For the last few weeks, I have been contemplating what happened at the Women's March in DC on January 21st. I attended the march with my seventy-five-year-old mother and my twenty-five-year-old daughter. The march was a moment when the three of us found ourselves in a distant city, pressed on every side by angry human beings. Even though I am a touch claustrophobic, from the beginning, on the packed train (sardine-like train car), in the train station (wall-to-wall chanting people), and along the crowded streets, I felt at ease, I will even say comforted, by this sea of diverse folk. We were, all five hundred thousand of us, marchers in spiritual unison. Many of us were motivated to travel here by our profound frustration, incredulity, fear and disbelief. We had been in a state ever since Presidential election night. We came to the march because we all felt unmoored, unable to fathom a future. We came to get our bearings and our game plan. And we came for commiseration.
Ever clever and passionate protest signs expressed our outrage. But also many placards reflected our commitment to love, compassion, justice, and truth-- the values that keep America America. In this crowd, every kindness, every smile felt like camaraderie. And after so many months of bitter divisiveness, this wholesale alignment of purpose felt like a return to center. After the long (nearly too long) string of eloquent and passionate speakers, the wholesale alignment of purpose began to feel a lot like hope.
It was a deeply meaningful day for all three of us--Baby Boomer--GENX--Millennial. We felt a part of something so huge as to be overwhelming, so important as to qualify as a monumental shift. It wasn't until we reached our hotel that we found out about the other marches world-wide. My text messages were full of pictures from Los Angeles, Houston, Austin and from my youngest daughter, attending school abroad, who marched with a lively crowd in Dublin, Ireland.
By the time we reached our hotel room, I had my legislators' numbers on my phone's "favorite" list and their email addresses in my contacts. I had resolved to be a part of solutions that protect hard-earned rights for people of color and for women and for immigrants and for the poor.
Then...the day after the march, we had the brilliant foresight to visit the new National Museum of African American History and Culture.
This museum. THIS. MUSEUM.
Affectionately referred to as the Blacksonian, the NMAAHC is a marvel. It is a wonderment. It is a life-altering experience. You can think you that know your history. But do you KNOW your history? I learned SO much in the hours we were there. But somehow, ever since I saw her speak at the march, I was, at the NMAAHC, especially drawn to that spot that featured Angela Davis' story. So much of her message, all the way back to when she was an outspoken, undeservingly incarcerated member of the Black Panther Party, continues to speak precisely to where we find ourselves now, when so much rides on this Presidency, when so many have already lost their rights and many, many more stand to lose theirs.
Lately, I have been using words like revolution and resistance a lot, because this political environment requires it. We are called to be fearless, and we are called to remember. But most of all, we must hold feet to the fire-- those who we voted into office to represent us. Though she said it decades ago, Davis' words are still correct:
"We live in a society of an imposed forgetfulness, a society that depends on public amnesia."
We hear so much right now about outrage fatigue and our inability to sustain our efforts. We have allowed those in power to treat us as if we have no ears and no memory. She was also right when she said:
"Justice is indivisible. You can't decide who gets civil rights and who doesn't."
We cannot claim to be a nation of the people. We cannot be the moral standard holders of the world, when we are willing to allow whole groups to be excluded and deported. Within the span a few weeks, we already look nothing like ourselves and the picture is worsening by the day. People are suffering at the hands of someone who claims he wants to make America great, only to rob it of its greatness. And so we must decide that Angels Davis' words will be our anthem:
"I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept!"
And what does that mean in the context of this moment? Again, I call on the words of Ms. Davis:
"What we need is more unemployed politicians!"
Often, in the face of the constant barrage of news reports about the unreasoned, irrational, self-serving actions currently taken by our elected officials, I am without words. Fortunately for all of us, Angela Davis never is!
Here are ways to get and stay involved:
The Women's March and HUDDLE effort- a list of actionable items to do in the first 100 days of this Presidency, including local gatherings.
Indivisible- The practical guide to resisting the Trump agenda. You can also sign up for their email about local ways to participate.