The weekend before last, I traveled with F.R.E.E. Aggies to Houston to take part in the third annual Women’s March, while womxn around the country protested in their cities. The Women’s March started on Jan. 21, 2017, as a response to the Trump presidency, when nearly four million people from around the country denounced everything his administration stood for. Every year since then, we have marched for everything under the umbrella of human rights.
For me, the march and rally was a way to connect with others who experience the same anger, frustration and fear I feel. Many women and minorities have lived in a state of indignation their whole lives, which only heightened with the 2016 election. At the march, those women and minorities surrounded me, and it was liberating to be heard and validated. It was a start to plucking out the weeds of oppression and injustice growing rampantly throughout our country.
Sadly the rapture was short-lived. When the rally ended and people trailed back to their cars, lowering the signs and stripping off various pink or rainbow accessories, nothing in the outside world had changed. The mirage of camaraderie faded, and I once again only saw destitution when I looked at the path ahead. The issues we rallied against still thrived.
I tried not to feel discouraged, convincing myself many battles and many potential victories still lay ahead. The truth is, however, fighting relentlessly with no assurance that we will succeed is soul-crushing at times. Activists spend hours picketing in the cold, talk to representatives until their voices grow hoarse, tirelessly organize events, write letters and deliver petitions. But sometimes, at the end of the day, the dark clouds of doubt roll overhead. They cast a shadow that taints any sense of accomplishment as you ask yourself, “What if it still doesn’t make a difference?”
Such fears are not unsubstantiated. Protestors in Standing Rock, North Dakota, withstood rubber bullets, tear gas and streams of freezing water, only to have the pipeline built regardless. It eventually leaked 380,000 gallons of oil, bringing to life the Sioux tribe’s worst fears. Defeat seems to be the only outcome lately. Vital bills keep coming to a standstill. Evil men continue to be appointed. Politicians ignore young voices. The federal government separates families. Costs rise and people suffer.
Yet we can’t give up. The small victories we have seen thus far are due to activists and their relentlessness. To say that our goals are unattainable and stop fighting would be to take an arrow to a bare chest. Activists who vigorously denounce inequality are the only form of armor shielding our democracy from injustice.
I have only been politically active for about five years, and I’m already tired and frustrated.
I can only imagine how people who have been fighting for decades feel. When we are feeling near-hopeless, we look for solidarity and reassurance. That is why we still march. That is why we still picket, protest, organize, stand up and speak out. When times are at their worst, we collectivize so we can put forth our best.
Activists organized the Women’s March to be a bolded statement. A message written in bright red spray paint that says we are here and everyone will hear us. It is a rallying cry, to uplift the people whom society has shoved down again and again. There will always be times when reform seems impossible, but the best remedy for doubt is to gather with our sisters, so that we can look around us and say, “At least I’m not alone.”