I feel the need to write about Saturday’s Women’s March protest since it’s so fresh in my mind, and I think it’s important to talk about.
Okay, so I wasn’t sure if I should get political …
I really just want to talk about how great the march was more than anything, but I understand the political expression. However, I in no way am pushing my political agenda on anyone. This is simply a passion post and to show support for those who feel the same. (But I also do feel some sense of social responsibility as well … but different discussion for a different time …)
Late Friday night, me and my roommate decided we wanted to participate in the Women’s March in San Diego the next day, and it was on a whim, too. My roommate gets anxiety in large crowds and I hate traffic, but we were literally compelled by the emotions the inauguration sparked (dread, worry, confusion), and overwhelmed with missing Obama. Yeah, so what? We’re a bunch of democratic saps. It was in those moments that made us realize that some things are bigger than our biggest fears, anxieties, and pet peeves, etc. It became clear that it was about doing what’s right. (One of my favorite protest signs read: “So bad, even introverts are here”).
There was also no way we were going unprepared to the march so we made protest signs in a mad scramble the morning of, but made sure our messages were personal and clear.
[Also, fun (but stupid) fact: I wore my NASA sweatshirt because it was the only barely politically relevant thing I owned. I had just seen the movie Hidden Figures and it felt super relevant for my emotions. Equality + Empowering. Boom.]
My protest sign read, “If You’re Not Outraged You’re Not Paying Attention”. It was the saying that resonated with me the most after an intense Google search for best protest sign, (sorry, I’m not that creative in a time crunch). A close second was: “This pussy grabs back” 😉 (My roommates sign read, “Men of Quality Do Not Fear Equality).
The air was electric the moment we started trekking to the start of the march at San Diego’s Civic Center, running into more and more people as we got closer. There was an odd, almost tangible closeness between strangers as we stood waiting on street corners silently shooting supportive smirks while we read each others protest signs and shirts. [see bottom of post for more protest signs]
As more protestors began to gather I started realizing the Women’s March was going to be a much bigger deal than I anticipated. I think that must’ve been how the world felt as it watched, too
When we made it to Civic Center Plaza the crowd was already massive, overflowing down blocks in every direction. It was hard for my eyes to absorb the chaos, a blur of protest signs expressing provocative outrage and wit regarding the current state of affairs. I got a few requests from protesters to take pictures of my sign. I was shocked, but I realized the sign resonates with them too! It was this silly moment of: duh, everyone is here for the same reasons you are! It lifted a strange weight off my shoulders. I suddenly didn’t feel so alone about something we’ve all been helplessly witnessing. My roommates anxiety had disappeared and I didn’t care that we parked far away. We were feeling the same infectious sense of hope that was rumbling through the crowd of 40, 000 (KPBS Source) San Diegan’s. We couldn’t stop smiling.
The crowd was incredibly diverse. It felt like the America I know and love. From women, men, gay, transgender, Christian, Muslim, black, white, brown, etc. It was a refreshing group and an excellent sample of the American population. Not to mention the energy that flowed through everyone. Although something so negative brought us together I rarely saw a frown. We were just happy to unite.
I ended up running into a friend, which felt like a crazy accomplishment in the swarm of people flooding the streets. But when I started to look around I could hear tons of other groups running into people they knew, too. It’s this hilarious moment of realizing you’re friends with the right people, especially in a world were a political discussion can easily send a party into Armageddon. At this protest, running into old friends and making new ones, you knew that wasn’t going to happen. Here were 40,000 people who agreed with you politically. What a concept.
What it looked like while we waited to start: (Location: San Diego Civic Center Plaza)
When it hit 10:00am the speeches came over megaphone speakers to the crowd. We were lucky enough to hear pretty well but they were hard to see. The speakers were women of different races, political positions, educators, and CEO’s. They rallied the crowd with stories of diversity and strength, which gained echoing shouts of support. Then the crowd sang along to the Star Spangled Banner. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so patriotic in my life because contrary to popular belief, we were all there because we love our country … and want equality for everyone.
Then the march began, well kind of. It was a slow start and it was making people antsy, but I guess it’s hard to gather momentum of thousands of people, but eventually we started moving.
