Three students share their stories of hope, inspiration, and love
36 Hours of Inspiration
by Stacey Lacina
My experience with the Women’s March on Washington started on Facebook. In the weeks after election night–when all I did was blog angrily and watch SNL while laughing bitterly–I was looking for something to do, some action to take where my voice could be heard. And that’s when I saw the Women’s March. It was shared on my Facebook page by a former English professor (a rather unexpected source). Back then, we had no idea how big this march would get. As January snuck up on us, it became increasingly clear that the Women’s March was not just some run-of-the-mill protest. Hundreds of thousands of people were going to show up, and despite my family’s concerns about safety, my mom finished knitting me a Pussyhat™ and sent me on my way.
Two friends and I left NYC on a Megabus with shitty WiFi and even shittier seats at 10 PM on Friday, January 20th. Pointedly ignoring all inauguration coverage, we arrived at Union Station at 3 AM and proceeded to sleep for 5 hours. The march began at 10 AM, so when the time came (after we had bought coffee with 3 espresso shots each), we left our little isolated corner and emerged outside. Immediately, we were overwhelmed by crowds of hundreds of women wearing pink Pussyhats and waving Nasty Women signs.
To be completely honest, it was one of the most incredible things I have ever seen, and I almost started crying. We marched and waved our signs, sang, chanted, and for the first time since November, I felt hopeful. I have been to a lot of protests in my life (since I’m such a “durn hippie liberal”), but this was the most diverse, the most united, and most emotional one I have ever attended. Being able to march with hundreds of thousands of other women who feel as strongly about our pussy-grabbing, rapist president as I do was encouraging, to say the least. It was a beautiful and inspiring day, with a group of beautiful and inspiring people.
Between 10 AM and 4 PM, we marched down the National Mall, from the Capitol Building to the Washington Monument, and eventually, we ended at the White House. Trump didn’t make any comments about our protest that day, but as half a million women stood strong outside the center of government, ready to fight in order to take back our rights, I imagine that he must have felt a modicum of fear. Good. Because he should be afraid.
A Crossroad for Equality
by Colleen Burns
On January 21st, I attended the Women’s March on New York City, marching to protest injustice, advocate equality, and perhaps gain some sort of solace after the presidential inauguration of a racist, sexist, anti-gay (the list goes on) Cheeto. I had been thinking about the march for days leading up to that Saturday. With my sister planning to attend the D.C. March, constant Facebook event updates, and the excited chatter among my friends, the march was more than on my mind. However, I could never have imagined the feeling of marching in solidarity with 250,000 people or the newfound hope I gained for America’s future as I walked out of Grand Central station.
The streets were packed with people of differing gender, race, sexuality, age, and ability. Practically everyone had thoughtfully crafted signs, stating phrases such as, “Women’s Rights are Human Rights” and “Love Trumps Hate,” while voices chanted, expressing these same sentiments. Most importantly, the streets were packed with sheer determination to be heard. Among the people, the signs, the chants, and the unifying desire for equality, I was overcome with the feeling that history was being made.
But let’s pause: my experience was not everyone’s experience. While I felt empowered and moved by this march, others felt excluded. Namely, many women in the trans community felt ostracized by the large number of people marching with pussy hats, as not all women have female genital parts. Although the pussy hats were a direct response to President Trump’s rhetoric, they were fixated on in a way that incorrectly equated sex and gender, causing a march for equality to feel like a march for selective equality.
While from my perspective the march was successfully intersectional with a diverse group of speakers and marchers campaigning for everyone’s equality, I later learned my privilege had blinded me. For instance, the media showered the Women’s March with praises that were never given to the Black Lives Matter movement. Additionally, two questions kept surfacing: if white and black women are fighting for the same rights, where were all these white women at the BLM protests, and will they show up to the next one?
Now we come to debatably an even more important marker in history because we are at a crossroad. One road pits these differing social groups against each other while another road leads to true collaboration to attain justice and equality for all. The second road will inevitably be harder but unequivocally worthwhile.
Right Hand Woman
by Kelly Tyra
As my three friends and I drove from Manhattan to D.C. for the Women’s March on Washington, I listened to Hamilton for the first time. It seemed fitting and even eerie as the cast who confronted Mike Pence just months earlier sung my reality, “Today there are four of us, tomorrow there’ll be more of us.” We woke early the next morning. A mile from the mall at 8 AM the city was silent. We finished our signs for the march over bagels and coffee. On our way out the deli owner wished us luck. Broken glass from anti-Trump outbursts the night before sparkled on the sidewalk outside his door.
We made our way to the center of the city as pink hats began to color the sidewalks. Street signs for the National Mall and Newseum were joined by handwritten posters of various colors, languages, and shade levels. Anti-Trump confetti stirred in the breeze amongst bare bone bleachers from the presidential parade. The crowd began to thicken. We walked until we were surrounded, coming to a stop before the teleprompter at the National Museum of the American Indian. There we stood for five hours, watching senators, celebrities, and organizers on the screen, scanning the crowd to see people hanging on streetlights and kids climbing trees for a better look at the masses gathered.
Though we heard little to nothing from the stage, we knew the crowds who had converged did not need to hear the impassioned words as much those who were absent. Suddenly, we were moving. Though the march had been cancelled due to the size of the crowd, we could not be stopped. The area between the Capitol Building and the Washington Monument was a sea of support and poster paper. We started and joined in various chants, “Thank you, Obama,” “Our bodies, our choice,” “We want a leader not a creepy tweeter,” “Si se puede.” As one group grew tired, another grew strong and the words echoed across the crowd and country in symphony. A woman behind us offered a snack and turned out to be a Fordham professor of theology who had driven down with her husband. My freshman year roommate who had since transferred to a school in Texas sent me Snapchats from somewhere in the crowd. My sister sent me texts from the March in Providence, my mother from the March in New York.
We arrived back on campus just as the march towards Mugz began. I hit the showers, feeling nastier than ever, humming Hamilton under my breath.