This past weekend, I attended the Women’s March in New York City. The march was supposed to go up 5th Avenue and end at Trump Tower, but there was a massive overflow of people, closing down most of Midtown Manhattan. There were so many people that for the first few hours, we were all at a standstill. Despite being in a gridlock, the positive vibes were strong. People laughed, joked, and allowed others to pass by. Many people wore pink hats and carried signs of protest including “Women’s Rights are Human Rights,” “Build Bridges, Not Walls,” “Love Trumps Hate,” “Equality for All,” and my personal favorite, “Pussy Grabs Back.” I saw babies in strollers, grandmothers with canes, and every age in between. I marched for many reasons, but wanted to share three specific reasons why I attended the march.
First, I am actually patriotic. I realized this about myself recently when I was thinking about the refugees fleeing Syria. It must be so heart-wrenching to leave your country because of war. I wouldn’t want to be in that situation. And though I flirt with the idea of one day living abroad, I also feel that I carry my American identity for life. And proudly so.
I think part of patriotism is a gratitude for all the freedoms we have in this country, including protest. The new president has threatened some of these core values- freedom of speech and religion to name a few- and I feel it is an act of patriotism to stand up for those values.
Second, I marched for those who could not or would not attend. I think of my Colombian grandmother, who has signed every petition posted on Facebook, asking for Trump’s removal from the presidency. She is unsteady on her feet and unable to participate in a protest such as the Women’s March. And there are many other people who perhaps can’t march due to physical restrictions, fears of large crowds, or for whatever reason cannot openly disagree with the state of politics.
Finally, I marched because I still believe in our democracy, even if it feels like it failed us during this election. I looked up the etymology of the word democracy and it literally means “the people rule.” On Saturday, peacefully protesting amidst thousands and in solidarity with other marches around the world, I felt the rising tide of the people and our collective power. I did feel a very strong sense that as individuals we were gathering to become “the people” who will not have their rights taken away so easily.
The big question now is where do we go from here? How do we continue to build the momentum of the Women’s March and move forward? These are the questions I am asking myself. The March was incredible and it was a first step in what will be a long fight to ensure the values of this country.