(Written Sunday, January 22, 2017)
It’s been a weird and exhausting couple of days. Friday was Donald Trump’s inauguration and yesterday was the DC Women’s March / protest, which happened in DC but also in just about every city in America + around the world.
My wife and I marched in NYC. We’d had friends over Friday night to make protest signs (and also tacos..yumm). I made two signs, “think critically” and “pence sucks too” (both I was very proud of). My wife made all kinds of signs, like “dissent is our right,” while others did things like “Love trumps hate” and “we deserve better.” It was nice to have company, to feel a togetherness in our home, which is so rare in NYC these days, at least for us.
Yesterday brought the march. There were oodles of people sharing the train with us, all headed to the march, most with their own signs. We’d made extras, just to give out. There was an older lady on the train with us with a Russian doll / Trump sign which was really well made. She said she worked with children and that Trump’s “no puppet!” arguing was at about a 3rd or 4th grade level.
We arrived at Grand Central Terminal among hoards of people, all headed to the march. We waited for some of our friends to show up near a Starbucks on Lexington (maybe?). While we waited we gave out some of our spare signs. I also held my “think critically” sign (this was my first protest, but it seemed like a good idea) for the passersby to see. I got more nods of approval than I expected, which made me feel good. Interestingly, throughout the whole day, I seemed to mostly get nods / compliments from older people (say, over 50). I’m not sure I saw anybody under the age of 30 even react to the sign. Ah well. I tend to find the older residents of NYC fascinating, so I’ll take this as a good sign.
Earlier, on the way to the protest, one lady in Park Slope scoffed at our friend’s sign, which said “Obama Cared.” The lady asked what did Obama ever care about? to which our friend replied “everyone!” It was a mostly peaceful disagreement, but it was still nerve-wracking to me. I generally don’t like confrontation. How lucky are we, I said, that we live in New York, and that pretty much everybody already agrees with our political views. I can’t imagine having to protest in a place where my views were the exception / outlier. That’d be real confrontation.
The march itself was quite powerful. Thousands of people, of all ages, of all kinds, were marching together, slowly. We were packed in between the streets. Marching from Lex (?) @ 48th street, we glacially made our way to 5th ave, then up to 55th street (right before Trump Tower, which was heavily barricaded), over the course of about 3 hours. There were so many signs and chants and songs and people, it’s hard for me to make sense of much of it, but it was tremendously powerful and moving. People were courteous, but also quite riled up. It was a very moving experience.
Just being surrounded by so many people who cared enough to show up was truly touching. Sometimes the world feels hopeless these days, but yesterday showed me loud and clear that the world is not about to take this sitting down. There are people who want to make a difference, and they want to do so by rejecting the bad, and working towards the good. That’s a powerful feeling that goes a long, long way.
The demonstrations in DC drew possibly 3 times as many people than did the inauguration the day before. That’s a powerful statement, and a powerful act of defiance, that will not go unnoticed.