First, it is important for me to clarify something lest it be left to assumption. I believe in the First Amendment to the US Constitution and feel strongly that the free right of assembly should never be shunned or its power reduced. Hopefully, my writings here don’t question the medium but rather highlight my concern of this particular message.
It is estimated that millions of people (mostly American women) participated in the “Women’s March on Washington,” or one of it’s “sister” marches, around the country and globe. According to local organizers, Denton saw about 2,500 people participating in the march on Saturday, January 21, 2017.
It seems, unlike the protests and demonstrations that sporadically pop-up from time to time over the past few years, this one march was set to be more unifying, more deliberate and focused. This was not an impromptu gathering; it was planned. Though spawned from a Facebook post, the march seemed to have quickly organized into something pretty formal and direct. The website for the march is now a hub for information and resources. Despite all this effort, I can’t help believe the outcome of this will be mute. I suppose Madonna was speaking to me when she said, "And to those who insist that this march will never add up to anything: f**k you. f**k you!"
When listening to organizers and speakers detail their efforts, it seems as though the women's marches are meant to bring about change. Janet Mock said, "We are here not to merely gather, but to move." Maryum Ali was quoted, "So this is what we gotta do: don't get frustrated, get involved. Don't complain, organize... We have to start spending time... standing up for equal rights." It is clear to me that those two women (and many more speakers) want to see some sort of change occur.
The idea of marching for a change sparked me to consider past marches with goal achieving outcomes. And When I think about historical marches that brought about change, two spring to mind: the Women’s Suffrage Parade and the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. (The similarity in titles between Saturday’s march and the civil right’s march isn’t lost on me.)
However, those two important marches had something in common: focus and specificity; they rallied hundred of thousands towards one common goal. The Women’s Suffrage Parade (1913) demanded a constitutional amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote. The March on Washington (1963) demanded civil and economic rights for African Americans.
According to the Women’s March website, the demands of Saturday’s marches were eight fold. The lack of singularity in their unity will ultimately lead to a zero outcome. Moreover, the lack of singularity provides ambiguity to the rest of Americans, much less the government, as to how you would like us to respond. The simple fact that this was supposed to be an inclusive march for women but pro-life activists were uninvited questions the sincerity of motivation and the earnestness of desiring one voice. “We want to be heard, but we don’t want everyone to speak.” It seems.
I think the parade in 1913 and the march in 1963 were whole-heartedly needed and I am thankful for the outcomes they created. Similarly, if a subset of Americans feel trampled upon and need to unify their voice to be heard, then it’s their protected American right. It would simply be helpful to everyone else if we heard one bullhorn, not eight.