I want to open this post with a conversation I had with a friend the day before the Women’s March on London. He asked me, “Trump is already President. What’s the point?”
I’ll be honest, I did not have an answer. I had never participated in any sort of March or Movement previously, so this was a question I’d been subliminally asking myself but never brought it up to awareness…until he did. It was a little discouraging. My intention to participate that had previously been at 80% was now brought down to around 60.
This internal dilemma notwithstanding, I awoke the next morning to a sunny London. I was feeling good, Emma was amped, and I had agreed to meet a couple of other friends there. Besides, not going felt much worse than going, so I layered up and hurried out.
I was instantly vindicated by the scene we were met with at Oxford Circus. Upon exiting the tube station, we encountered several people bearing signs and placards with a range of slogans, from the punny and witty, to the powerful and ferocious. I snapped a photo of a man holding up a sign that said “Misters for the Sisters,” next to a woman holding a cartoon ovary with a flexed bicep. 3,300 people Liked the photo on Facebook. The world was watching.
As we traversed further down looking for our friends in the heads and signs bobbing up and down Oxford Street, I felt no fear. I was very conscious of this feeling — I was expecting to feel the kind of detachment I sometimes experience in a new city surrounded by hundreds of people I don’t know. But I think what bridged this distance was our common purpose. The purpose was to reinstate the status quo. The purpose was to stand up and scream that we were with those who were discriminated against and hurt and treated poorly as by-products to this gruesome election season. The purpose was to remind London and the world that there are still people out there that believe in love and kindness and human decency — and that we would come out on a cold winter day to say exactly that, with signs and smiles and no consciousness of what time it was.
Particularly to the white men that were present at the March: you have no idea how much your presence and voice is needed in support of minorities. Never underestimate that.
To the parents that brought their toddlers in prams and baby carrying jackets and the like, I salute you. Your children will remember this and thank you for your commitment to a cause that has serious implications for current and future generations. I cannot imagine how stressful it must be to ensure the safety and well-being of your child in a crowd of 100,000 people – but it almost serves as a metaphor. You want them to be empowered to navigate a confusing world, and the powerful tool you give them is love. You should be so proud of yourselves.
One thing I want to note is that participating in this March reminded me of the immense responsibility I have for educating myself and others on important moral values, a salient one being privilege. I could not help but silently chastise myself for sauntering along with a hot cup of coffee on a cold day, stopping in a fancy hotel to go to the bathroom, and have a luxurious lunch afterwards feeling like I “deserved it.” I mean, there are people being oppressed physically and psychologically everyday because they do not have access to the fundamental rights that everyone was fighting for that day, and the fact that I was able to raise my voice but was not at the risk of any imminent loss if I didn’t is a scary prospect. What if everyone had the luxury to “sit this one out” just because it wasn’t directly affecting them? I will never, ever forget this quote that I saw at the Holocaust Museum in D.C. a few years ago:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.
– Martin Niemöller
If our fundamental human rights are in our hands, I reckon it is time we started taking them seriously. I am frequently reminded that I am a small, brown woman that may not have received the same opportunities as a tall, white man, but I frequently remind myself that my socioeconomic status, physical health, and general well-being privilege me over many others. And it is my duty to fight for the underprivileged.
It’s a week later now, and I am still overwhelmed by the amount of positivity and love that was present at the Women’s March on London. I swear it changed something fundamental about the world that day. So for all those that don’t know whether it is worth it to attend an event that promotes kindness and equality, don’t think. Just put your coat on and walk into the light.