Columnist Nicole Brodeur went to Washington, D.C., to participate in the Women’s March over the weekend. Now, she’s focused on what’s next.
I spotted him passing through security at Sea-Tac. Couldn’t miss him, really, in his red “Make America Great Again” baseball cap.
Yeah, well … good for you, I thought. Probably headed to Washington, D.C., for the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump. It was really happening, and if it made you happy, great. Godspeed.
I was flying to Philadelphia, where I was meeting up with my oldest friend, then busing down to Washington, D.C., for the Women’s March on Saturday.
Once on the plane, I spotted The Man in the Red Cap, right across the aisle with his wife and infant daughter.
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And all around us, women. College students and newlyweds, middle-aged and elderly. Some were strangers who became sisters-in-arms before the beverage service even started.
They stuffed protest signs in the overhead, pulled out pink yarn and turned around in their seats to share their disbelief and frustration, but also their hope for what this March might soothe — and inspire.
And they fussed over that baby. Praised the mother’s attentiveness and offered advice about teething and getting her to sleep through the night.
All the while, the man watched and listened. He had removed his hat, and at some point he stuffed it into his bag.
I don’t know if he didn’t want people to see it. But I sure hope he saw what these women were: loving, supportive, smart, accomplished —- and completely at odds with his new commander-in-chief.
So we were taking action, leaving our homes and comfort zones to be part of something that — not unlike Trump’s election — no one imagined would be so massive.
More than 650 “sister marches” in every state in America — and on all seven continents. We are not alone in feeling this way.
So we walked the walk.
Now, though, is the time to really get moving.
In her speech to marchers in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, feminist icon Gloria Steinem described the phenomenon this way: “Sometimes we must put our bodies where our beliefs are. Sometimes, pressing ‘send’ is not enough.
“… This is the upside of the downside,” Steinem continued. “This is an outpouring of energy and true democracy like I have never seen in my very long life. It is wide in age, it is deep in diversity.
“Make sure you introduce yourselves to each other,” she said, “and decide what we’re going to do tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, and we’re never turning back.”
This is not a New Year’s resolution that is made in the bright light of celebration, repeated the next morning and then, over time, gets flimsy and soft and is shrugged off before springtime. This is a new covenant. A commitment. This is the time to turn away from our screens, to look at faces instead of posts, to speak and act upon words instead of just typing them.
This is wading into unfamiliar territory. This is digging deep into who you are, what you believe in. What you want to stop or save. What kind of place you want to live in, and what kind of place you want to leave when you’re gone.
Filmmaker Michael Moore told the crowd in D.C. that he had joined Planned Parenthood that very morning.
“Join every group!” he said. “Let’s make these groups huuuuuuge.”
CNN’s Van Jones talked about watching former President Obama fly off in a helicopter after Trump’s inauguration.
“I felt like something beautiful was dying,” he said. “But today, something beautiful is being reborn … Just because somebody made a bad vote, doesn’t mean they’re a bad person. We’re going to fight for them anyway.
“When it gets harder to love, let’s love harder.”
So what does that look like?
The organizers of the Women’s March in D.C. have launched a campaign titled “10 Actions in 100 Days,” with suggested acts of civic engagement.
First up: “Write a postcard to your senators about what matters most to you — and how you’re going to continue to fight for it in the days, weeks and months ahead.”
My friend Laura has adopted a family from Syria and has invited friends to help out for an hour or two every week, just spending time with them. Kids are invited.
Activists in Seattle are mobilizing.
Another friend sent me a link to something called thisismyoath.com, which allows you to find the issue you care most passionately about, and find all the resources you need to act.
On the bus back to Jersey from D.C., I looked out the window and spotted car after car filled with women, pillows flattened against the windows, feet up on the dashboard, protest signs visible out the back window. Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut.
We were all exhausted. The planning, the traveling, the standing in line. The crowds that churned, or were so big, they barely moved.
Didn’t matter. What they did was galvanize us. No one who marched is the same.
Across the aisle from me this time was a young woman in a wool cap, headphones snug around her neck. Remy Barrows is 23 and a printmaking student at The Evergreen State College. Her sister was seated a few rows back. Their father had paid for their airfare and hotel to attend the D.C. march.
“I feel like it’s going to affect my artwork, especially,” she said of the experience. “It’s been hard to make artwork because I fear being criticized. So seeing so many women who want to support everyone. …”
She stopped and started to tear up. She apologized. No need.
“I feel like I have more bravery to speak my mind, and it’s because I feel more united, even internationally, with women. And I’m going to be more honest with it, and be less afraid.”
After a few minutes of quiet, she asked to make a change to what she had told me.
“It’s not less afraid,” she said. “It’s more brave.”
The March was clearly over, but something new was beginning.
What it looks like is up to us.