On January 20, Donald Trump was sworn in as the President of the United States, and on January 21, women and allies marched on Washington in support of women’s rights. It was a huge event, with about 3 million people marching in sister marches across the U.S. and around the globe. It was a tremendous and empowering gesture, but if you want to be politically active, it can’t just end there. Here are three other steps you should take after the march.
Photo source: ABC News
1. Stay informed.
There have already been multiple important events since the inauguration and the Women’s March. On his first full day in office, President Trump signed three major executive orders withdrawing the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, imposing a federal hiring freeze, and reinstating the “global gag rule”, which prevents international organizations from receiving U.S. federal funding if they provide abortions or even information about the procedure. Then on Tuesday, he signed more executive orders reviving the controversial Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, and on Wednesday he signed still more restricting immigration from Syria and other countries. It can be overwhelming to keep up with such an overload of information, but while marches are great for creating momentum and drawing attention, it’s also important to pay attention to all the background noise that can impact your life and those of others.
The presidential election isn’t the only election that matters. Midterm elections will be held on November 6, 2018. A lot of people don’t pay attention to them, but they’re critical: if you’ve ever wondered how the Republicans managed to control the House and the Senate during the Obama years even though the Democrats took the White House, look no further than the 2010 and 2014 midterm elections. Youth turnout is abysmal for these crucial elections: only 20% of eligible 18-to-24-year-olds voted in 2014. Again, protests get a lot of attention, but if you really care about making your voice heard in our democracy, it’s really important to show up for the boring, less flashy events too.
3. Stay in the conversation.
What happened on Saturday was literally huge, but it’s not enough to just pump your first and go aw yeah, sisterhood, solidarity, kumbaya! Franchesca Ramsey, who recently gave a talk at UC Davis, noted critiques of the marchers for not being more inclusive towards women of color or trans women; previously, there had also been controversies surrounding accessibility for people with disabilities, the removal of language in the march’s mission statement that was inclusive of sex workers, and the decision to partner with pro-life organizations. I bring these up not because the march wasn’t important or empowering, but because standing together isn’t going to be enough if we aren’t also talking to one another other. If you want to be a better ally, listen to other voices. Have conversations with the people in your life, including those you may not agree with. Learn from each other.
Cover photo taken by Kevin Mazur.