Yesterday could have been a historic event. It wasn’t – in spite of what the new administration might have you believe – not when we put yet another white, Christian male in the most powerful office in the country.
But today was.
Today, hundreds of thousands (maybe even millions) of women around not only the country but also the globe stood up, rallied, and marched for women’s rights, civil rights, and human rights in the face of what might have been the most devastating blow to our country in a very long time. Sure, we were all upset when Hillary lost in November, but the panic didn’t necessarily set in until that dreadful man was confirmed as our 45th president. It was not until we really realized what the extent of the damage he might – and could very well – cause so many people, not only in America but all over the world, that we decided to stand together against him on his very first full day in office.
The impact was so powerful that although it started as the Women’s March on Washington, it spread in a ripple across America, into Europe and Asia, even to Antarctica! Despite it being called a ‘women’s march’ or a ‘sister march’, it wasn’t just about us ladies – it was about minorities, about access to health care, about immigration and so much more. It was about standing together in this fight – not just today but for the next for years (at least).
While I kept my Snapchat updated throughout the rally at Lansing, Michigan (our capitol), a lot of people were posting on Facebook and all over social media about why they were marching. It wasn’t until I was at home again after the fact that I really had a chance to think about all of the reasons why driving an hour, standing in muddy grass with my socks soaked and my toes cold, and being jostled by too-many-people as they tried to navigate the close quarters of the rally seemed worth it to me. I suppose, like a true classicist, my reason for marching was three-fold.
I’m a Double Minority
Not only am I a woman, but, surprise surprise, I am also a black woman, which, in the past, has not led to the best of situations. Already are women and women of color harassed, marginalized, underpaid, underrepresented, silenced, discriminated against – the list goes on and on. But knowing that, somehow, a man who has been taped saying things which imply sexual assault (i.e. ‘grab ’em by the pussy’) and a man who is and has been against allowing women to have the power to make their own choices about their own bodies were elected into the highest office of the land makes me physically ill. Knowing that those same men, who also support the safety of police OVER the safety of citizens of color (re: the concern should be more equal imo), don’t see the need for stricter gun control, and have made it known that they support ‘stop and frisk’ procedures that encourage racial profiling, are calling (most of) the shots. It makes me nervous. It makes me angry. It makes me want to get out and do something every single day.
My Friends and Family
Even if my friends and family didn’t agree with me politically, I would care about their rights. I would care if their rights were seriously threatened by a corrupt and evil man sitting in the highest office of the country. I would care if they felt afraid, or hurt, or angry, or depressed. I stood up for them, and will continue to stand (though not literally) for them for the next four years, or until we know for sure that our rights as women, as citizens, as human beings will not be infringed upon.
It is appalling to me that anyone could honestly look at our 45th president (who shall remain unnamed), look at the things he has done, the lies he has told, the cabinet he has chosen, and the utter lack of knowledge of any aspect of the American government and not see how wrong of a choice he was. How, even if they don’t see that, anyone could not see that so many people’s lives – people who they might even care about – are going to be affected in a serious way. You can already see who might be the first targets: people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ, and Planned Parenthood. I sincerely hope that anyone who continues to actively support this man will look around one day and ask themselves if they’d really be okay with seeing any one of their friends’ lives fall apart because of him.
Although my tenure as a PhD student lasts far beyond the confines of this presidency (I hope), what concern me in the here and now are the choices that are being made about Education in general. Not only is Betsy DeVos nearly as unqualified for her position as our newly elected president is, but there has been talk that many programs and funding for these programs, including Arts and Humanities ones, are under threat as well. One particularly striking bit of news was that the Heritage Foundation is considering defunding the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, because the “government should not use its coercive power of taxation to compel taxpayers to support cultural organizations and activities.”
Whether or not this action will be carried out through the new presidential administration, and whether or not this will directly affect my education in particular remains to be seen, but the defunding of NEH especially could pack a punch since its grants typically go to cultural institutions like museums, archives, and libraries, as well as colleges and universities. Moreover, my interests academically are in academia and in museums, so if funding for those areas falls through under our new president, who knows what the aftermath could look like.
It is only day one and we have so much work to do. One can only hope that our voices will be loud enough for someone in that dreadful administration to hear us and help us maintain the equality and love that thrived in the last eight years. Today was amazing and eye-opening, but the fight isn’t over. Never forget: love trumps hate.
+ More photos from today: