‘Your Silence Is Your Consent’: Scenes From Oakland’s Women’s March

The march was a fleeting if potent antidote to a crushing feeling of asphyxiation and fear.

Say what you will about America’s political apathy—our collective shoulder shrugging is second only to racism in getting us a Trump presidency—but Saturday’s Women’s March saw one out of every 100 Americans take to the streets.

Meanwhile, in more than 600 sister marches in nearly 80 countries around the world—“sister” rallies to the mothership in Washington—it’s estimated that 5 million people bellowed and brandished their rage, hope, and refusal to accept the systematic encroachment on human rights.

Despite the delusional web of lies that Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, spun about this year’s inauguration turnout (it seems he’s taken notes from 1984's “Newspeak”), the Women’s March in Washington was roughly three times the size of the audience at President Trump’s inauguration.

In Oakland, my home, 100,000 protestors took up 40 blocks—as in Washington, the sheer number of humanity was so dense, no one could even march; instead we danced and hugged and wept and raged in place for nearly an hour.

The march was a fleeting if potent antidote to a crushing feeling of asphyxiation and fear. I held the hands of the women I love and live with; I thought of my given and chosen family scattered across the world who I knew were marching in their own streets, lancing their own wounds, and letting the bile gather in the gutter.

It was not perfect; far from it. Those communities of women—women of color, immigrants, trans women, disabled women, the list goes on—felt muted and ignored. Where, they asked, was the intersectionality we so desperately need? What happens tomorrow or next week or the month after, when the very same threats rear their bloody visage? (For they’ve never actually abated.) What happens when feminism isn’t the soup du jour anymore? Will these able-bodied, cis white women show up in droves for the Black Lives Matter march?

What happens when feminism isn’t the soup du jour anymore?

Today I am of two minds, and I am trying to hold both. Let us hold the joy-rage in our hearts—be thankful that so many humans showed up in an attempt at solidarity—but know that we have work. to. do.

One march does not a revolution make.

“I see protest as a genuine means of encouraging someone to feel the inconsistencies, the horror, of the lives we are living. Social protest is to say we do not have to live this way.”
— Audre Lorde


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