I woke up unusually early on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. At around 8:15 a.m. I walked up to the checkout counter in Walgreens with 4 poster boards and more sharpies than I could afford.
“School project or are you going downtown?” asked the cashier.
“Downtown,” I replied.
He smiled. “Awesome. Good luck.”
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At around noon, myself, my roommate, her mom, sister and another friend of ours walked to the closest CATA bus stop. After waiting anxiously for 15 minutes, the #1 bus finally came into view. I stepped up to the curb in anticipation, but the bus didn’t even slow down as it passed the stop. Full.
Another #1 bus drives by 15 minutes later. Full.
We decide to take our chances finding parking and drive downtown ourselves, bringing along a girl we met at the stop who was traveling solo.
The warmer temperature was accompanied by fog, and it was not until we were just a few blocks away from the Capitol that it came into view. What you couldn’t miss, however, was the sea of people donning pink pussyhats, holding their poster boards and making their way down Michigan Avenue to the Capitol grounds: women, men, children and even dogs. There was an irrefutable energy in the air.
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Between 8,000-9,000 people gathered at the Michigan State Capitol to stand in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington D.C. and the other sister marches being held across the nation and the world. We listened, we yelled, we cheered, we booed and despite not believing there would be a literal march in Lansing, we marched.
Donald Trump said in his inauguration speech that he was giving America back to the people. Well we, the people, showed up by the millions in marches around the country, around the world, to make our expectations clear. Some of the many reasons we marched: we do not believe that building a wall is effective immigration reform. We believe in climate change and want to invest in sustainable energy. We believe that #BlackLivesMatter. We believe that women’s rights are human rights. We believe that LGBTQ rights are human rights. We believe that every child deserves a quality education. We believe that indigenous land should be protected and that #WaterIsLife.
Harsh criticism came from both women and men in the days that followed. There were posts from women claiming the marches didn’t represent them. Many claimed no one protesting knew what they stood for. I must disagree; the beauty of these marches highlighted our ability to come together in support of all the marginalized groups of people that fear this new administration. The march was to stand against bigotry in all of its forms.
But this is not to say that the marches didn’t face criticism from within—they did, and deservingly so. While the “pussy” rhetoric may have been a direct response to Donald Trump’s actions and a means to reclaim the word, many criticized how it failed to be inclusive to the trans women who are now at further risk. As a whole, the voices of those most marginalized were not centered, but drowned out by the voices of white women who don’t fully understand how important it is for women of color to have their voices be supported and elevated.
With that said, Jan. 21 demonstrated our ability to fight for what we believe in together. It was the catalyst that will hopefully propel the resistance needed to fight the administration these next four years, and beyond. What we can do is learn from this experience, take care of ourselves and get ready for the next event.
Emily Reyst is a senior majoring in professional writing. Outside of writing for ing, she interns for the Broad College of Business Marketing team and the Women’s Center of Greater Lansing. She was once hit by an airborne pizza box while driving her moped. Follow her on social media for updates in real time. Twitter: @accio_avocado Instagram: emilyreyst