[personal profile] morganminstrel
(Note: I normally lock "personal" posts, but this one will be public.)

My lovely wife and I went to the Seattle Womxn's March last Saturday, an event held in conjunction with Marches around the country and the world. At last count, there were about 175,000 of us in Seattle alone, and several million worldwide. (As a note, that's the current count by the organizers, not city officials.) The marches were to protest the Trump administration (or, as I like to refer to him, "President" Traitor McDeadbeat) and its policies. I have a lot of things to say about that day.

1. This was my first real protest march. I've marched in a few rallies supporting causes, but I've never marched in a real protest before. And, to be honest, in the days that led up to it, I got pretty nervous. All the things like "write emergency numbers or lawyer's numbers on your arm with a sharpie," all the reports of possible sabotage and agent provocateurs, all kinds of stuff like that had me a little terrified. This was my first time, and I worried about it all. But I also knew I had to go. I had to make my voice heard. It was my duty as an American, as a feminist, as someone who is disgusted by what is happening and by what may happen.

2. As it turns out, of course, I needn't have worried. And yes, I know that this was a "privileged" march, a march that probably wasn't going to be disrupted. I accept that, and I know that if it had been a Black Lives Matter protest, or something less "reputable," things could have (and probably would have) happened. But here's the thing: It was very important that things did not happen at this march. Why? Because, for a lot of people like me, this was their first time. This was the time to break their/my "protest cherry." It was the time to gain courage to step up. Next time, whatever form that next time takes, we will be more ready. We will be less nervous, more assured. Next time, we'll be more prepared to take whatever shit gets thrown at us. So yes, I accept my first march was a privileged one. And I also accept my next march may/will not be.

3. We learned a lot of lessons this time. Simple things, like "bring a small, lightweight backpack with snacks." (I should have known that from my con-going experience!) Stretch more. Be prepared to stand for a long time before you walk. And lots of other things I can't think of at the moment.

4. We took the bus into Seattle, but then tried to wait for another bus to take us to Judkins park, where the march would start. We had, I believe, four entirely full buses pass us before we broke down and my wife ordered an Uber ride. The entire way, the driver (an African immigrant) kept talking about how he could not believe that this great country could elect "this guy." He was just shocked and so happy the march was happening, and just could not believe Traitor McDeadbeat could be elected "president." The traffic was horrendous--the area around the park was totally jammed. We got there and gave our driver a good tip.

5. It was a beautiful day--far more than the weather predicted. (Oh yes--another lesson: bring sunglasses, no matter what the weather's supposed to be.) And it was a beautiful day in every other way too. Walking through Judkins Park before the march we saw people of all shapes, sizes, skin tones. Over the course of the march, we saw people from four generations marching--from babes in arms and little children all the way up to grandmothers and great-grandmothers. And grandfathers too! It was wonderful to be in that mass of kind, hopeful, and, yes, resolved humanity. As I said to my wife while we stood waiting, "For the first time since the election, I feel just plain safe and really hopeful." It was the most wonderful feeling.

6. We were towards the front, but we still had to wait and take baby steps for over an hour before we got out of the park, which was filled to capacity and overflowing (appparently about 10 blocks overflowing.) It was at this point that my lower back started hurting. It wasn't bad, but the standing and shuffling on uneven ground definitely wasn't being good for me. We finally got out of the park, so I hoped things would get better.

7. Yes, we were there for the eagles. As we walked down Jackson street, people gasped. Two bald eagles flew out from over a building and began to circle far above the marchers. We gave a huge cheer, as it seemed to us that the symbol of America was blessing our march. They kept circling as we kept marching. And yes, I believe this was the first time I'd ever seen a bald eagle outside of zoos, so it was extra special for me.

8. It was shortly after this that the word came down--the first of us had made it to Seattle Center, the endpoint of the march. But not all of us had left Judkins Park. People in the march officially stretched all the way from the startpoint to endpoint. We gave another huge cheer.

9. At this point, it's worth noting that organizers expected/planned for about 50,000 people to show up. They worked hard to give people stickers as a way of counting. I believe I mentioned that current estimates say about 175,000 of us showed up. Not too shabby.

10. By the time we got to Westlake Center (about 3/4 of the way to the endpoint), my back was killing me, and my feet and knees weren't thrilled either. I honestly think it was the waiting at the park that did it; the route was about 3.25 miles, which I'd have no problem walking, but we spent about 2.5 hours in the park, either walking around (early on) or standing and shuffling. My lovely wife was also getting signs that her head was about to explode into a possible migraine, as well as "I can't take the crowds anymore" issues. As Westlake was an officially designated drop-out point (they had them so people who couldn't make it all the way could leave without chaos), we decided to end our march there. After waiting a long time to use a bathroom in Westlake Center, we boarded a bus and headed for home. A note about the bathrooms: there was no question of letting women use the men's room as well as the women's room. Both had toilets, after all! Reminded me of our good old unisex bathrooms at Hampshire. And it furthered the sense of community between us all in a weird way that I find hard to explain.

11. We didn't have signs this time, but plan to make them for whatever the next march is. Because I love Woody Guthrie, my plan is for one side to say, "All you fascists are bound to lose!" and the other to say, "This sign kills fascists!"

12. Am I sad we didn't make it to the end? Yes, of course I am. But I'm glad we made it at all, and that health stuff let my wife make it that far. We'll plan better next time, and we will make it all the way. (And I mean that metaphorically as well!)

13. Ok, here's the wrap-up, I guess. Am I glad we went? HELL YEAH, I'm glad we went. It felt amazing to have my voice heard, to whoop with people to feel (for the most part) like I do. It felt like I was making a difference, which was just the best feeling. I felt a part of history. I saw kids there, even babes in arms, and I said to my wife, "They are going to be able to tell their grandchildren, 'I was there.'" It was a very powerful feeling. But I don't delude myself that this march was the end-all, be-all. We sent a message, sure, but we have to back that message up with action. We have a lot of work to do--writing letters, making phone calls, and, yes, probably going out for direct action. This was my first march, but it won't be my last. Because I demand a better future. And so should you.



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