Momentum is gaining around the country for the Women’s March on Washington taking place on January 21, 2017. There are hundreds of sister marches taking place in alternate cities for those who can’t make it to D.C. I am excited to say that I will be attending the march in D.C. and can’t wait to live tweet my experience and share it with you.
Underneath the excitement of rallying for the (collective) march(es) are some genuine concerns. What will the march actually accomplish? Are women of color being adequately represented? Will we be able to sustain an effective focus after the march is over? What exactly are we protesting?
Critics of the march believe we need to have all these answers before the march even begins. The old me would have agreed. The current me is more understanding, because she sees herself reflected back in the evolving situation. Let me explain…
The incoming administration’s agenda has been a huge shock and wake-up call for many. We have been forced to acknowledge that progress doesn’t come in an onward-moving battle. It takes a few steps forward and a few steps back. We can no longer accept that milestones reached in the past will stay behind us. We have to continue to fight like hell for the rights we have earned in the last few decades and figure out new methods to accomplish our goals.
We are adjusting. It will continue to take time to formulate a clear and concise way forward. But there are some things we DO understand:
- There is an intense urgency to stem potential damage the incoming administration can cause.
- The popular vote proved we are a majority, and we have to start acting like it.
What can be interpreted as confusion surrounding the Women’s March is, to me, a beautiful example of people sorting themselves out and reorienting to a new reality. Just as I am. I don’t have the answers. I don’t know what is going to happen. I don’t know if marching will make a difference, or if it will be sustainable. What I do know is that I need to show up. I need to learn. I need to be around like-minded individuals to gain greater knowledge. I need to support others and be supported by them. I need to network, build connections, and witness the power of a connected effort. I need to experience the event with my own senses and the answers will come. Community. Trust. Faith. Hope. Solidarity. Action.
In 2015, I walked with an LGBTQ friend in the NYC Pride March. It was a special day because the Supreme Court had just ruled on same-sex marriage and the atmosphere was euphoric. Marching started out as an act to support my friend and ended up becoming one of the most joyful and loving experiences I’ve ever had. To be a part of that group, to feel the love and challenges and energy, to see thousands of supporters lining the sidewalks, created an almost indescribable emotion in my heart. On days when things seem hopeless, or when I am filled with anger, I recall coming upon the Flatiron building that day with the sun breaking through the clouds and what felt like the whole world cheering us on. So many people. So much love. So many like-minded individuals. In that moment, anything felt possible. The memory causes my mood to change immediately. It is important to remember there is more love than hate in the world.
I am a woman. I am a woman of color. I am wife and a mother and a sister. I am the daughter of Indian immigrants. I am a woman in tech. I know what it feels like to be marginalized on a regular basis. I know what it feels like to have your voice diminished by fear and prejudice and your needs deemed inconsequential. Like many women, I have learned to identify it. Like many women, I struggle when dealing with it. Like many women, I usually handle it internally, privately.
#WhyIMarch has become a powerful way for people from all walks of life to express their perspective on issues shaping their past and those that will shape the next four years. Many speak of personal experiences, supporting family members, standing up for the rights our ancestors fought for. Many speak of advancing specific causes and promoting underrepresented groups while setting a good example for their children. I am marching for all those things, but I am also marching for me.
Why? Because I need it. Because, in order to make it through the next four years, I need to feel uplifted. I need to believe we can make a difference. I need to feel the power of the large, determined crowd gathering at the U.S. Capitol and around the world on January 21. I need to understand where I fit in this movement and how I can contribute. I need to give love back, or I will break.
When we talk about the female experience, we often speak of the inherent challenges women face when standing up and asking for themselves. So I am going to do it right now. Let me tell you #WhyIMarch. I march because I need it. #IMarchForMyself.
*Originally posted on Medium, January 9, 2017