We marched on and everyone was so polite. Protesters made room for wheelchairs,walkers, strollers, etc. (also all protesters), and everyone was patient and smiling. No one was in a rush. We were all just hanging out walking for the cause. This was the definition of a peaceful protest.
We passed a hotel on Harbor Drive that had a man on a balcony about fifteen floors up holding a green neon sign that read he had marched for his immigrant mother. Protesters cheered and waved back.
There was even a large cruise ship docked in the harbor and workers stood atop the deck, all in a line as they waved us on in support, garnering more shouts and sign waving from protesters.
There was one particular thing I loved so so much. Kids. Everywhere. It was (for once) awesome. haha. Parents brought their children in droves. I even saw a little girl sitting atop her dad’s shoulders holding a megaphone. She yelled, “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights” and the crowd chanted back. It was incredible. I love the idea that these children are taking part in history. Their parents explaining to them why they’re marching and who they’re marching for. Showing them that they have a voice and teaching them the history behind it. It felt important and right.
The end was a little anticlimactic but it was still cool waiting and chatting with other protesters at the City Administration Building. I took in the crowd as thousands of people caught up and gathered. But there weren’t anymore speeches, not that I saw, and we stayed until about 1pm.
I did have one silly, but still wonderfully surreal moment while walking back to the car.
While standing on a street corner waiting to cross the road a large group of about 20 cops on bikes (okay, I might have giggled) came to a stop at the light where I was (not so) nonchalantly holding my protest sign. The cop in front studied me over his sunglasses as he read my sign, and I almost got a little nervous, but then in a strange turn of events he threw me the peace sign. I returned the gesture with my own. I suddenly felt like I was in this weird dream sequence and I was some girl in the 60’s at Woodstock and I just stuck a daisy in a cops gun … okay, obviously not that politically progressive OR exciting, but you get the picture. It was just surreal. They continued on and I had the stupidest grin on my face.
We went home feeling exhausted but utterly exhilarated. I’m proud to be part of something so important. I hope it makes a difference and I won’t stop, and neither will the 2.9 million who attended nationwide. The women’s march was reported being the biggest protest in U.S. history collectively as a nation, and I think it’s just the beginning. We’ll continue to do what other’s won’t and stand up for silent voices, and also honor/respect the people who protested our rights before us. This was about equal rights, and not allowing hate to be normalized. We’ve come too far.
My hope is that 20+ years from now my future daughter will read about the Women’s March in her history books and that on January 21st 2017 it became one of the largest protests in the United States. Then maybe she’ll run home to find pictures of me participating in the march with a big grin on my face. She’ll know that I marched for her rights, and her future daughter’s rights and her immigrant great grandparents. She’ll know through my example that doing what’s right trumps hate, always. … Really, I hope more than anything that 20+ years from now my future daughter will be living the results of our protest. She will have her freedom, equal pay, marry whoever she fucking wants, own her own body and know that she can be anything she sets her mind to, even if that’s president of the unites states.
I did my best not delving into the why I marched although it’s all pretty obvious. I tried to talk more about the journey and how it made me feel. You don’t need to know how panicked I get over our current political situation, or how my immigrant family members cringe at the mention of a new executive order that might be getting passed, or how my mother loses sleep over the idea that her daughter is losing her reproductive rights. Instead, I’ll leave a link to one of my favorite blog posts in regards to the Women’s March called “Sorry. You Are Not Equal” [click here]
But the fight doesn’t stop here. The organizers of the Women’s March have a page dedicated to keeping the momentum going. Check out their page for “10 Actions/100 Days” to see how you can help.
“… But it doesn’t end here – now is not the time to hang up our marching shoes – it’s time to get our friends, family and community together and make history.”
See below for more protest signs I loved:
Top Left: Remember where you came from
Top Right: Vagina. Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s none of you business.
Bottom left: R U FICKING KIDDING ME?
Bottom Right: Last time I checked “Pussy Grabbing” wasn’t in the presidents job description!?!? #FuckTrump
Want more hilariously politically poignant signs from the Women’s March? Check out this post from Buzzfeed: [click here]