A few days before this year’s Women’s March, I had the following conversation with friends:
Me: Are you guys going to the March this weekend?
Friend 1 (sighs): I’ll probably be pressured into it.
Friend 2: I might join for 15 minutes, but generally have problems with marching as an effective vehicle for nonviolent change.
Friend 3 (overhearing this angst): WOW, if Gloria Steinem could see this going down...
The Women’s March in 2017 was so cathartic, so moving...so surprising to see that show of support across the country. We were (are) in pain and community felt so good as we pulled ourselves out of the wreckage. And one year later, when bigoted policy begins to have its impact, we have every reason to rally, be one front, keep pushing for our rights.
And yet, for this year’s march, my thoughts turned more to whether my participation would mean anything. What was MY involvement really achieving when I haven’t spoken to members of my OWN family who voted for Trump about how damaging and toxic I find his administration? Could I, in good faith, go, “this is what democracy looks like!” when I haven’t called my legislators like I said I would?
I wondered whether my participation would perpetuate the liberal-white-woman style of progressive views that turn the handle on the lethal jack-in-the-box that is oppression. I was drowning in hypocrisy. What does intersectionality look like in a deeply homogeneous small town?
I’ve marched 3 times in my life, once against President Bush’s war in Iraq, once at a rally for marriage equality and last year’s Women’s March. And with the exception of the last, I felt awkwardly fraudulent. I look around and wonder what people are doing AFTERwards to make things happen, because I know that I go back to my life, do my best to educate myself, sometimes - but not often - make a donation (like I did with ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and Equal Justice Institute after the election), or offer pro bono work for a new nonprofit.
Here’s what else I try to do that feels like it's not enough:
- “be a good gay” as my friend, Sean, would say, being visible, out, and kind
- make sure my niece is praised for her intelligence and not just her beauty
- read/consume everything I can get my hands on that reflects an identity outside my experience (Claudia Rankine's Citizen, Howard Zinn's A People's History of the U.S., There Goes the Neighborhood podcast, Sherman Alexie's anything, Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow...)
- lift stories of marginalized voices through my work
So. Drop in the bucket. If the moral arc of history bends towards justice, I need to find better pliers. Because I am a MAJOR work in progress and these feelings of hypocrisy are stifling the evolution.