The Women’s March knows that movement building is not efficient. It can not be made smoothly instrumental. It involves building relationships, changing habits, listening to people. It involves nurture and unpaid work. It means grooming local candidates, turning slow-moving democratic institutions, and learning policies. It also means protests, music, stories, art projects, par-tays and feels. The strident attempts on the part of the administration to deny how many of us were out there yesterday is not their biggest lie, or even their most important lie. But it is a lie in direct response to how important they know our numbers were, a response to how important our resistance can and will be. We’re going to have setbacks and failures, going forward. Of course. That will never mean that yesterday wasn’t important.
Maybe someone asks you, “well, what did the protest accomplish?” Where are your bullet points? Isn’t your sign associated with your bourgeois self-interest? Or maybe an activist who was out there pounding the pavement before Nov 8 gets grumpy at the Women’s March — because he thinks we didn’t do enough before, or did the wrong thing, or because people weren’t woke enough before. OK. Keep listening.
We can and will make specific policy demands. We are some of us middle class. We must stay the course. We must hold on tighter to the movement than to being right. We are going to have to listen to each other’s anger. We need the frustrated seasoned activists, just like we need newly activated young people. We need historians and we need new ideas.
Just don’t let anyone deflate you, because we need all of us.
We will all have moments, going forward, where we are pissed off at our sisters and brothers, where we don’t want to call anyone or do anything, where we are out of money. We’ll have to do what we need to do to recover from those moments. We have to practice self-care and friend-care, so we can keep going, keep calling, keep marching, keep reading, keep fundraising, keep listening, keep teaching, keep playing music and keep running for local office, if we can swing it.
I’m talking to myself here. I did a bunch of calls and donations and teaching and letters and then have been grinding slowly into paralysis since the election. Sotto voce, between times, I have been talking with friends about the waves of despair. Yesterday was energizing. I needed it. I’m going to need to look back on these pictures — of crowds and rainbows and bandannas and stilettos and strollers and wheelchairs and walkers and pink hats and moms and dads and full on intersectional allies of all stripes holding signs for every goddam issue I care about from all around the goddam world, all these millions of people standing up for our commitment to a better tomorrow — so that I can fight another day. I have seen my daughter chanting “Black Lives Matter,” “Education Not Deportation,” “My body, my choice,” “el pueblo, unido, jamás será vencido,” and singing Katy Perry with a fabulous LBGTQ activist in a rhinestoned vest. Amaze balls!! I think my favorite sign I saw from D.C. was: “First they came for the Muslims… And we were like, NOT THIS TIME MOTHERFUCKERS.”
Not. This. Time. The white nationalists are also on the rise around the globe. But we are stronger, and we are stronger together. My daughter’s sign, which she chose, said: “Tell your sister that she’s got to rise up” and “This is not a moment, it’s the movement.” Onwards, my lovelies. Rise up. This is the movement. So much is going to suck. But yesterday was about all of us steeling for the fight. We chanted each other’s chants and raised our signs together. I saw you. I heard you. I introduced my daughters to some of you. And that will sustain me for a while.