it. We have felt it.
I am so grateful for the Women's March, (because better late than never) but it honestly leaves me feeling sad and disappointed to see people showing up when it becomes personal. Allies show up, be it through marching, or making phone calls, or knocking on doors, regardless if it is personal or not. Allies show up. And some WOC, myself included, have not felt that support. As stated by Chi Nguyen, “when your feminism and liberation are not only rooted in but thrive in my oppression, you are not my sister and I do not stand with you.”
Why I Marched
I marched because allies show up. Because we, women, are not equal. Because I live in a “sanctuary city” and love my neighbors. Because Black Lives Matter. Because water is life. Because so few of us are native American / indigenous / First Nations and are therefore immigrants to this land. Because we need to show up for our LGBTQIA+ sisters and brothers. We need to show up for our Muslim brothers and sisters. We need to show up for those who are afraid or unable to show up themselves. For fellow survivors of sexual assault. For those who are disabled; for the freedom of the press. We need to show up so that we can take responsibility of inequality in our country. We need to show up.
Shishi Rose wrote a beautiful piece that more eloquently describes how I feel. The quote below is from her, and I hope that she is okay with me sharing it here: “Women of color and other marginalized people couldn't turn away from any of these issues because it affects everything we do. It's the same reason that 94% of Black women tried to save the world and voted for Hillary Clinton. We voted for her despite her calling our children Super Predators. We voted for her despite her supporting a bill that gets us and our family members thrown into jail at higher rates. We always try to save everyone but instead get left behind ourselves. We get walked on, we have glass ceilings shattered over our heads by white women constantly. They shatter glass ceilings and say that that is in the advancement of ALL women but the women of color are left to clean up all the shards of glass.” (After March, A Letter to White Women).
I am so grateful for those of you that showed up on January 21st. But we can't let it stop there. It is not enough for us to only show up when something affects us personally. It is not enough to add the Women's March to an activism checklist and be done. We do not deserve a clap on the back for showing up for our friends and family, sisters and brothers. It is our responsibility to show up. Let's make sure that the Women' March is our new starting point, the inauguration of new activists, and that we continue to show up in good times and in bad.
I promise to show up for you but I need your word that you're going to show up for me.
(hops off soapbox).