I didn’t want to go to Washington.
I don’t believe any of us did.
Getting on a bus at 1:30 in the morning for the five-hour pussy pilgrimage to DC to march in unity against assaults on [insert female and/or marginalized community of your choice]’s civil liberties, freedom, and safety back, say 30-50-100+ years, give or take, was not on the top ten list of anyone: white, black, brown, rich, poor, educated, old, young, privileged, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, secular, male, female, cis, or not.
But policy trumps (sorry) comfort, so there we were. One thirty in the morning in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, loading two buses of leery, weary women, children, teens, grandmas, and a handful of men – signs in hand, comfortable shoes, pink hats and clear backpacks, climbing aboard.
Our Tweeter-in-Chief, elected freely by the fine people of the United States who chose not to vote at all, white women who catapulted him into power, and the unqualified assistance of his Soviet colleagues, has we-the-people scared shitless.
So I got on the bus.
We arrived in DC, one of the first buses corralled at JFK Stadium before the estimated 1200 buses arrived from all America, and made a pre-dawn trek downtown, the sidewalks and subways not yet clogged with rioters as known in the media, constitutionally protected privileged protesters in real life.
White women woke late to the resistance, something people of color, particularly women of color have been fighting, are continuing to battle, every minute of every day of their life. And the lives of their moms before them, and their children after them. Their resistance never officially started because it never ends.
Sorry we’re late. Inexcusable, I know, but we’re here now, and I will do my part to take my privilege and use it to the best of my ability to open roads for those not benefiting from being white and middle class, and work diligently to set up road blocks for those hell-bent on making America hate. I won’t say ‘again’, because it’s clearer than clear that hate is and always has been alive and well in America, only now, with our hate-monger leader, racism, sexism and all the -isms has federal permission to come out of the closet, and be proud, public, and prolific.
Ashamed and outraged, in DC, I discovered I was not alone, and became connected, empowered, encouraged. There is power in the people, in all the people.
This was not a white woman march, but it was absolutely predominantly white women. People of color were there, everywhere in fact, but not enough, and for this I am truly sorry because we the people includes all the people and not fighting for black and brown lives is exactly what we were there to protest and we must do better and fight harder. I will do better. I promise. Do you?
People of all sorts of colors, ages, and stages converged in DC – lots and lots of middle-aged white women, absolutely true, but also, millennials, teens, young moms with babies tied to their backs, grandmas, great-grandmas, and men: dads, grandpas, teens and tots, all together to let it be known:
Trump’s despicable policies and promises are un-American
We were some of the first to arrive in DC, with no lines on the metro, plenty of seats, and space on the sidewalks once we emerged from underground. We found the main-stage just about 7 am, the mob in front already ebbing and flowing like one being, much too crowded for us, so we squirmed out, hid behind for a bit, then went to grab a coffee since we had three hours to kill before the official kick off began.
That was our mistake.
The coffee was great, the company stellar, four Newtowners linked yet when we tried to make it back, we were swimming in a massive whirlpool of empowered pink protestors. We just got into the current, and road the river of humanity through the streets, stepping out every now and then to take it all in.
We never even heard a speaker. We never saw a band. What I did hear was this, over and over:
“Is this the march? Are we marching? Is this it? Is that somebody famous? Are we going the right way? Is this the march?”
Everyone was wondering the same thing out loud. Inside, I was wondering, will this make a difference? Are people watching? Do they know we’re here? Are we trending? Are we on the news?
Cell service was clogged like the streets of DC; I took very few photos and couldn’t access maps or text, tweet, or talk. The two chargers I brought were not enough to document everything that was taking over Washington, and later I learned, cities all over America. All over the world.
It lifted me up, held me close, propelled me forward.
We were members of a not-so-secret club: some people may call it the pussy club, I call it the people club, because there in DC, with streets clogged and mall mobbed with people churning and wandering in every direction, like atoms bouncing off each other, set into motion again and again, gaining energy and power, not knowing where we were going, where we would end up, but so glad to be there together.
Not alone any more in disgust and despair, but better together, thousands and thousands of women and men, all shapes and sizes, colors and genders, sexuality, ages, and ability united to let our, and I do mean our, new President know that we are here, he represents us, and we will not go quietly into his version of America. We can’t. To do so would be un-American.
One of my favorite signs that I couldn’t get a picture of said:
REPUBLICAN • CATHOLIC • MARINE VET • Still not supporting racist Trump.
While people of color are still rightfully where-the-fuck-you-been-sister, and are more than patient and kind considering white women overwhelmingly voted for the new tweeter of the free world, Because white women voted for Trump so white women must work diligently every day forth, to fix this mess. Thwart the downfall of society. Stick a finger in the dike before the flood of racism, sexism, xenophobia and Trump’s America takes hold and shakes us until we don’t recognize who we were and who we are becoming. This current plan for America is not our America. Is it yours?
I was proud to be with the million of other protestors on January 21st who united their voices to let freedom ring, and pledge to let the echoes of that song become more powerful with vibrations that shake the White House and Congress until their conscience breaks free, and they too raise their powerful voice in equality, compassion, kindness, and a healthy dose of humor.
Rebecca Forstadt Olkowski
You were so smart to get there early. I thought I was early in LA but couldn’t squeeze into the subway it was so packed. I love your pics. I am pinning some to my Women’s March board. Right on sister!
thank you kindly LA!