The Ride Into The Women’s March
I drove from New York City with my sister, picked up my boyfriend in Philadelphia, a friend in Baltimore and headed to Washington D.C. for the Women’s March, joining more than 5 million people worldwide in this historic event. A few things struck me during the march, that I hope people will consider as they continue marching and participating in conversations worldwide. Needless to say, they are things that participants seem to have forgotten in their efforts to join the conversation and finally show up.
These tips aren’t meant to take away from the beautiful reality of people finally showing up. They are meant to challenge and improve the way you or your friends approach the next action, march, or moment you have to engage in these real issues. Trust me, stuff is about to get even more real.
1. Trigger Warnings: There were none
The chants were loud, clear and there were plenty of them from crowds in D.C., but none of them seem to be written or lead by folks conscious enough to those around them. I cringed when I heard chants about Donald Trump and his tiny hands not being welcomed in the panties of women. I thought about how triggering that imagery might be to the 1 in 5 women who are sexually assaulted in their lifetime. I thought of the high concentration of those women who might be marching on Saturday and I hoped they were okay.
To a certain extent, I understand the need or the power to reclaim some of that trauma, and those experiences. But I thought it wasn’t necessarily the best way to create a safe and loving space for all participants there. In fact, I imagine it made many people feel uncomfortable and may have even silenced some of those people.
2. Chant as loud as you want Spanish Speakers
The chants continued as did some other issues. There was a group of women that passed by. They were chanting in spanish with the use of a megaphone and someone said something about it.
A participant in the march actually called out, “maybe we should just chant in English so more people can understand.” What? Are you kidding me? After reading that bilingual links have been taken of the White Houses government pages, this is disheartening to reflect upon.
At a march meant to unify and bring people together, I was heartbroken to hear someone say such a divisive thing. With the knowledge that a large population of Spanish-speaking or non-English speaking folks are oppressed daily in this country, that someone might ask for accommodation for marchers to speak in English.
My hope would be for all women, voices, and languages to be accepted at an event such as this in the future. If free speech and our first amendment can be denied or restricted to some, then there is an injustice being done in this country. Let’s not replicate this at the marches, actions or future gatherings folks!
3. Free Melania Signs: Why is domestic violence being joked about?
Unfair prison sentences are often met by protests and rallies with signs that accompany the action, many times these signs read “Free [Insert name of imprisoned persons here]!” At a march that was meant to empower oppressed or silenced voices, I find it terribly sour to make light of a real issue like domestic violence. Domestic violence is an issue that may have prevented many women from having the right, or freedom to attend the march at all.
Melania Trump is married to a man that many were protesting both for his vulgarities and looming policy decisions. This does not mean we make light of, or make a joke out of her own agency as a human being. Particularly if there is any truth to her lack of autonomy in her relationship, or the decisions she makes. Everyone DO BETTER!
4. 94% of Black Women Knew Better: What about the white women in the room?
I am black. I am a woman. I live on Staten Island—a part of NYC that a Jesuit Priest recently told me has voted red since President Lincoln. But in the low-income areas of Staten Island where the majority of black human beings live—that same borough of Manhattan was blue. Black women knew better than to vote for Donald Trump. There was a black woman at the march who stood with a large sign citing this fact.
I approached this woman and thanked her for standing there amidst a sea of (what seemed to me) predominately white women. A white woman and her family also approached and audibly asked, “Wow, why is that?” She was responding to the fact that 53% of white women voted Trump. I replied, “probably because they don’t agree that they should have the right to make choices for their own bodies, oh, and probably hegemony.”
We made direct eye contact. She did not reply, turned and marched onward. Now, many people know that I mumble sometimes. Maybe the crowd was roaring loudly and she did not hear my response. Or maybe I sobered her up a bit and she realized she wasn’t ready to have this conversation.
This is an issue. You can’t be down to march, but not down to talk about the issues. If 53% of white women prefer white men who run our country to decide what they do with their bodies, there is something inherently wrong with how our young men and women are being raised. Look, I call my mom way more than I should at age 24 for help with personal decisions, but that doesn’t mean that the majority of women need someone else to decide for them. They need to be empowered to make their own choices and decisions. And no, you can’t be afraid to talk about this stuff anymore. Some people don’t have a choice when it comes to talking about these issues. You can’t decide you don’t want to.
If you have more tips that we can build upon as a community, please comment or share via email to firstname.lastname@example.org