Yesterday, I was one of half a million humans who attended the #WomensMarch On Washington in the D.C. area. I wish I had words to describe the experience as a whole and what it means to me, and yet, even 24 hours later, words escape me.
The words I do have can tell you that the crowd was uplifting, optimistic, proud, loud, and driven for change. I can also tell you that the people beside and around me were incredibly diverse. Women, men, and those who are gender non-conforming and/or transgender from all walks of life, from all ages and all races, religions and ethnicities walked alongside one another, unified by two basic principles 1) their belief in human equity and 2) their belief that the current government regime threatened human rights. I can recall the sounds of the march as we chanted insulting rhymes about Trump, but we also sang “lean on me” across hundreds (maybe even thousands) of people at a time.
Yesterday, individuals became a movement and strangers became family.
Out of all the things that happened yesterday, out of all the things it could mean and should mean for us and the way our government listens to the voice of the people, I wish to tell one story… A story about my new family.
I started off the day with my husband, younger sister and best friend. We woke up early and sang happy birthday to a girl named Ann on the metro as we rode into the heart of the city. We walked passed the capital and stood a block away from the main stage, on the corner of 4th and Independence (fitting, right?). However, at one point, the crowd around us became too tightly packed and I could feel the panic and anxiety rising in my throat. I begged us to relocate to the side of the street. It ended up being the best decision we made all day, for as we squeezed our way from the center to the side, we emerged in front of a jovial group.
Dina–a warm happy woman with a loving smile and a compassionate energy–welcomed us to their section of the crowd, calling them her family. She introduced us to her 10 sisters, cousins, momma and auntie. This “family” welcomed us, calling us cousins and Eric their “nephew.” I was instantly struck by 1) their willingness to accept us amongst the packed crowds and pushing people and 2) the diversity of the women in our family.
Our race, religion, sexuality, nationality, ability, age, and local homes all differed, but our spirits were collective. This alone was beautiful… but what was more incredible than the blend of identities and lived experiences in our family was the revelation that we came from all of the corners of the United States, from different lives and stories all moving at different places and at different times to collide together for this one moment in this one section of this massive half a million woman march in the nation’s capital
We laughed together.
We ranted together.
We problem-solved our nation’s future together.
We gave advice to each other
We shared our few snacks around to re-energize each other.
We took selfies together.
We held onto each other.
We told each other our stories.
We cheered on and supported each other when one of us got tired or grumpy or needed to smoke but wanted to quit.
We stood in awe of each other.
I truly believe that in those moments, standing together in this one moment in history, we symbolized a unified American family
In those three hours of waiting for the march to begin down Independence Avenue and towards The White House, this family solidified my belief in that people can come together and love one another, no matter what our differences may be, no matter which shackles hold us down, no matter what monsters resided within us, no matter what path our lives have led us down. We loved each other because of these differences, because Black Lives Matter, because immigrants are welcome here, because love is love, because Muslims are a people of peace, because age is just a number, and because women’s rights are human rights.
I walk away from this experience reaffirming the belief that a light shines within us that unifies us, that propels us forward into goodness instead of backwards into hate. And my family yesterday defined again for me that feminism that isn’t intersectional is simply white supremacy, and confirmed to me that the patriarchy could indeed be smashed but only in the face of community and love and resolution.
I started off the day with my husband, younger sister and best friend, but I ended it with a new family. And as evening fell last night, I wished that everyone could have joined our family, could have seen the comradely and felt the love…
But then I remembered, that everyone is a part of our family, and they could feel this love too.Indeed, the love I felt during the march is not just reserved for me, it belongs to all of us because…
We are one family.
And as a family, we can overcome what divides us, celebrate what individualizes us, and love strangers as we love our mothers, fathers, sisters and partners.
I will hold this lesson close over the next four years and beyond and I hope you too, dear reader, can take this lesson too. I truly believe that this family–our family–was the greater reason for my participation yesterday.
Thank you, Women’s March, for teaching me the value of family.
And for those of you who read this far, enjoy this photo of our family, taken by a friendly man watching the rally from atop a tree. 🙂