On Saturday, we marched for women’s rights. For Black Lives Matter. For LGBTQIA+. For immigrants. For refugees. For indigenous people. For the marginalized in our own country. For the war torn abroad. For equality. For healthcare. For the environment. For love, no matter what. We marched against hate, ignorance, xenophobia, misogyny, and fear. This was a place for every human cause. Every humane cause.
The marchers were kind. The police were kind. The store clerks were kind. The Trump supporters (for the most part) were polite. We stood shoulder to shoulder — if not closer — with thousands upon thousands of hopers and helpers, dreamers and doers, and there was no violence. No arrests. When met with barricades, we slowed to keep everyone safe. When help was needed, every hand reached out. People climbed trees to scout paths. The crowd played telephone to share information about a missing child or an uneven step or a violin left on a train.
The Women’s March was emotional, for everyone. When the young child of immigrant parents spoke in Spanish, telling immigrants’ children to not be afraid, that the marchers will look out for them — we wept.
When we spied an eighty-year-old woman leaning deeply into her cane, eyes shut against hour four of the rally — we wept.
When we heard our own voices echo “Sí, se puede” off white buildings, 500,000+ voices ringing on in the hushed silence that followed — we wept.
And when we marched by a Syrian refugee who held his sign to face us, a sign that expressed his gratitude for America and its people and his support of all of our freedoms, when someone gave him an American flag, when that Syrian waved it over his head, and when he wept — we wept.
We wept openly for those oppressed. We wept in hope, in fear, in anger, and in elation. And we wept because we saw that we are not alone.
Two days in DC and we didn’t sightsee. Instead, we met with women and men and children and families, connecting over what went wrong and what we can do now.
The word repeated itself. “What can we do now?” We can’t change what has past. And tomorrow may be too late. Now. It is what we have.
So we spoke to Americans, Canadians and British. To people from Delaware, Montana, Seattle, Utah, Pennsylvania, Florida, Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado. We spoke in the march and on the Mall; in parks, trains, subways, cafés, shops, Lyfts, national monuments, museums, airports, and airplanes. We cheered and chanted, high-fived and hugged, nodded and winked. We shared our shared experiences, our unique experiences, and overlapped each other in praise of the planning, and in wonder at the kindness of half a million densely-packed people.
And we repeated Our Numbers to one another, the ones that mattered to our hearts: 100,000 in Portland. 3,500 in Anchorage. 250,000 in Chicago. 250,000 in New York. 750,000 in Los Angeles. 6,000 in Salt Lake City. 3.3 million across 550 cities and towns in the U.S. And support in Paris, in Mexico City, in Berlin and in Sydney; in Cape Town, in Nairobi, and in Paradise Bay, Antarctica.
“I wish you could see yourselves,” gushed one speaker from the stage, blocks and blocks from where we stood. “You are so beautiful.”
We smiled, but didn’t know what that meant until we saw the photos from above, after it was over. We had no idea. We had no idea we were so many or so powerful.
We were — and are — united. This global rising showed us that we are not alone in this. And while it may feel, at times, that we are too late, that we are too divided, that white women came too late, that allies have been asleep — we aren’t now. We are all awake. And we all have now.
To my aunt from Alaska and to my best friend from college: Marching in Washington DC may have been the most impactful experience I’ve ever had. I can’t thank you both enough for being beside me. I will never forget this.
To my husband’s uncle who housed us in Baltimore: You are a saint and a champion. I loved sharing this with you.
And to those who say they didn’t need to march, who say that women like me, with food in my belly, clothes on my back, and the money in my pocket to fly to DC , do not have a reason to march; who say they personally do not feel the pain of inequality, the ache of poverty, the oppression of their race or gender, the panic of being without healthcare, the fear of rape or violence or abuse, the crushing burden — or the impact, or the bodily harm — of an unwanted or forced or unviable pregnancy, to those I say:
This is why I marched. So that everyone may feel your comfort. So one day everyone can enjoy the same complacency you do. We didn’t march for ourselves. We marched for everyone.
I took the march’s message to heart: we can not rest when the least of us suffers. We can no longer say, “that isn’t my issue.” Because all of it is our issue. So I will continue to actively fight for kindness. And hope. And equality. And I hope you will too. If you have questions, I will answer them. If you have ideas, I want to help. If you have complaints, I will listen.
And if you, like me, have a renewed sense of what you need to do — I will stand beside you.