This is What America Looks Like

This weekend, I flew to Washington D.C. to participate in the Women’s March on Washington. Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, this isn’t a political post. If you don’t want to hear about my experience, that’s OK. If you do, keep reading.

I rarely sleep when I’m home in D.C., and this weekend was no exception. Friday, instead of watching the inauguration, my BFF Alana brought me to her friend’s house, and four of us brunched until 6 pm. If you have not brunched until dinner before, I definitely recommend it. Then, I caught up with Kathryn, a classmate from high school who I haven’t seen since graduation day. Bed time, roughly midnight. Here’s a great photo of Alana with her pink pussy hat, holding a pussycat. Mishmish is not super thrlled about being in this photo.

women's march on washington, oh jen darling

Saturday morning, we got up and Alana had to work, so I braved the Metro to try and meet up with a few people. And by a few, I mean over half a million of my closest friends. The trains were so packed, I couldn’t get to the station I needed to.

women's march on washington, oh jen darling

By lunch, the crowd stretched from the Capitol to the Washington Monument down Independence Avenue, and from Maryland Avenue to the Mall. I hung out on 7th and Independence for most of the day because I just couldn’t get any further. Of the dozens of people I tried to connect with, I managed to find my friend Rob. At the end of the day, I helped Alana set him up for a semi-blind date on Saturday night.

women's march on washington, oh jen darling

(This photo was taken at the end of the day on the White House lawn. But this is Rob. He’s awesome and adorable. He also has a second date!)

women's march on washington, oh jen darlingwomen's march on washington, oh jen darling

At 2:30 we finally turned down 7th and crossed the mall, stopping to stare at the sea of pink hats and posters. Between the monument for our first president who secured the freedom of a fledgling country and the halls of our national legislature, over half a million voices would not be ignored.

women's march on washington, oh jen darling

Afterward, across the city, and at other cities around the world, signs from the protests were left as monuments to the raw emotion, the frustration, anger, hope, and support that over three million people felt. These collages are irresponsible on one level because it does make more work for someone else. At some point, they all have to be cleaned up. But Carrie Fisher said, take the broken pieces of your heart and turn it into art. The broken pieces of the hearts of three million people are on display for the world. 

women's march on washington, oh jen darling women's march on washington, oh jen darling women's march on washington, oh jen darling

There are two things I want to say about the march. First, it was a beautiful, peaceful, joyful, uplifting experience. Sure, there were people venting frustrations and carrying some pretty brash signs. But even as we waited for four and a half hours for the actual marching to take place, everything was calm and under control. Not a single person was arrested out of over 500,000 people. This is incredible.

Second, this is an awakening for our generation and it only matters if it turns into action. I did not participate in any of the anti-Trump stuff because that’s not why I went. I don’t think it’s helpful and yelling “not my president” does nothing to make me feel any better. But hearing the issues that my fellow citizens have, and finding ways that I can get involved in my community, can help to make a difference.

women's march on washington, oh jen darling

I went this weekend because I believe that women shouldn’t feel unsafe walking home alone. Women shouldn’t be paid less than men for the same work. Women shouldn’t lose their jobs because they get pregnant and can’t come back to work after giving birth. We are the only major country in the world that doesn’t have federally guaranteed family leave. Black people or other non-white groups shouldn’t be treated differently by police or by the justice system for the color of their skin. Freedom of religion is the bedrock of this country, and anything against that is un-American. There are more reasons that have an impact on many other groups.

I don’t see how wanting everyone to be equal and everyone to be treated equally is controversial. The fact is, it isn’t. What’s controversial is that people DO treat each other differently based on race, gender, appearance, religion, or a hundred other biased reasons – and now they’re getting called out for it. It’s been ok to act this way as long as you didn’t realize you were acting this way or you did it unintentionally. The problem is we are hopeful, and we want to believe that people are genuinely good. Many are, and many aren’t. We can’t leave things open-ended so the people who are selfish and disregard others can do anyone harm. Including those who cannot stand up for themselves.

women's march on washington, oh jen darling

Remember that golden rule: treat unto others as you want to be treated? If we all lived by that, our country would be in a good place. But we don’t live by it, and we don’t take the time to see someone else’s perspective. I challenge you to do that this week, this month, and this year.

Saturday bed time, 2 a.m. Wake up, 4:45 a.m. I told you, I don’t sleep in D.C.

At the gatehouse at 6:30 am on Sunday morning, a Trump supporter wearing a Make America Great Again hat sat next to a Women’s March protester and they had a lovely conversation about their weekends in DC. It gave me a bit of hope that we can all be friends, we just have to be willing.

women's march on washington, oh jen darling

One thought on “This is What America Looks Like

  1. jsbh

    Amen: “Remember that golden rule: treat unto others as you want to be treated? If we all lived by that, our country would be in a good place. But we don’t live by it, and we don’t take the time to see someone else’s perspective. I challenge you to do that this week, this month, and this year.”

    Reply

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