February 7, 2017
By Jocelyn Cano
If Mother Nature was an actual woman, she would be proud of what happened Saturday, January 21. Maybe that’s why the weather was nice for a mid-January day.
There was a very energizing aura from the moment I pushed my way into the Green Line CTA train on Harlem. In my 11 years of living in the Chicago metropolitan area, I’ve never been on a train that went express. But that morning, what seemed like hundreds of people cramped together into CTA cars as we descended our way into the city.
I was joined by a friend from Concordia, in hopes of meeting up with another friend who happens to be a Dominican Alumna. We kept to ourselves despite knowing that all the other people on the train were making their way to the protest advertised on Facebook.
Upon arriving, I was almost brought to tears looking at the quantity of people that showed up. What was once expected to host no more than 40,000 people had easily gone past the attendance of 150,000. Children of all ages held onto their mother’s hands. Elderly couples could be seen intermingling with millennials. It was a sea of pink. I’m no stranger to protests, but the number of different groups of people present for the Women’s March left me in awe.
One case in particular was of an interaction I witnessed between an elderly woman and two young women. I was standing next to them when the conversation started, and being the nosy girl I am, I decided to stand there and give their conversation my full attention. The elderly woman, whom introduced herself to the two young women as Margret, began explaining her reason for coming. She said she was anticipating the Clinton administration to take office. The three women then went off to discuss the topic of Planned Parenthood and women’s wages. What I had found so fascinating about this interaction was that after walking through those issues, the women went off into topics about race. One of the two girls was an Asian woman who started explaining about the Japanese prison camps of WW2 and relating it to current times, where she thought something similar may be in effect for Muslims. Margaret took her time to ask questions and ended the discussion thanking them for educating her on the matter.
The march that took place was much bigger than just a way for women and allies to let out their frustrations and to demand equal rights, but also grew a level of awareness to other issues one may have put aside.
But even with the sense of unity and friendliness that was seen throughout the rally, I could also see how divided we all were specifically through race and what every race tends to value as importance. For example, white women wore Pussycat hats and barred signs about the government not letting them own their own bodies. Latinx women, for the majority, had signs specially targeting a positive attitude towards undocumented immigrants. Black women marched with Black Lives Matter posters while Muslim women walked to signify rights to wear their hijabs and to not be labeled as part of extremist groups. It’s not uncommon for people to support causes that specifically target their own community, but to an extent, it annoyed some people around them.
In a different case from the one stated above, a white woman held a sign against white supremacy with a sign reading “White women voted Trump. Acknowledge our own privilege”. Now, I found no issue for the sign but a few of the Caucasian people around her were throwing her the evil eye, scoffing, and at times making remarks stating that she was putting aside her own identity.
I think that’s what lead to my greatest discovery of the day: That even when we’re trying to unite against unequal rights and hateful speech, we still manage to find to fight each other.
As I boarded the train back home, I sat in an almost empty car. My heart full of hope, but my head telling me that in order to resist, we must first unite.