You Marched. Now What?

Last Saturday, an estimated 3.3 million at its lower estimate – 4.6 million people at its highest – gathered together across the globe to speak out against the anti-woman, anti-people of color, anti-LGBTQI, anti-immigrant rhetoric of the previous election cycle.

We showed up.

We got the world’s attention. Now is the time to work. In an interview with Refinery29, former Obama Administration Staffer Jen Psaki expressed her concerns with the Women’s March being a form of instant gratification. In order to capitalize on the energy the march created, the march must only be the beginning.

America Ferrera delivered one of the most powerful speeches of the day, stating “We refuse”:

We are gathered here and across the country and around the world today to say, ‘Mr. Trump, we refuse. We reject the demonization of our Muslim brothers and sisters. We demand an end to the systemic murder and incarceration of our black brothers and sisters. We will not give up our right to safe and legal abortions. We will not ask our LGBTQ families to go backwards. We will not go from being a nation of immigrants, to a nation of ignorance.

Yes, we refuse. How do we do that in real, actionable ways? The Women’s March’s mission demands justice and equality from the rights of marginalized communities to sex workers rights to reproductive justice, so where does one begin? The work that needs to be done can feel really overwhelming and that’s why it’s okay to begin with small, specific steps.

Thankfully, not only have people gotten mad, they’ve gotten organized. Here are just a few resources for taking action over the next four years:

This list barely scratches the surface, which is understandable, because there’s a lot at stake right now. Another great place to look is the list of partnering organizations with the women’s march.

I think it’s important to note here that, in the end, you are only one person and you can’t do it all. The best way to meaningfully contribute to the resistance in the Trump era is to strike a balance:

  • Be an involved citizen. Stay up to date on what legislation is being considered. Subscribe to a newspaper or four. Save your state and federal representative’s office numbers on your phone and make it a habit of calling on issues you care about on your lunch break. (you can find their contact information here)
  • Find a cause you’re really passionate about and LEAN IN. Activism is about specific actions and hard work. Attend rallies and training sessions, volunteer your time and money on a consistent basis at one organization.

Some things to consider:

Identify your privilege

Advocating for the rights of some, not all, is not a solution. We are stronger together.

As a cis-hetero white woman, going to a protest is not nearly as risky as it might be for a non-binary person or a person of color. This was evident in the largely white demonstrations across the globe for the Women’s March. There wasn’t a single arrest. Compare that to the demonstrations across the US when Alton Sterling was killed. Remember when Leshia Evans was detained by three officers in tactical gear while she stood calmly at the center of the road? Recognize when you have no real reason to stay at home and what marginalized groups risk to advocate for their own rights.

Image Via New York Daily News

Intersectionality is all about listening.

One of the biggest critiques of the Women’s March is that minority groups felt they were being left out of the conversation. The women’s movement is entirely undermined the second it becomes exclusive to white women. Division comes from an unwillingness to listen and learn from one another, not because people within a movement have criticisms and disagreements.  Check out this interview with Angela Peoples (the demonstrator in the now infamous photo of her “Don’t Forget: White Women Voted for Trump” sign displayed in front of a group of white women taking selfies). Cynthia McCabe’s piece on Medium compares intersectionality to the practice of triage.

What skills can I contribute? 

Take stock of your resume and specific skill-set. Where would your skills be the most effective and where are they most needed? For example, say I have experience in health administration through my job; perhaps I could find a way to contribute to organizations that provide cancer screening access for underserved areas. (Such as Planned Parenthood and Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force)

Support your local arts community.

With the laughable solution to cutting the budget being to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts (it takes up .003% of the federal budget), it’s clear that this is an act of censorship. Subscribe to a literary magazine, go to a local comedy club, see a play, buy a piece of art at a local art show.

Take care of you and yours.

In the process of writing this piece, I struggled with being overwhelmed and feeling inadequate. I can’t solve every problem, and I can’t fix every new crisis that appears each day. But I can make a difference, so long as I work hard and I don’t lose my head. Practice self-care: get some sleep, spend time with loved ones, laugh. You can #stayoutraged and find moments of love and peace in your life. We need everyone at their best right now, so it’s time to take self-care seriously.

Did we miss something? Shoot us recommendations to add to our running list of ways to take action at [email protected]

Article by Michaela Heidemann

Michaela is a staff writer for YNBF. She’s interested in historical and existential quandaries that border the profound and the profoundly stupid. She worries that everyone she loves is dehydrated, and has a cat that can’t jump very high. She lives in Chicago, IL and is working on a book nobody asked for.

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