Through this election cycle, election night, and the inauguration, it became easy to allow ourselves to fall into despair about the state of our country. African Americans, Muslims, Jews, Latinos, refugees, women, and the LGBTQ community were all spotlighted in the election and treated as though their diversity is little more than a liability, as proven by misleading statistics, false stereotypes, and sensationalist headlines. And on inauguration day, many of us heard and saw our fears legitimized. Within a matter of only a few hours, some of the greatest issues that these populations face became non-issues for this administration. However, the very next day, these same people found an amazing way to fight back: to march in solidarity with all of our fellow dissatisfied and marginalized Americans, many of whom we tend to ignore while wallowing in our own states of affairs.
I heard about the Women’s March on Chicago roughly a month ago on Facebook and immediately knew that I had to go. I was not going to protest the results of the election – I went because I am incredulous and tired of seeing that anytime an unfamiliar group materializes or ends up in a headline, that group must begin an immediate PR campaign to prove their humanity and their American-ness. Doesn’t everyone deserve some measure of security and freedom? Apparently not. This election cycle reminded us that this pattern is far from old news. I also went to the march because it finally felt like I was doing something to impact those around me in a positive way – it may not be significant, but it was one more person to add to the crowd.
Now that the protest is over, I realize that there was one other reason for me to go. I needed to see that even though the current political and media climate is so volatile, that I’m not the only one who is afraid, angry, and ready to scream and shout at every sign of injustice. I needed to see that solidarity and I needed to feel that community and love to find the strength and hope to resolve to fight back. I needed to see that solidarity just as much as I needed to show that solidarity.
The rally and march were truly a sight to see – nothing can bond hundreds of thousands of strangers from all over the Midwest the way this rally did. We were all marching for different reasons, but in the end, there was only one reason: that the phrase, ‘We the people’ includes all of us.
The amazing thing about marches and protests and rallies like this is that they do not necessarily bring immediate policy changes, but still make an enormous difference. They allow those who are tired and angry and hurting to see that they are not the only ones. They bring us all closer together and this community of absolute strangers strengthens us all. It reminds us of why we want to stand up for justice and equality, no matter how hard the fight is. It pushes us to fight harder for future generations and it makes us fight the good fight.
Most importantly, it shows us that there is so much more to be done and that this is only the beginning.
Mahira Musani is a first year law student in Chicago.