Monday, January 22, 2018

"Make America Love Again!" Report from Women’s March 2018! #togetherweriseforjustice #powertothepolls #thepowerofprotest #riseandresist #womensmarch2018 #powertothepolls #thepowerofprotest #weneedeveryone

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This writer with some cool kids, his friend joan e and a half million new yorkers.
Photos by himself, Caroline Shepard, liz patek, and Joan E Roney. 

"The patriarchy is no longer relevant. Women are visionaries for this new century. We are the way forward.  You are gonna love it," declared my favorite sign at the Women's March on Saturday.

Biology is not destiny Mimi Abramovitz used to say in policy class. There are no guarantees of a progressive mandate from women, people of color, or any other group in power. At the same time, many of us wanted to give a woman a chance. And we lost friends for that. I have two daughters, whose future I am somewhat concerned about. The contradictions of that position are many. We hated the Iraq War, organizing against Hillary in 2008. By 2016, I was feeling like it was time to take this in a different direction. There had been 44 dudes in a row.  She was flawed, competent, disconnected  from the movement, and won three million more votes. We needed to defend and expand reproductive autonomy, family planning, healthcare. And they were under attack.

And then came the Women’s March 2017.  It was the largest, most diverse demo I have ever been to.  I have never seen so many people together connecting issues, pointing us toward a collective future, one dependent on lots of lots of women, lots and lots of high school kids, lots and lots of raging grannies, lots and lots of us creating solutions for poverty, autonomy, education, and the climate.

There have been other huge demos – the People’s Climate March 2014, the World Says No to Wary 2003.

But after the dreary and anything but peacefultransition of power and inauguration day, it was a dynamic way of exposing the gap between our system’s support for an electoral college and the will of the people, three million more of whom voted for the candidate who did not win.  Millions of people in the streets called for those in power to acknowledge their needs and demands.  They also declared they were not going anywhere.  They may have lost a round. But the war was not lost.
I have never seen such a dynamic crowd in DC. And the scene was repeated around the world. Anytime a million people get together, it is worth paying attention.

In the year after the march, women helped lead the resistance, mobilizing in the streets, joining queer people, people with disabilities, immigration, and AIDS activists pushing back.  Over the summer and fall, we mobilized to save Obamacare.  A year later, the healthcare is sill place.  The struggle for reproductive autonomy is still raging.  And women in the streets are pushing forward, running for office, bringing more people into the streets.

“I’m here in solidarity with so many of the people who usually do not come to such actions,” noted my fried Joan E. Roney, who rode the train to with us to the action.

And that’s part of what seems important about the women’s marches.  These events are bringing the unorganized  - Grandparents, high school kids - cohorts of people into the process.  

I traveled to the demo with my neighbors, my daughter, and the members of her high school activism club. They spent the week before the march making pins to sell at the march, raising money to purchase sanitary napkins for homeless women.

I could not think of a slogan for my sign, digging through facebook and brain storming.
An old girlfriend – Clare - had made a sign in LA declaring: “We are the Children of the Witches You Didn’t Burn!” for the LA Women’s March.

I told my kids about that one.

“I like it,” noted number one and her friend sleeping over.

“Women have a history of being censored and punished,” noted Lulu, explaining why she was carrying that sign. “And its still happening. We need to know that history.”

Single moms, lesbians, outsiders have long been treated as scapegoats. The Crucible seems repeats itself anew every generation.

“Sex panics, witchhunts, and red scares are staples of American history,” notes Lisa Duggan (1995). “While often promoted by relatively powerless but vocal minorities hostile to cultural difference, they have been enthusiastically taken up by powerful groups in an effort to impose rigid orthodoxy on the majority” (p. 75).   Even the Witch Trials have been described as a “panic” (Godbeer, 2005, 7).  Here, hysteria justified stifling a challenge to sexual norms which might have established more egalitarian social relations (Federici, 2004, 22).  As social mores shifted toward increased social autonomy, fears of insurrection followed (Heale, 1990).  Richard Hofstadter (1964) has come to describe this mode of thinking as the “paranoid style” of US political thought.  

