A few weeks ago the New York Times had an open submission for people planning to attend the Women's March on Washington on January 21. I did not get to make my NYT debut, but I still wanted to share part of my submission:
Are you attending the Women's March on Washington? If so, what is motivating you to participate?
I am attending the Women's March because Donald J. Trump's campaign and election ignited a fire within me that I did not know was there. My rights as a legal immigrant and woman feel threatened as they never have in my whole life. I am participating because I love this nation and the freedoms we enjoy and want to demonstrate that love. I want to meet other like-minded women, learn their stories, make new friends and build alliances, because I think the relationships between smart and brave women in the United States will be more important than ever before. A man who jokes about sexual assault, mocks disabilities and fears individuals who are not like him holds the highest office in our land. Despite these horrors, if it was not for Donald Trump’s election, I might not be participating in the first political demonstration of my life on January 21. Through my tears shed on November 9, after Hillary Clinton’s concession speech, after Michelle Obama’s final speech and President Obama’s farewell speech, I made a promise to myself that I would learn more about my government and to quote our beloved 44th President, be an “anxious, jealous guardian of democracy.” Participating in the Women’s March is a small step before many I plan to take these next four years in guarding our democracy and honoring the legacy of so many brave men and women before me who have felt the same fears and worries as me. I am motivated by my immigrant mother and father. I am motivated by every time I proudly check the “F” box when identifying my gender on applications and forms. I am motivated by the women in my life who have taught me, comforted me, believed in me and loved me. I am motivated by the woman who was the first female presidential nominee in the history of our country. I am motivated by the man who will be formally appointed the 45th president of the United States of America on January 20, 2017.
I attended the Women's March on Washington and it was a beautiful day. I marched with one of my best friends and though it was just the two of us, I felt like I was marching with thousands of friends. The energy was so positive and contagious. I laughed a lot and sporadically shed some tears because I was so moved by the number of people, not just women, who felt the same way as me and wanted to do something about it.
I chose a quote by James Baldwin to write on my sign. I think this quote most accurately and eloquently exemplifies the danger of a Trump presidency. There were some really incredible, creative, funny and thought-provoking signs and my regret was not capturing more of them.
I had worries, especially after hearing about the violence that occurred on Inauguration Day, that there might be anti-march protesters, but I really only witnessed a very tiny group with hateful and disgusting signs, and I was too far away from them to hear anything they were saying. Overall, everyone was so warm and happy. If you bumped into anyone, you were always met with an "I'm sorry!" Also the D.C. Homeland Security Director reported there were no arrests from the Women's March. Cuz women get it done :) It was also the second busiest day in Metro history, the first was Obama's 2009 Inauguration :) :)
I left the march feeling inspired, empowered and excited. The biggest takeaway for me was the importance of not ending my activism when I got on the bus back to Boston. Speaker after speaker emphasized the necessity of taking the energy and outrage we've felt since November 9 back to our communities. We need to continue to speak out against this administration's policies that are contrary to our beliefs in what is right and good for our nation. I believe women's rights, minorities rights and climate change education are just a few things that are positive and only benefit and make our country stronger. I want to continue to advocate for these things and look for opportunities to educate myself and make my voice known.
The Women's March was my first political demonstration and judging by the latest actions by our new president, it probably will not be my last :)