My roommate and I took the red line train to downtown Los Angeles at 7:30 a.m. the day of the Women’s March. The station was packed. There was palpable excitement and positivity in the air. Despite the events of the previous day, people were smiling. They knew we were all about to take part in something special.
We got off the train at Pershing Square and attended a pre-march intersectional breakfast where we received donuts, bagels and coffee and picked up prints and signs to bring to the march. Spirits were high. We were surrounded by support and love.
That was the overall spirit of the day: unity, healing, hope, and even a little joy. The march was a beautiful thing, a peaceful dissent, a moment for people of all different shapes, sizes, colors, abilities, religions, genders, sexualities, classes, geographies to stand up together and make their voices heard.
But in a crowd of so many, sometimes voices get lost, people get lost, stories get lost. My friend, a woman of color, had a very different experience than I getting to the march. A white man cut her and another woman of color in line trying to reload their tap cards.
It took her three hours to get to the march. It’s important to make your voice heard, but it’s also important to listen, to make sure you’re not shouting over another marginalized group.
When we got back on the train to head home after the march, my friend, who had to fight just to make it to the march, used her “Black Women Matter” sign to save me the only seat left on the train because she knew I needed it after a day spent standing and walking. We need more of that: setting aside your self-interest to help another.
We marched in the name of progress, of inclusion, of change. It was a great first step, but it also demonstrated that we have a long way to go and a lot of work to do.
It was wonderful to see all the people who showed up to the march. Now we must keep showing up. Not just when it’s an issue that pertains to our particular interests. Not just when it’s convenient. Not just when a tyrant is the president. Show up every day. Show up to the Black Lives Matter marches. Show up for the Natives at Standing Rock. Show up for our trans siblings, remembering that “pussy grabs back” but genitalia does not a woman make. Show up. Show up. Show up. But don’t overcrowd. Save a seat for your disabled friend.
Rebecca Lessler grew up in Easton. Her father, Robert Lessler, is a town selectman and member of the Easton Democratic Town Committee. Rebecca graduated from Northwestern University in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in religious studies and received a paralegal certificate from the University of California at Los Angeles in 2016.