“Whatever combination of guilt, sexuality, aggression, or other impulses produce the counter-subversive mindset, Americans have never suffered from a shortage of scapegoated aliens,” Ellen Schrecker (1998) writes.  In addition to the witches, the list of ‘others’ – native Americans, slaves, Catholics, immigrants – who represented a threat - is not short.  By the 20th century, communists, anarchists, queers, suffragettes, and welfare queers followed in this long line of, “substitute others” (p. 47).

As Tolstoy puts it: “It's too easy to criticize a man when he's out of favor, and to make him shoulder the blame for everybody else's mistakes.” 

Women have long been scapegoats.  Today, perhaps the greatest scapegoat is the undocumented immigrant.”  As  Agona Apell puts it, “immigrants unwittingly help to keep peace between nations by being scapegoats for national ills that would otherwise be blamed on neighbors.”

And the current occupant at the White House knew how to tap into that noxious ideology, sexualizing those fears, calling immigrants rapists:

 "They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

In the midst of the government shutdown, his handlers are praising the president for keeping us safe from "evil, illegal immigrants who commit violent crimes against lawful US citizens."

As Gayle Rubin notes, “Popular sexual ideology is a noxious stew made up of ideas of sexual sin, concepts of psychological inferiority, anti-communism, mob hysteria, accusations of witchcraft, and xenophobia”

It still stings that a real estate flim flam man is president.  But he knew how to dig into that hate and it paid off.  That’s his Faustian bargain.  We’ll see how long it all lasts.

I was not feeling as earnest, painting a sign asking: “Have you ever wondered what it was like to live under Caligula?”

Of course, the comparisons between Trump and Caligula are many. But even Caligula did not attempt to sew the kinds of ethnic discord Trump has. As Paul Krugman puts it:

“as far as we know, Rome’s government continued to function reasonably well despite his antics: Provincial governors continued to maintain order, the army continued to defend the borders, there were no economic crises. Finally, when his behavior became truly intolerable, Rome’s elite did what the party now controlling Congress seems unable even to contemplate: It found a way to get rid of him…
Midway through this August essay, Krugman pointed to the budgets that needed passing, the CHIP program that needed reauthorizing.
So who’s going to ensure that these critical deadlines are met? Not Trump, who’s too busy praising white supremacists and promoting his businesses. Maybe Republican leaders in Congress will still be able to wrangle their extremist members, who see crippling the government as a good thing, into the necessary deals.
But the revelation that these leaders were lying about health care all those years has destroyed their intellectual credibility — remember when people took Paul Ryan’s pretense of policy expertise seriously? And their association with President Caligula has destroyed their moral credibility, too. They could keep the government functioning by dealing with Democrats, but they’re afraid to do that, for the same reason they’re afraid to confront the madman in the White House.
For here’s the situation: Everyone in Washington now knows that we have a president who never meant it when he swore to defend the Constitution. He violates that oath just about every day and is never going to get any better.”
The same fate that befell Caligula hasn’t happened yet to our emperor. There’s been no praetorian guard around to end this. 

Still, the Government is shut down as I write this and one party is control of all branches of government.

People nodded and chuckled when they saw my sign.  They smiled, stopped and asked if they could take pictures.

The subway was full of people, women in pink hats filling the car.

“I’m here cause I’m praying with my feet,” noted Laurie, who was in the subway with everyone from her synagogue.

“I’m here in solidarity with everybody,” continued Joannie. “Trump is no worse than any of the other conservative president’s of my life.  But unfortunately, he is more outspoken and racist, homophobic and hostil to the environment than any of them."

The subway was shoulder to shoulder with people.

“Destroy patriarchy, not the planet,” these were the words on a t-shirt worn word by Hana, a college student on the train with us.  Many women at the march highlighted the importance of the environment. For Hana, the three issues, the environment, DACA, and Black Lives Mater overlap  as her top issues.

Hana noted she was in solidarity with women of color.  “In order to be seen, we need to continue to be loud…  As women, we need to rise up and speak up and lift each other. We’re in a society where we’re penned against each other.  I don’t feel like reaping the benefits of the country, when others are not able to enjoy the same."

“Flip seats, not Republicans,” noted Joan E, imploring us to stay focused on the issues not the people we oppose. 

“You have someone in office trying to control our uterus,” noted Jani Cauthen, who saw the father of her kids deported earlier in the week because of the chaos of our immigration system.  Our kids go to Sunday school together. 

