I recently came across a photo of myself taken at the first Women's March that felt oddly unrecognizable. Physically, the image didn't look much different than what I look like today, save for some ill-advised bangs that I'll go ahead and blame on 2016 election stress. But even though my outer appearance is essentially unchanged, there was something undeniably different about the person in that photo: she was fired up, with energy to burn. Sporting a massive pink coat and a homemade sign made enthusiastically the night before, the girl in that photo — yours truly — had a p*ssy that was ready to "grab back," if you will.
Since that photo was taken in the earliest days of 2017, it feels like we've all collectively aged about a million years — at least, it certainly feels that way to me. My eyes now have permanent bags from staying up until the wee hours of the night, stress-scrolling through Twitter to see if our president has threatened nuclear war (again). My inbox, once almost exclusively occupied by retail subscriptions and Netflix emails, is now a hoarder's nest of online petitions and protest sign-ups. The year 2017 was, in a word, long.
While some important battles have been won since the inaugural Women's March, there have also been plenty of demoralizing moments, too. Neil Gorsuch secured a spot on the Supreme Court, white supremacists felt empowered to march openly on Charlottesville, VA, and it seems the ocean is now on the verge of possibly becoming a glorified oil refinery. I would be lying if I said that it wasn't a pretty disheartening year. It's nice to declare that "Love Trumps Hate," but it just hasn't felt that way lately, you know?
The act of resistance is not about the instant gratification of political wins. It's about the slow, painstaking business of eradicating hate and preserving democracy.
So when I saw an invite for a 2018 Women's March in my city pop up on my Facebook feed, my initial reaction was not the same unbridled enthusiasm I'd had in 2017. I briefly considered maybe sitting this round out and staying inside a warm apartment instead of hitting the streets in the middle of January.
Then, during one of my now habitual late-night Twitter binge sessions, I was reminded why that's not an option. I stumbled upon a saying that Barack Obama apparently likes to repeat fairly often, a paraphrase of a quote that's attributed to Martin Luther King Jr.: "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice."
The truth is, the arc of the moral universe feels really, really, really long right now. It's easy to get frustrated — and even easier to deal with that frustration by emotionally distancing ourselves from what's going on in the world around us. But the act of resistance is not about the instant gratification of political wins. It's about the slow, painstaking business of eradicating hate and preserving democracy. In the scope of history, a year is less than a drop in the ocean. To sit out a march — or any opportunity to speak out — would be a betrayal to the generations who marched before us so that we could have the right to protest at all.
Staring at the 2018 Women's March Facebook event again, I made an attempt at remembering what it was like to be the energized, determined girl in that photo from the year before. I remembered the peaceful feeling of standing in a giant crowd, surrounded by smiling toddlers perched on their parents' shoulders and older couples walking hand in hand. The anger that I'd let build up during the entire election cycle melted away for those few hours, replaced with something I hadn't felt much of in a while: hope. If so many people could band together in peaceful protest all around the world, I was sure that we were going to be OK.
So on Jan. 20, I will be marching again in New York City to revisit that same feeling of hopefulness. My pink coat will be pulled out from the depths of my closet again, and I'll have whipped up another homemade sign to proudly carry down the streets. I'll be doing my part to re-create that same loud noise of resistance we created during the first Women's March. Because even if the arc of the moral universe takes longer to sway toward justice than we'd like, losing hope isn't an option. I'll be there for as many marches as it takes — it would mean the world if you joined me, too.