So many Goddard students and faculty participated in the January 21st Women’s March in marches across the country. This series highlights some of those marches. Here are notes on being part of the Washington, D.C. march by Health Arts and Sciences student Jan Booth. Also see Taina Asili’s experience in the D.C. march posted several days ago.
Big things were born out of that day of global Women’s Marches. Three things stand out for me personally:
- The sheer size of the crowds who wanted to be at the DC March
There was little cell reception, so we weren’t aware of just how big an area the March covered as we walked in from the rally bus drop-off at RFK Stadium. We could hear an increasing roar from the crowd as we approached the back of the Capitol, and saw people everywhere…but it wasn’t until I was able to stand up on the steps of a medical vehicle that I caught a glimpse of the massive crowd extending from our side of Independence all the way across the Mall, across Constitution Ave., and into those side streets towards the White House. There was massive determination, tremendous good will, fierce and funny signage, and a surprising number of families.The fact that we couldn’t actually march, because there were too many people jam-packed everywhere, was an ironic victory. Smaller streets and pop-up routes were established for marching, which got things moving and re-energized. Most of us couldn’t hear the speakers, so we engaged with the people in the crowd around us. Given the mass of people and the uncertainty of the logistics, it was good that everyone we encountered kept it cool…even amidst the fierceness. There was something visceral about the sheer physicality of that many people all together in that space — the opposite of isolation and detachment. When we got home and saw reports of all the marches around the world, I was stunned and heartened.
- The opening-up of a new and energized conversation with my extended family about intersectional feminism
We had 18 family and friends in for the March from all across the country, including my daughter and three of our nieces. Mostly white, mostly women, mostly straight, with a core of nurses and social workers. As we shared stories, conversations, and postings from news & social media later that evening, it became clear that there were other significant narratives developing that were challenging us to go deeper. More waking up. It has since produced a steady burst of new conversations among our extended family and friends about intersectional feminism and privilege and political vigilance, for a start. Lots of other questions — How effective are marches, what about all the pink pussy hats, the exclusion of pro-life women’s groups, generational differences in resistance, the privilege of peaceful protest, how to be an ally, where is common ground with Trump supporters, recognizing variations of white fragility, why haven’t we been at BLM protests,how to stay focused with all the urgent issues… More layers peeled back, more understanding, more listening. Lists of new reading are shared, new ways to engage with grassroots organizations outside of our usual tribes…and new layers of willingness to be uncomfortable and challenged. Family bonding over power, pussies, and privilege!
- The grassroots, organic evolution of the Women’s March leadership and where we go next
We see new coalitions, old hurts, uncertain alliances, and fresh leadership emerge from the grassroots. Watching those four fierce women come together was powerful for me — Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez, and Bob Bland are a whole new face of leadership compared to what I saw coming-up in marches in the 1960s and 1970s. It’s the new normal and the way forward, from what I can tell. Like with any birth, it’s messy and unpredictable, too. I’m riding the waves of inspiration and fear and fatigue and determination, like so many others during these first weeks of traumatic Trump leadership. I’m trying to stay woke, keep listening, stay engaged locally in my community, build bridges, and stay steady. I’ve found it essential to balance out the urgency of social media and news cycles with the big picture mythos from people like Michael Meade…especially his recent talks on inauguration, fear, and the rise of the Feminine. Interestingly, tracking the bigger story at play here keeps me firmly connected to my own soul and spirit life.
~ Jan Booth, Washington D.C. march