Tuesday, January 31, 2017

This is what democracy looks like.

The day after the inauguration, millions of people across the country and around the world marched for equality in solidarity with the Women's March on Washington. There were over 50,000 people in Austin alone, and I was one of them. (Apparently, we broke the record for the largest protest in Texas history.) It was the most incredible thing I've ever been a part of, and I'll remember it for the rest of my life.

A few friends and I met up for breakfast at Counter Cafe before the march and walked to the Capitol building, the starting point of the march, together. The closer we got to Congress Avenue, the more people we could see wearing pink "pussy" hats and purple shirts (the chosen color of the Austin march), carrying homemade signs that said "WOMEN'S RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS" and "HEAR OUR VOICE." I started getting choked up once we turned onto Congress and could clearly see the mass of people walking towards and surrounding the Capitol building. I thought (for not the first or last time that day), "I'm going to cry a lot today."

People of all ages, ethnicities, genders, and backgrounds gathered on the Capitol grounds to wait for the march to start. A girl-power playlist boomed over the loudspeakers while everyone talked and laughed, took pictures of each other and their favorite signs, and searched from friends and family in the crowd.

If you saw a wild-eyed blonde girl running around, asking to take pictures of strangers, that was probably me. (I literally chased down a woman carrying a Dr. Seuss-inspired sign.) The pictures here are only some of my favorites, but I shared all that I took in a public album on my Facebook, if you're interested.

I've never been good at estimating numbers of people. I obviously had hoped a lot of people would come, and, standing among the crowd, I knew there were a lot of people there. But if you had asked me for a number, I probably would have tentatively said, "Thousands?" Certainly not tens of thousands–not fifty freaking thousand people. It was estimated that it would take about an hour and a half for everyone to complete the march route and arrive back at the Capitol, but an hour and a half in people were still funneling through the three gates to exit the Capitol grounds. Those at the front of the march had already made it back before I was even close to the street.

An older lady behind me (who carried a sign that said "WE WILL NOT GO BACK" in bright red letters) told me that of all the marches she'd been to, this was the "slowest" one. "It's just because there are so many people here," she said, "which is amazing!" There were people hanging out of open windows and standing on balconies, waving their own signs and chanting with us. A large quilted banner that said "LOVE TRUMPS HATE" hung from the side of a parking garage, and even more people were lining every level of the garage.

It was amazing to witness the unity, the love. We marched for women, for Muslims, for black lives, for LGBTQ, for Natives, for all people of color—for everyone whose rights are being threatened and for those who still do not have their rights. It was never about any one of us, but about all of us. As a straight white woman, I have a TON of privileges, and I hope that I can continue to use my position to elevate the voices of those who do not have the same privileges as me. We are so much better together.

The last eleven days have been hard (I can't believe it's only been eleven days), but I'm trying to keep in mind all of the good things–all of the sister marches around the world, the spontaneous protests at airports across the country, lawyers working pro bono to help those who'd been detained, all those using their platforms to speak out and fight.

There are so many people fighting! It's important that we keep fighting, and there are so many ways we can do that. The organizers of the Women's March on Washington launched a campaign for ten actions to take in the first hundred days, and Cup of Jo shared a few links on their wrap up of the Women's March. This site helps you make five calls a day to your congresspersons, and here are helpful tips on how to make those calls when you have social anxiety (c/o Nicole).

Take care of yourselves, guys. Stay loud.


1 comment :

Nicola said...

Oh Maggie, all these photos are so amazing. So proud of you and all these women.

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