On January 21st, three girlfriends and I went north to attend the Women's March on Washington. The event was created the day after the 2016 Election as a simple Facebook post. From Election Night to Inauguration Day, the Women's March began to wildly evolve. Sister solidarity marches began popping up in New York, Austin, Copenhagen, and 500 other cities around the world. Hundreds of thousands of people wanted to be apart of the movement!
My girlfriends and I had talked about going to event but never made concrete plans. Two weeks before, the price of the rally buses had skyrocketed from $35 to $90, Amtrak trains were sold-out, and people were buzzin' in my ear about the possibility of a dangerous situation. I was feeling lazy and the option of picking up a shift seemed more appealing. Yet, at my core, I couldn't commit and I kept looking at possible ways of getting up to D.C. After a chat with my Judy in Seattle, she said how much she wished she could be in D.C. for this event and she thought I might regret not going. She was right. How could I be a woman with a Social Justice degree and say that I didn't go out of pure laziness? What side of history do I really want to be on? I was thankful that my girl Summer offered to drive and we rallied two more pals to ride with and that was it! We were going!
Our friend Jenny's neighbor made us hot pink hats via Pussyhat Project. This project developed as a way for marchers to make a collective visual statement in every city. In addition, for those who couldn't attend, the hat was another way of representing and supporting women's rights. The color pink was chosen cuz you know, the color to represent female. As much as I am for gender-neutrality, I f-ing love the color pink. And while I don't love using the word pussy (I prefer vagine), it was chosen as a way to reclaim the word as a means of empowerment.
I kept joking that train rides in Tokyo truly prepared ME for D.C. Metro mania. We managed to squeeze ourselves into a pretty full car. Morning breath and close quarters were a major concern of mine. Three more people hopped on at the next stop and I was certain the train was going to malfunction. It didn't and of course, there were many cheers when we finally made it. It was a crazy sight to turn around and see a platform full of people plus all of the people ahead of me, patiently trying to filter on the smallest escalator possible.
I can't even describe the feeling that I had when we emerged out of the metro station. Scores on scores on scores of people! Signs and pink and music and speeches and I just wanted to burst into tears. I just felt so happy to be amongst like-minded folks who wanted their voices to be heard. We were drawn to the big cutouts of Cher, Bette Midler, Lady Gaga, and the crew blasting Whitney Houston. We accepted a handout about #NoFascism and listened to their speeches. It was already impossible to move around the crowd, but we found a pathway along with perimeter of the Department of Education building.
Honestly, we spent the first hour and a half just looking for a bathroom!! The Internet made it seem like there was going to be hundreds of porta-potties, but our eyes determined that was a LIE ! There was literally 3 stalls with a long ass line. I'm already kinda nauseous when it comes to public bathrooms, but straight up, I would have rather peed outside than wait in that line. So I basically didn't drink anything for hours until we could get to my girl Casey's house. In this process, I saw Eddie Huang and his Viceland crew, which I fan-girled about, then we saw Padma Lakshmi running through the crowd. My two D.C. celeb sightings were food stars.
We were trying to make our way back to the rally stage but we simply could not push ourselves any further. The streets of D.C. seemed to be at capacity. We stood around for awhile, trying to get a glimpse or earful of something but it was nearly impossible! We were on 7th and Independence, right by the Hirshhorn Museum. For about an hour, we kept creeping closer to the crowd thinking that the march would start rolling at any minute. Nobody could get service, so there wasn't a real way to know what was going on. I was ear-hustling on the people next to me and they were reading a CNN headline that said the official march route was so flooded with people, we could not actually march. We were determined to march it out, so we decided to find our own way to the White House. Luckily, others had the same idea and we were able to fall right into a march right behind some puppets and gals on stilts. We held a broken sign for a theatre company, before pawning it off on other marchers.
We were in the thick of it all. People burning smudge sticks, throwing confetti, and dancing their way to the White House. After a while, we jumped out of the crowd to eat some snacks. I packed enough snacks to feed a family of four. I People cheered for cars that made their way through the crowd and safely parted when an emergency vehicle need to come thru. As soon as we made it to the Washington Monument, we spotted rows and rows of porta-potties! I still wasn't about to use one though.
We got as close to the White House as we could before police horses prevented us from going any further. We battled cried with everyone else and I wondered if the horses were bothered by all of the noise. I remember being in front of the White House in December and pleading for the Obamas to stay. At this point, you could have marched in any direction. The streets were flooded every which way you looked. So we decided to march ourselves down 9th street, which was in the direction of our destination. We were passing the Bureau of Engraving & Printing, where they have banners of currency hanging from the front of the building. It just looked like George, Abe, Hamilton, and Harriet were looking over us. The echoes roared down 9th street. I kept falling behind of my group because I wanted to take a picture of every amazing sign that I saw!
I was incredibly inspired by all of the signs that I saw. I don't care if that's cheesy. It gave me an idea of the wide range of issues that people were speaking out about. It was clear this was so much more than a women's but a march for unity. Yes, there were mad people with pink hats (myself included) and pussy posters, but I believe that almost all of the issues were represented amongst marchers. After stopping at our friend Casey's house, I peed for the first time in 7 hours, then we ate at Amsterdam Falafel!!!!
A man approached us while we were waiting for the subway and asked us what the hats meant. We explained it to him without saying the word pussy and he felt it necessary to say (or something like), "Back in my mother's day, they used to have back door abortions, but I think the profanity of the word is demeaning to the issue." We were like, SIR. He wasn't dumb, he knew what the hats meant. He just was testing the waters with four women who marched all day give and don't give AF about your opinion. NEXT! Summer graciously told him to scram and he went on his way. That was probably the only negative experience we had the entire day.
The day after the march, the Internet was on fire. There is literally an article written by every type of person bashing the march. There were many women who didn't support the march, as well as arguments over the level of importance of the issues. All of the bashing was kinda breaking my spirit. I know I've been on some crazy Buddha vibes but division and us vs them attitudes seem counterproductive. I felt overwhelming unity at the march and I do believe this is a jumping off point for people to truly get involved and make a difference. Educate yourselves, find issues that you are most passionate about and FIGHT FOR THEM! If you don't think your voice makes a difference, I encourage you to give it a try. We can't all fight for the same cause, but we can support each other. I am so glad I didn't let my fear stop me from attending because it truly enhanced my perspective. No arrests, no injuries; the march was peaceful and , and I would call that a success.
Want to know how you can get involved? The Women's March organizers have created 10 Actions in 100 Days to follow along with and stay engaged.