Still to this day you hear people saying, “I thought it was a joke that he was running.” But to me, it was never a joke. When you hear hateful rhetoric, it cannot be taken as a joke.
I remember the days leading up to the election feeling a mixture of dread and giddiness. On the one hand, we could be pushing women’s rights in this country further than ever by electing not only the first female president but one with a progressive campaign promise. On the other hand, we ended up with a man with no experience, spewing hate and making enemies with whomever he could.
When the news hit, when they sent everyone home from the Javits Center in the middle of the night, when he made is acceptance speech, I cried well into the night. I had friends who took the next day off. The unthinkable had happened, and not in the way we all wanted. And, while ‘we’ sounds like an oppressive term, remember, that he did not win the popular vote. Hell, forty percent of eligible voters did not show up.
Then came announcements of a Women’s March on Washington and it started growing, soon there were sister marches from Denver to New York being planned, and I knew that no matter where I was I would show up.
What I did not realize was that ‘we’ would show up. This was everyone’s march. This was our time to come together, as Americans, and show what ‘we’ believe in. As a woman, I expected it to be mostly women and a few bad ass guys. Yet, the New York sister march was almost 50/50. I went to the march with three of my guy friends, which in it of itself was powerful. There was so much energy in the streets. According to the Mayor’s office, over 400,000 people marched from 42nd and 2nd Ave to 55th and 5th Ave. For us, it took over five hours.
This march was for so much more than women’s rights. The official organizers announced a radically progressive agenda they were marching for, and the people came through with signs about everything from sexual assault justice to ending the Electoral College to climate change to simply promoting love and kindness. This march stood up for ‘we’ the people and our major and legitimate concerns about the next four years.
Some of the chants that resonated through the canyons of buildings were, “My Body, My Choice!” Followed by, “Her Body! Her choice!” Some other popular ones were, “We are the popular vote!” Our voices all blended together and filled up all the air. Every way you turned there was someone holding up a sign and “fighting for their rights”.
At the end of the march, I was filled with hope and energy and a renewed faith that this is who my country is. And at the same time there was desperation, that not only were we marching for women’s rights, but LBGTQ rights, for a right to fair education, the legitimacy of climate change and our acceptance of all immigrants to our nation of immigrants.
As I rode the train home that night, the numbers began to spill in. Almost 800,000 in Los Angeles, 200,000 in Denver and a march too large it turned into a rally in Washington DC, not to mention the cities globally that joined in. ‘We’ the people had come through and shown we will not back down.