Disclaimer: The views in this opinion article are those of the author and do not reflect the Blue&Gold or its editors.
One year ago, I attended the Women’s March in Washington D.C. This march took place the day after Donald Trump was named President, and at that time, I felt defeated. I felt like our country had fallen into a state that was patriarchal, racist, sexist, transphobic, Islamophobic, and every other oppressive label that belonged to the people who were now in charge. Attending the march, however, gave me hope that we were going to be okay. There were more of us than them and we were going to stand together and keep working toward a future that we could all believe in.
Here we are now, a year later. I consider myself to be a relatively optimistic person—I genuinely try to see what good things are out there, and I try to see the best in most situations. There were times this year, though, where I felt like things weren’t even real because they were so bad. This past year we’ve been introduced to the wall, the Muslim ban, the vote to repeal net neutrality, the banning of the word “transgender” from the CDC, and the blatant racist remarks from Trump about “sh**thole countries.”
I kept calling my senators, but since I’m from New York they were already on my side for most issues, so I felt like my calls weren’t making a difference. At times, I felt powerless. Whenever I felt this way, though, I thought back to January 21, 2017. I thought about the millions of people around the world who came out with their voices loud and clear saying that peace and love and equality are the future of our country and of the world.
This year I was able to attend the Women’s March in Philadelphia. Arriving at the train station to get into Philly, I saw dozens of people with their signs in their hands, ready to join the fight. My eyes got teary as I looked at children holding signs that said “Stop cursing Trump” and “The future is female.” I honestly did not expect to get as emotional as I did, but everything just came flooding back from the last march. We were a year in and the momentum was still there. People were still fighting, and we hadn’t given up.
Although there were less people at this march than the one in D.C. last year, the same feelings were still present. Everyone was there for one reason: change. There was a feeling of safety that I usually do not feel in huge crowds, but with everybody around me holding signs about consent and peace, they put me at ease. The main idea presented by the speakers was that we cannot stand still. We need to get out and vote and run for office. This is a huge election year, one where we can tell Trump that we are not taking his crap anymore. We can’t just sit around; it is our job to learn, educate, and then do. We can’t complain about problems if we don’t try to do anything to solve them.
I think the best part of this march was simply that it existed. We’re still out here and we’re still working toward something amazing. When I got home that night, my body sore from holding up my sign and being on my feet all day, I saw a New York Times article showcasing pictures from the women’s marches around the world. As I scrolled through the (extremely long) article, those tears from that morning returned. This thing that I was a part of is so much bigger than myself, and I really do think we’re sending a message.
#MeToo and #TimesUp became widespread this year, and I think it’s because women and marginalized communities are fed up. Granted, we’ve been fed up for a while now, but the women’s marches and these social media movements show that the numbers exist. We’re all here to help each other, and we can change the world. I know I’m ready to come out every year and march for my sisters, for my communities, and for those communities I’m not a part of, but for whom I can be an ally.
I really hope this movement continues and that people come out every January for years to come to share this message. I will never say that Trump becoming president was a good thing, but it did bring all of us together, and it made us ready to fight. As the mantra for the march said: Together, We Rise.
*I recognize that people have criticized the marches for being cisgender woman-focused, and comprised of primarily white women, and I do feel that the march organizers tried to mend this. The speakers were diverse and they spoke about Puerto Rico, disability rights, the queer community, equality for all, and more. There is always room for change, and the women’s marches are no exception to that. But I did see an effort from the organizers to give a voice to those who often do not have spaces to share their stories. Hopefully in the future, these marches can continue to be more diverse and let more incredible woman inspire the rest of us.