Last weekend I marched with 750,000 of my closest friends in the Los Angeles Women’s March.
By “march,” I mean excruciatingly slow shuffle. It took about an hour before the crowd started moving, and during that time it felt like I was just standing in the world’s longest taco truck line.
The entire route was smashed with people and eventually they had to open up other streets to allow us to do what we came to do.
The activist in me swelled with pride. The introvert in me wanted to curl up in a ball and scream, “Stop touching me!!”
I didn’t hold a sign. I’m not sure I’m a sign person. There were a few times I wished I’d made one – like when news helicopters flew overhead and people raised their signs and cheered. Instead, I awkwardly raised both fists above my head and pumped them back and forth, like I was a silent film actor who was cursing the heavens.
Regardless, it still felt good.
Thanks to my very diversified Facebook feed, I’ve seen a lot of support about the Women’s March, but also a lot of questions, a few self-proclaimed “rants,” and one or two cruel comments (which make me immediately log out and self-medicate by watching videos of puppies playing in the snow).
I’ve seen people say that these marches were full of complainers and sore-losers, and even that they were un-patriotic.
But let me tell you, last weekend was the most American thing I’ve ever done.
I was invoking one of my civil rights. A right I didn’t realize held so much power until I was a part of it.
Before the march started, we sang the national anthem. If you’ve never been surrounded by 750,000 people singing the national anthem, I would highly recommend it. Shivers gave way to near full body convulsions and I couldn’t believe I was standing there, an active part of the biggest march in U.S. history.
I’m not a sore-loser. I’m a concerned American who is using her voice. I am so lucky to live in a country that lets me do that.
Right before the march, one of the leaders took the microphone and screamed, “What are we marching for!?”
Silence fell over the crowd until one guy yelled, hesitantly, “Equal rights?”
Leave it to the liberal Californians to have no clear message. My grandma would say that’s probably because they’re too busy loving strangers and “smoking drugs.”
At first, my Midwest upbringing kicked it and I felt a little annoyed. We need a plan, we need to stick to that plan, and we need complete obedience!
But then another person yelled into the silence. “Protecting our environment!” And another “Health care!” And another. “For my immigrant grandma!” “For my daughter!” And on and on and on – a great big messy message of hope.
After posting the obligatory Facebook photos of that day, I had a friend – who has very different political views than I do – ask me (in a kind and respectful way) why I had marched. What was it that had inspired me to get out and walk?
For me, the reasons I marched couldn’t be summed up with a clever sign or a single thing to yell when someone asked me over a loudspeaker.
It felt so much more complicated than that.
I marched because I’m concerned. I’m concerned about women’s health care, I’m concerned about climate change. I’m concerned about the way women have been spoken about and treated this election cycle.
I marched because I’m privileged. I’m lucky to be safe. I’m lucky to have access to good doctors and regular check-ups. I’m lucky to have a husband with whom I feel safe and by whom I’m loved. Many women aren’t as lucky and their basic needs are marginalized and ignored.
I marched for the people who disagreed with me, because they could march too if they wanted, and that’s an incredible thing that our country gives us.
I marched for myself. Because sometimes I feel so helpless and it’s important to remind myself that I’m not.
I marched because sometimes you just have to go out, raise your fists, and remind our leaders that you’re here, you’re awake now, and you’re not going to close your eyes anymore.
See? That’s way too much to put on a sign.
This piece was originally written for the Fargo Forum. You can find them (and me) here.