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Why I participated in the Women’s March (and what I learned from it)

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On January 21st, 2017, I participated in an event that will shape how I think about the world and who I am as a person (and a woman) for the rest of my life: The Women’s March.

Sometime in November (post dooms-day, I mean…election night), I started hearing about the event on Facebook. The first time I read about it, while I had no idea how large the event would become, I couldn’t help but keep turning the idea in my mind. Something inside me just knew: This is going to be big. This is going to be part of history, and I need to be a part of it.

I wondered if the event would catch on and spread to other cities, but for awhile there was no way of knowing that for sure. While Omaha did protest the day after the election, I was surprised that we had it in us then – could we do it again? (For those who aren’t from here, Omaha is a tiny blue dot in a big red state. It’s hard sometimes to remember that the majority of the state did in fact vote for Trump.)

While I wondered at the state of Omaha, I also reached out to my friends who I knew would be interested in the march. One lived in New York, and very quickly the idea formed in my mind – I could visit her (which I’ve been longing to do) and we could also go down to Washington D.C. together to participate in the march. THE MARCH.

Done.

Fast-forward to that weekend, and I had a whirlwind of traveling experiences. Flight to New York, subway to her apartment, MegaBus to D.C., multiple Uber trips to and from our Airbnb. Not going to lie, I was a little bit motion sick by the end of it all, but it didn’t matter – we were in the nation’s capital and there were pink pussy hats EVERYWHERE.

I realize that we were probably in different parts of the city, but it felt like all of Washington D.C. was consumed by people protesting and ready to march – I legitimately do not know where Trump supporters were at. Either they were so outnumbered that they didn’t stand out, or they simply weren’t there (hence my theory that they must have been somewhere else – I’m a realist with this stuff).

We couldn’t get close enough to hear the speeches during the rally before the march, but I throw that into the category of good problems – that means there were so many people, so many MORE than expected, my heart burst just thinking about it. Standing in the crowd, chanting with the crowd, marching with the crowd – it was energizing and uplifting.

When I cast my vote for Hillary Clinton on election day, I was surprised to find tears welling up in my eyes as I walked out of my polling place and got into my car. I’m not usually one to get emotional (especially about politics) but I felt the importance of my vote – I was full of hope and full of purpose, and so certain in the rightness of what I was doing.

That feeling of hope came crashing down on election night, and again the tears rolled down my face, but for a very different reason. I fully admit that I was not used to that feeling (and I’m sorry for joining the party late – I wish I was paying attention sooner).

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And so, I marched. And while I know it’s not enough, at least it’s a start. Here’s what I had to say about it on that day:

Here’s the really neat thing about our country – just as it’s important for our leaders to peacefully transfer power, it’s equally important for citizens to exercise the right to peacefully protest. To say, “Hey, something here isn’t quite right. We need to make it better.”

Yesterday, we saw the peaceful transition of power from the Obama administration to Trump’s. Today, in DC and all over the country, we see the peaceful protests occurring because a lot of people believe that something here is not right. For me, that includes a few things. As a journalism student, I see a president who does not respect truth and dangerously fabricates his own version of it, disregarding credible sources and misleading those who trust him. As a human who likes our planet, I see a president who continues to deny science and ignore the dangers of climate change. As a woman, I see a president who has disrespected and assaulted my gender with no sign of remorse and an administration that threatens my reproductive health and my right to choose what’s best for my body. And as a member of this country, I see a president that would rather continue discussing the divide in our nation and the “winners” and “losers” than start to unite us under one flag and help us heal.

So today, I’m marching in solidarity with those who refuse to normalize a president who is anything but presidential. Let’s show the world what we’re made of when we join together to stand up for what’s right.

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I know this is not enough, but at least it’s a start. When I marched, I felt the same hope that I did when I cast my vote. I felt optimistic, which was refreshing and revitalizing. While I am disappointed in the current administration, I am hopeful because of the spark in the resistance. I am hopeful because of the energy of the opposition. And I hopeful because of the change I’m seeing in myself.

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