At the rally, we  joined Rise and Resist.
Together We Rise For Justice
Rise and Resist, NYC Women’s March, January, 20, 2018

Make Noise with Rise and Resist and unite for justice at the 2018 Women’s March on NYC!

Together, we fight bigotry, violence, and systemic discrimination in all its forms, including those directed at people because of their disability, gender identity/expression, immigration status, race, religion, sex and sexuality.

Wear: As the march hits its 2nd year, we march dressed in black in solidarity with activists across the country. We encourage you to update your hats, jazz up your messages with buttons or any creative ideas that empower you and include the excluded so that we can stay and fight together."

One street over, the Revolting Lesbians were converging at 72nd street.

"Join Revolting Lesbians at the New York City Women's March on Saturday, January 20th, to acknowledge and protest the vicious murders of four lesbians in December. 

Say Her Name: Brandi Mells. Shanta Myers and Kerrice Lewis. Kaladaa Crowell.

All of these women were Black lesbians so little attention is being paid to the brutal slayings."

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Arriving at the march, the streets were clogged.  It took us an hour to move from 82 to 81st ,

“Its too mean,” noted one of the women I was standing.  “This is not the US I believe in…”

The vibe was different from the year before.

Last year, everyone was shocked about what happened in the election.

“No pussy grabbing, no patriarchy, no fascist USA,” they changed in DC.

This year, people were determined to change things and running for office to change things. 

But the indignation was still there.

“Get up, get liddy.  No patriarchy in this city,” the kids chanted.

Standing I ran into people from all over the city, Abby who used to run a sex party, Sarah playing with a marching band, Jeannine supporting her community garden, and Donald, my friend from the Church of Stop Shopping, who was marching against traffic since 42nd street.
His smile was infectious.

“I’ve seen everyone I know,” he gushed with a smile.

“Its not enough to be a feminist.  you have to do something. We were here last year.  It was a beautiful community which came together.  This year, we’re here to say its time to do something.   Put your facebook into action,” noted Lee, Megan, and Julia, who had come from a party, still raging in the Upper West Side when they left for the march. 

A theme of the protests was the intersectional nature of what feminism can and should be – a place where we connect issues, between people, around race, homelessness, immigration, the climate and, of course, reproductive autonomy.

“I was in DC for work yesterday and saw the president at the March for Life,” noted Julia. “Pence introduced him saying he’s the most pro-life president of our lives. He said we’re going to stand with you till the end.”

The crowd was not moving there were so many people. 

"You don't see any Nazis at our rallies," noted one woman's sign.
Alternately funny and defiant, the signs were thoughtful, droll, courageous, and sometimes inspiring. 

"Make America think again!"
"Be fierce,  dance and claim your power," declared a little girl's sign. 
"Inclusion, peace, equality now!"
I hope all the kids who participated look back at this march as a turning point in their lives. 

So we all talked, interviewed, took pictures and enjoyed the sunshine.

We're doing our best to get our voices out there, even if the police view protests as forces 
which need to be controlled and corralled. The police penned us in.  So the kids and I walked out, jumping through the barricades.

“We’re not cattle,” I told a policeman who told me we were engaging in disorderly conduct.
"It creates more of a health hazard to put half a million people into claustrophobic pens."

The streets were clogged like this from 82nd street down to 42nd street.

So we snuck off for a break. 

An hour later when I returned, people were still marching by.

Finally we made it back to 59th street, where marching bands were playing.
And the whole crowd simultaneously started to chant:
“Shithole!” “Shithole!” in front of the Trump Hotel.

It was good to laugh for a second. 

In the midst of a government shutdown over immigrants and healthcare, women remind us: Make American love again.

"Shithole," we chanted as we passed Trump Hotel. Everyone laughing. 

photo and caption by Erik R McGregor:
On January 20, 2018; New York City raised its voice again to demand equality for all humans at the 2018 Women’s March in NYC. Over a hundred thousand New Yorkers took the streets on Central Park West from Columbus Circle to 86 Street to send a message to the Trump administration – "We won’t stop until all individuals are treated equally NOW!".
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rise and resist in the news.
Best sign ever

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