I put a Moleskine in the pocket of my coat but didn't take notes on the march. Let the youngsters do the heavy lifting. The Lower East Side Girls Club had serious podcasting and banner-making chops.
Photos by Sue Jaye Johnson
We rolled out of Manhattan on a chartered bus at 6 AM, fortified with fresh-squeezed juices, mini-muffins, and pumpkin loaves. Because the revolution serves good food and happiness is the best revenge.
The girls made people happy. They wore glitter on their cheeks and I Know My Rights tee-shirts à la Colin Kaepernick. Some interviewed marchers about their histories and beliefs, while others leaned over the barriers, boosting the crowd. When Aisha yelled through the megaphone about justice being built on the backbones of girls, everybody cheered.
Due to the historic turnout, we were bottlenecked and unable to hear the speakers or music. This was a little bit of a bummer but also a reminder of the limited nature of any one person's view.
As Sue said, "Sometimes just getting to the gig is the gig."
I saw kids from Bucknell College, Jewish and LGBT groups, a Pacific Islanders drum corps, Texans and Floridians and lots of other New Yorkers, goofballs in Harry Potter outfits proclaiming Trump a Slytherin, women dressed like suffragettes, and a weatherbeaten white couple with a sign that read "We Marched in Selma." At one point, Arielle and Jai materialized like two Venuses.
Back when I was a broke boxer, I lived in their brownstone, tutoring Arielle in French and math. Now she's all grown up and making her own movies.
I reflected on all the women who have supported me throughout my life, offering shelter, sandwiches, inspiration.
Look who else we saw! Tiara Brown, former world amateur champion, in full superhero mode. While we chatted and took selfies, Officer Brown helped a half dozen people, at one point even allowing a woman who had lost her car to get some cell phone juice from the cop van. The streets are safer with strong, community-minded police like Tiara out there. Plus she looks fierce in that uniform. Beauty is also a form of revenge.
On the bus home, the girls were jubilant over Colin Kaepernick's Instagram repost of their picture. He wrote: "It's beautiful to see powerful young women fighting systemic oppression! They are our future!" The post has over 40,000 likes, but it also has a comment thread that is truly astounding in its bile.
I don't know if the Internet has made people more vicious, but certainly it degrades discourse. And certainly it allowed Trump to rise.
Both sides are guilty of this. We lob one-liners at each other like molotov cocktails, hoping to shame the opposition into silence. But people do not learn when they are ashamed; people learn when they are calm. And you can't attack directly; you need to take them by surprise. Women are good at that.