On January 21st, 2017, my mother, friends, and I chanted “We want a leader, not a creepy tweeter!” loudly throughout the streets of Washington D.C.
Less than twenty-four hours after country musicians strummed their guitars for America’s new president, I marched with more than two million women, men, and children across the globe protesting Donald Trump and what he stands for. With the recent election and inauguration of Donald Trump as America’s 45th president, tensions have been high, to say the least. Each day has introduced new scandals and potential constitutional violations. From taking down the pages on climate change and LGBTQ rights on the White House website on his first day in office to waging a full fledged war on the media, Donald Trump has been a very controversial figure. However, this article is not meant to focus on Trump or his supporters, but on the Women’s March on Washington. While I went to the Women’s March primarily to protest Trump’s administration and the man himself, the Women’s March was used by many to advocate for women’s rights. The idea for the Women’s March originally sparked when a retired attorney from Hawaii, Teresa Shook, created a Facebook page for 40 of her friends, attempting to create a small march in protest of Trump’s election. Overnight, 10,000 people had RSVPed for the event, and that’s when the movement gained momentum. The march had its fair share of controversy, however. When it was originally conceived by Ms. Shook, she named it the Million Women’s March, which was a march organized for black women in 1997. This naming drew some backlash, and felt quite racially exclusive, so the march was handed over to female activists Linda Sarsour, Carmen Perez, and Tamika Mallory, and named the Women’s March on Washington. From there, the march became the monumental event that it became known as on January 21st.
Personally, I loved marching in Washington, and not just because I missed school. Every part of it the march was filled with energy and madness, in a good way, and all the negativity that I’d seen and felt from post-election anxiety was nowhere to be found. During the march, I saw a variety of ways in which people expressed their resistance. At one point a New Orleans funeral band made their way down the National Mall, with women in black clothes and makeup that resembled skeleton faces. As they swayed side to side they shook their tambourines and emitted a low-toned funeral song. It was quite an odd sight, and in some ways conveyed emotions that many non-Trump supporters have been feeling. Another musical, but more positive aspect of the march was a women’s marching band that paraded throughout the rally. For several hours on end they banged their drums and crashed their cymbals, and I for one was thrilled. I think what made the march so successful was the lack of pessimism surrounding it. If the march had been used as an opportunity to completely bash the Trump administration and riot, the government would have been able to use the women’s march as an excuse to silence a large majority of people. But by having a successful march without violence or looting, marchers were able to show the Trump administration that it is possible to gather together in large numbers and protest successfully.
I’m a girl, and while I’m not the largest activist, I come from a background where women are quite valued. This can be said for both my Indian background and my general upbringing. Most of the women I know are successful, talented and independent. Imagine then, having a president who’s said he’d date his daughter if they weren’t related. So when someone makes the argument, “what good can a march do if you can’t change who’s president?”, there’s a lot of ways one can answer. For starters, we can look at historical gatherings. The March on Washington in 1963 acted as a catalyst for civil rights and instated a positive, hopeful feeling in many African Americans that had not been previously felt. While The Women’s March in Washington may not have changed who the president is, it sent an incredibly strong message to Trump’s administration: “We will not stand by”. Since the Women’s March, every day has brought large protests against Trump’s numerous actions in office, and they don’t seem to be stopping. On February 16, a Day Without Immigrants took place to show Trump’s administration opposition against the immigration ban (while the ban was been stopped at the time, Trump did not give up on his campaign pledge). In the KIPP Austin Comunidad charter school network, only sixty percent of students attended school. On presidents day, February 20th, thousands of people rallied in protests called “Not My President’s Day” in opposition of Trump. Again, marches may not show change overnight, or shift the political winds, but they demonstrate the idea of resistance at full power. Even though it’s been a month since the President was sworn into office, hundreds of thousands of Americans and people across the globe have marched together to defy his administration. To quote Woodrow Wilson, America’s 28th president, “The history of liberty is a history of resistance”. So if you’re scared, or angry, or just plain annoyed with how America looks right now, a healthy prescription is marching. And if marching seems like too much work or if you’re not able to for any reason, then resist in other ways. Resistance can be whatever you want it to, from a pin on your jacket to standing up for a Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, etc. passenger on the train; but if you’d like to see a more positive course of history in the next four years, resist.