It was 11 am and I was wrestling with a roll of duct tape in the middle of the train.
“It’s just… not sticking!” I said to my friends, trying to put another piece of duct tape to the back of my poster. It was a beautiful day in New York City but the wind was terrible. I was nearly confident my poster would fall off my stick as soon as we got outside. As we pulled into Grand Central and shuffled into the nearest subway, only one thing was on my mind: the Women’s March.
The Women’s March was my first protest and I didn’t know what to anticipate. I knew a good amount of women who had gone before and said the experience was irreplaceable, but that didn’t mean it would be the same for me. I was afraid of challenge- that is, people attacking my beliefs. I wouldn’t know how to react. Who would be there? What would I have to face? I knew that my friends, fellow advocates and first-time marchers, sympathized with me. There have been too many times in history where marches and protests are violently disrupted and made fun of.
We emerged from the crowded subway station and streamed onto the street. I was immediately enveloped in a wave of pink Pussy Hats. My friend shrugged and launched her “I support my sisters, not just (cis)ters” poster into the air. While feminism is an engaging and well-established cause, there are still many who go into the protest ill-educated. The bulk of society often forgets or fails to recognize self-identifying and trans women, despite the fact not everybody who is female has a vagina, as activist Rowan Blanchard and Instagram user fairyfagelene echoed in Instagram posts. We walked along the street to the beginning of the march. We were almost at Central Park, which was along the march’s route, when we were stopped by a barricade. There were so many people they couldn’t let us all in at once! We waited under the shadows of 71st street’s buildings, and I took this standstill as a chance to look around me. There were people everywhere, thousands in front of us and thousands behind. A girl stood on her father’s shoulders and chanted with the crowd. Middle-aged women dressed in pink introduced each other and took pictures of each other’s posters. Banners of all kinds were launched into the air, thousands of which called for Trump’s impeachment. Last year’s protest was to empower women after Trump’s inauguration. This year’s march was made to take one step further and call for his resignation.
I looked at these women and saw myself in all of them. Our generation would grow up to become these women. There will always be somebody to wave the flag of feminism and empowerment. It’s our job as a generation to make sure that flag never gets folded and put away. As women registered to vote with advocates on the sidelines of the route, my friends and I adjusted the “2020 voter” signs around our necks. I felt at home among the masses, screaming chants like “Hey hey, ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go!” and “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!” There was a certain strength well highlighted in the women’s march, both metaphorically and physically. I felt a sense of unity with these brave women, men, and non-binary protesters ready to defend gender equality. However, there’s also strength in numbers- more than 200,000 people attended the women’s march this year. I’ve never been more proud to say that I was a part of history, one that I am confident will lead to astounding change.
It’s our job as our generation to make sure that flag never gets folded and put away.
As my group finally departed from the protest, we took a second to look at the street. Across the street, in one of the many nice apartments facing Central Park, two young girls waved out a window. They had taped up a sign that said “Thank You”. I gazed up at them and smiled. No, I thought, thank you, because you’re going to carry the torch next.
This post is part of a series: Teen Eye Take To The Streets. Read about Chloë helping a family after their daughter got lost in a crowd, Em almost skipping the Women's March altogether, and Furqan taking the international approach.