January 20th, 2018 marked a significant day in modern history for a multitude of reasons. It was the one year anniversary of Donald Trump’s occupancy in The White House, it was the first day of a historic U.S. Government shutdown, and the 2018 Women’s March was held all around the country (and globe). Having attended the March last year, I can honestly say that the energy was completely different this time around. Although we were still marching for the same issues (reproductive rights, systematic oppression, and protecting the environment) the focus here was centered on what we as constituents need to do next if we truly want to see change.
The theme of this year’s mobilization was #PowertoThePolls, an initiative to push for progressive politics through the sanction of exercising our right to vote. Despite this clear-cut message, there is a feeling of apprehension amongst many who fear that not enough people are paying attention– so it is always great to see such astounding turnout for events that challenge the systems in place. However, in order to keep the movement growing in both numbers and successes, we as a group need to change our focus in the coming years. For starters, we can not make Trump the center of our issues. Yes, he has given a platform to the discord and disproportions in our society, but these systems of oppression were in place and functioning long before he came into office and will continue long after he's gone if we, as citizens, do not change them. Attending a march holding a sign that says “Not My President” has little value if you are not implementing actions to make sure that he vacates that position. The idea of tackling this grave injustice and threat to our democracy is cute in theory but needs true grit and gumption in order to take action.
The Women’s March is a strong and powerful movement filled with gusto and fierceness, but some still have reservations about the inclusion aspects of it. Despite the organization being founded and run by a diverse set of women, a large percentage of attendees are white women. For people of color, there is a general feeling in these marches that they are focused on issues that only this demographic (of white women) face– that the issues communities of color deal with are not held in the same esteem.
In accordance and fairness, 2016 and 2017 were years that fueled those issues due to white women supporting the very patriarchy they were fighting against by voting for politicians who blatantly ignore minorities. Though some progress is being made to combat this with instances of solidarity, 2018 should be about finding room to do more. People coming from places of privilege should not just attend organized movements that are trending topics but also be immersed in the ones that support, uplift, and fight the struggles of the very people they claim to stand in solidarity with. Support can start with things such as raising awareness of transphobia as well as other acts of violence against LGBTQ community members, donating and promoting relief efforts for Puerto Rico, organizing and participating in the much needed mobilization for a clean DACA bill, or attending Black Lives Matter rallies with the same ferociousness seen at the Women’s March.
The change we are seeking can only be achieved if the masses are committed to the work and follow-through needed to create progress. Gathering in spaces filled with the intoxicating notion that change is possible and that you are a part of a large community that is fighting for the greater good can be fashioned as a belief that enough is being done– but that is a figment of a liberal imagination. The sea of complaints we have are valid and are right to cause frustration, but if the subject of our objections is not put into motion then we will find the movement to be futile and our opportunities for real change will lay to rest. •
Photo Journal of 2018 NYC Women's March by Dierra Bynum-Reid