“What is the point? Isn’t it a waste of time?”
“He’s still going to be President. It’s not like you can change that.”
“Have you seen some of the people that go to those things? Do you really want to be around them?”
Raise your hand if you’ve heard these questions in the last several days. In fact, go ahead and raise it if if you’ve asked one of those questions. It’s okay. We get it. We see why to some the protests do not make sense from the outside. But if you disagree with what you see happening to our country right now and you genuinely want to know why January 21, 2017 was so important, please allow me to shed some light on a movement we hope that you will ultimately join in whatever way you can.
We march to show dissent. It is for the same reason that you vocally vote “nay” when it’s clear that the “ayes” have it. We are not marching against one man, but against the policies and practices that he voluntarily became the champion and face of. We disagree with those policies and we march as the beginning of a commitment to obstruct them, because any other choice is a sign that we consent and agree with them.
We march to raise awareness. Rarely has that small phrase - raise awareness - been as effective of a tool of political warfare as it is now. This new leader is easily distracted by the reflection of his own image. Raising awareness wounds him in a way that is real. We want him upset. We want him to know that we do not yield. Because the longer he is focused on us, the less real damage he can do.
We march as a sign of solidarity. So many wounds have been inflicted upon our American family and the healing will not be immediate. Your cause may not be my cause and your views will absolutely differ from mine, at least in part. But on the idea of justice, on the idea of kindness, on the deep conviction that we deserve better than this, we will stand together and find a way to begin that healing so that the real work can start.
We march to grieve. Our grief is not about a competitive loss. Our grief is the understanding of what this country has lost and still stands to lose. Are we sad to watch a beloved President leave the Oval Office after serving us proudly? Sure. But our tears are much stronger as we watch hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan flood the streets of our nation’s capital in celebration. The pain is real.
We march against hate and to comfort those already being victimized. Our hope is that every person of color will know that ALL of us will fight for your rights as if they were our own. That every Muslim will understand that there will exist no registry without ALL of our names listed on it alongside you. That every Jew will see ALL of us repairing any temple that is vandalized. That every LGBTQ individual will know the love and support of ALL of us as you continue to demand the right to live proudly.
We march as a demonstration of the power of women. You have not weakened us with your acceptance of sexual assault as the cost of doing business. You have not silenced us as you declare your intention to control our bodies for your own political gains. You have not shamed us as you flood our government with men who do not respect us. We see you. Our daughters and sisters see you. You fight to subdue us for the same reason that other countries will not educate or employ us: because you see our strength as a threat to your own. We will prove to you that you were right to fear us.
We march because the world is watching. Allies and enemies alike observed as we allowed this to happen. How their perception of our country must have changed over the past several months. Some are now fearful of their own safety. Some are now mocking our perceived folly. Some are now influencing our government from within. We want for our allies to understand that this group of hatemongers does not speak for us. We need for our enemies to take note that this has not depleted us. And, Russia, since we know you are watching, we need for you to witness the hundreds of thousands that will pore into the streets...and none of them have strings for you to pull.
And, finally, we march because this weekend commemorates our Inauguration too. This is not an isolated event. This is the launch of a growing resistance. There is no cavalry that will save us, no obscure law or procedure that will protect us from ourselves. We are the ones we have been waiting for...and the wait is now over.
Shawna Vercher is the President of Democracy Legacy, the nation’s first political action media network. You can get involved at www.DemocracyLegacy.com or reach out to start a conversation with her personally on Twitter @ShawnaVercher.