On Saturday, hundreds of thousands of protesters will converge on our nation's capital for the Women's March on Washington. The event is expected to be one of the largest demonstrations in American history, bringing together people of all genders, ages, races, culture, political affiliations, and backgrounds, sending a message to Donald Trump and our new administration to "affirm our shared humanity and pronounce our bold message of resistance and self-determination." I will be joining the march.
I march as an outlet for my rage and sadness. I want to be with my sisters in the streets as we publicly mourn the futures that were stolen from us when Russian interference and American misogyny issued their one-two punch to deny us our first female president. I want to punch back, loudly refuting the lies our country has been sold about who is worthy of respect and dignity. (Hint: it's more than fucking cis-het, white, wealthy men.) I want to shout my outrage from Capitol Hill to the White House, Park Slope to Oakland, Chelsea to the Castro. Sea to shining gay-ass sea.
I am angry.
We're in for a tough battle over the next four years. The fight will be both exhaustive and exhausting as we struggle to protect our civil liberties on all fronts. In spite of this, we cannot back down. The alternative — accepting our changed state as the new normal — is unacceptable. I cannot and do not accept that the next leader of our country is someone who finds it acceptable to grab women "by the pussy." Who threatens the press, cozies up to white nationalists, and fearmongers against immigrants. This is not a man who needs to be "given a chance." This is a man who needs to be told "no" loudly, early, and often. I march to say no to Trump and everything he stands for. I march in wholehearted rejection of Trump's racism, authoritarianism, and corruption.
There's no better time to act than right now. (Except, you know, yesterday. And the day before. And all the days before that — oh, God, how and why did we ever end up in this fresh hell?)
I'll be honest: The Women's March did not get off to a great start. It was launched by white feminists with little organizing experience, and the founders bumbled through a series of racially insensitive, cringeworthy mistakes before wising up and connecting with women of color. Guided by a diverse national committee and an experienced team of national cochairs, they quickly corrected course. The policy platform released this past week is a beautifully intersectional, radical vision. I stand in proud solidarity with these values, including that women's rights are human rights, and gender justice is racial justice is economic justice. As Audre Lorde once said, "I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own." I march for the freedom of all women.
To me, this march is an important symbol of our resistance, strength, and, most important, our ability to learn from each other. One thing to keep in mind as we move forward: While there is power in the act of protest, by itself it is not enough. Donald Trump's presidential bid was successful in part because of the never-ending media spectacle it created; undoubtedly, that swirl will continue after the man takes office. This is a distraction, and if we attempt to fight spectacle with spectacle long-term, we will never be successful. The bar for Trump is too low, and the cost for us is too high. We need to make our point and quickly pivot our collective focus to governance. I march to strengthen my resolve for the next four years — because truly, that is where the real work will be done.
As a citizen, I pledge to stay engaged, calling my representatives and keeping the pressure on. As a writer, I pledge to use my words for good, thoroughly thinking through the issues and speaking truth to power. As a femme, cisgender, mixed-race woman, I pledge to recognize my own privilege and wield it as a weapon in the fight against injustice. And as a queer person of color, I pledge to be there for my both community and myself, stepping up when possible to care for others, and stepping back when necessary to care for myself.
I'll see you all out there.
LAURA MANDANAS is a staff writer for Autostraddle.