Yesterday hundreds of thousands – no wait, millions – of people came together to march for women’s rights, LGBTQIA rights, affordable healthcare, immigrant rights… basically recognition as a human being by the new President, Donald Trump and his cabinet of billionaires. At this time, reports are showing that there were 673 sister marches in cities across the world in addition to the march on Washington, D.C., and that over a million of those participants were in D.C. I myself marched in Boston, with an estimated 175,000 of my closest friends.
I decided to march last-minute. I’m a little disappointed in myself for not deciding to march when they were first announced – I am guilty of not quite understanding the “why” of the protest. Let’s be honest here, I didn’t even seriously consider marching until my husband, a person I credit for getting me to read and think and have an opinion about politics, turned to me 36 hours before the march and said “we should do this.” So we did.
We marched with some of my closest girlfriends. Apparently we all lost our skills for planning and sort of fell into each other. My friend Marissa had already asked us if we were interested in marching with the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, where she volunteers, at our monthly book club meeting the week earlier, and only one of us seemed to be paying attention. When I learned that Becki was marching, through her blog, I told her we wanted to join her – lucky for us that meant joining up with Marissa too. I casually mentioned to Kelley and Michelle that Jason and I were going, and they in turn decided the morning of to join us. Sarah had planned to go by herself, a decision I thought was brave and beautiful, and at the last-minute changed her mind and joined up with us, partly for safety, partly because if you’re going to change history why not do it with your friends? (apologies to Monica and Allie and Jacy and anyone else in the BBC – we didn’t mean to leave you out. Love ya girls.)
We didn’t have signs. Jason wore a No Mas sweatshirt. Marissa wore a bandana from the BARCC made for the occasion (due to scheduling we ended up not marching with them, but check them out online). Michelle wore her Hillary Pantsuit t-shirt and Michelle Obama leggings. I wore a pussy hat – given to me by someone I knew that bumped into Jason and me on the train to the march. Some of us were hung over, some sore, some just cold and hungry – Michelle had to come late and still managed to find us in the crowd because she is a magician – but we were there and present and proud.
We couldn’t get close to the front. Actually, we were probably pretty close – we could still hear the speakers but only just. But who cared? We were surrounded by thousands of women, men, and children holding signs, chanting “justice” and “march” and cheering on Elizabeth Warren and Marty Walsh as they asked us to stand up for our rights. Every once in a while we’d hear a shout from the distance, “Fuck yeah!”, followed by an apology to all the children for the curse words. We took pictures of our favorite signs and applauded a group of ten people that snaked through the crowds with huge signs that spelled out “F-u-c-k-T-r-u-m-p-!” on one side and “P-u-s-s-y-P-o-w-e-r” on the other.
When the march finally started moving, we made it over a small rise and looked down into a sea of protestors. The sun was peaking through the clouds, the city was a hazy background, and it was stunning. Thousands of people were jammed together, all jovial, all supportive, all ready to stand up for what they believed in. As we inched towards the exit to the streets, we pointed out our favorite signs to one another.
Ultimately, our group realized that we weren’t going to be able to actually march. Boston is a small city and no one had expected a crowd this size, as peaceful as it was. We were all exhausted and aching (standing without moving for three hours is HARD) and hungry. So, with a little disappointment, we all made our way back through the crowd to the train station.
Still, WE WERE THERE. We rallied for our rights. We were high on life, let me tell you.
I titled this blog post “Why I Marched” and I haven’t even talked about why I marched. I would hope that why I marched, me being a woman, would be obvious, but I know there are a lot of people out there that won’t allow themselves to understand why millions of people felt the need to hold a peaceful protest that day.
I marched because I believe that as a woman, I deserve the same rights as a man. I deserve affordable health care. I deserve to earn a dollar for every dollar my husband makes. I marched because I am an ally for people of color, for people who identify as LGBTQIA, for people who immigrated to this country, for people with disabilities, for people who can’t afford private education, for people who are persecuted because they don’t fit some kind of standard. I marched because I want President Trump to know that he has a big job ahead of him, and we’re going to keep him on his toes. I want President Trump to understand that we will not go quietly. I marched because I want President Trump to know we believe in a better world than he’s suggesting, and that if he listened, we could work together to actually make America great.
But wait – this isn’t about me. This is about all women, all people of color, all immigrants – all of us. I marched because this is bigger than me. This is about the 150 million women in the US whose rights are being violated, whether they recognize it or not.
I marched because I am an American and a woman, and adding my voice to the 175,000 other voices on the Boston Common just made us louder.