By Julia –
Before the march, I had trouble finding hope – I want to pursue a profession in family planning, and I care deeply for women’s rights internationally. Unfortunately, these fields have never been in a worse position. But through all of my frustrations, motivation and hope have been born. I am optimistic for our nation because of the sheer number of people that I now know will not stand for the mistreatment of women in this country, or the mistreatment of women anywhere. We are Trump’s bosses now.
As a white (and Jewish) woman, I had the privilege to feel relief while many who are more marginalized than myself continue to feel intense pain and fear. There was hypocrisy from many women who claimed to be advocates for women of color. While many held signs that said, “Respect Women of Color”, they didn’t appear to be paying close enough attention to the the Mothers of the Movement, women who shared their moving stories about losing their children in the hands of gun violence. It doesn’t matter how tired you were or how many hours you had been standing for – if you could hear these women cry, “say his name!” you had a responsibility to listen. Indigenous women had white women take pictures of them, while they refused fliers on pipelines and fracking. But I do not believe that unintentionally racist participants in the march ruined the event – in fact, they highlighted areas where we have the most work to do as intersectional feminists.
Let me be clear: I do not aim to speak for women of color. Women of these groups were offended by aspects of the march, and it would be completely inappropriate for me to say that those women’s feelings about the march are invalid. However, it is important to recognize that the march was created with intersectionality in mind. The original women who organized the march are extremely open to criticism; they want to be pushed to promote inclusivity as much as possible. In response to a critique prior to the march that their platform was not inclusive of disabled women, the march leaders stated that they were thankful for those who were pushing them, and changed their website’s statement to be more inclusive. The women’s march was one of the largest gatherings of disabled people in history, and there was even a virtual march online for those physically unable to walk.
This past weekend, it was powerful to march with my mom, aunt, and sister. I marched with them on Saturday, but I will march with them for the rest of my life as we continue to build up and empower one another. If nothing else, I can be certain that the election of this juvenile human is a call to action. We will not simply go home at the end of the day feeling good about ourselves that we marched and held up signs. We will speak to our representatives, support the organizations who are in danger, and speak up for those in need of a louder voice. We will not only undo the damage caused by this presidency, we will refine ourselves until we are the best movement we can be.
Julia K. reflected on her experiences at the Women’s March on Washington in mid-January. She a senior in high school and is the president of her School Girls Unite chapter.