I’ve received many comments and questions about the Women’s March. I feel my thoughts are much too long for a FB post so I wrote a blog post. At this point it has been almost three weeks since the March and I am sure many people are sick of hearing about it (and politics in general), but I believe it is a topic worth ongoing discussion. Whether you wanted to march but couldn’t logistically do so OR you think the March was a bunch of angry women screaming obscenities about Trump, I would appreciate if you read my post and let me know if it helped you understand what the event was like and the impact I believe it will have moving forward.
I wrote this the day after the March so it does not take into account anything that has happened since that weekend.
The Women’s March was an immensely positive day! I was very reluctant to commit to marching in the early days of its planning because I was afraid it would just be an anti-Trump event, and while I was unhappy with the election results, I felt like that was divisive and unproductive. I had no interest in being a part of an angry crowd which may quickly turn from peaceful protesting to violent rioting. As I read about the missions and values the March was being developed on, and talked to people who were going, I became more comfortable with the message and booked my flight with just four days to spare. If you are still wondering what this March was even about, womensmarch.com provides a lot of insight. I was still nervous going in but am happy to report that it was a constructive day. The anti-Trump anger was present but the overall message of promoting ideas like equality, human decency, and simple kindness, were much more prevalent.
I think a lot of people are having a difficult time acknowledging that this March was about more than Donald Trump. “It’s the day after the inauguration, how can anyone argue it is not about Trump?!” I believe this March was inspired by the great divide in our country – a divide that showed women across the country and around the globe that there is still work to be done. Sure, there was one particular man who said many things to bring that divide to the front and center of everyone’s attention, but this event was bigger than any one person. I have seen so much disapproval directed towards the March through mainstream media and on social media. I suppose I need to develop thicker skin, but my heart sinks every time I see a post laughing at the March or criticizing it with incorrect information. It isn’t that I mind being laughed at or criticized, but it takes a toll on the psyche to have one of the coolest experiences of your life, only to have it followed up by a mass interjection of negativity, especially when it is completely groundless negativity. I believe regardless of how one person feels about the March itself, protesting is not a sign of disrespect, but a time honored hallmark of our democracy. Whenever we see people rioting and behaving in a violent, destructive manner, we all say “Can’t they just protest peacefully?” We are hypocrites if we can’t follow those thoughts up with respect for those who do protest peacefully. Estimates of over a million people gathered in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles alone and there were zero arrests or reports of violence. As Americans who respect the 1st Amendment, can’t we all agree that is pretty awesome?
I’ve had a lot of people tell me they are proud of me for marching. While this is certainly appreciated, I hardly feel like I did something worth being proud of. Countless women paved the way for us to get to this point, at a time when it was much scarier to do so and they had much more to lose. I am very fortunate to be a part of this movement at this time. I marched feeling very safe and supported both by the people who were with me and by my friends and family at home. I find it quite perplexing to see people posting on social media, wondering why we are complaining when women in the U.S. have it so good compared to other women around the world. Women all around the world marched for ALL women’s rights! Humanity has progressed at an exponential rate since it began and we are looking to continue that forward advancement. There is no reason to stop running as we approach the finish line.
I was fortunate to spend the weekend with a great group of women. I suppose I should really say I have been very fortunate to marry into a family with a great group of women. I spent the weekend with my sister-in-laws, nieces, some new friends, and a couple of nephews who were brave enough to hang with us crazy women. It was a very positive environment with a wide range of ages and experiences. We flew/drove in from Detroit, New York, and Los Angeles.
I think the first moment where it started to hit me how big this was going to be was when we went to a Michaels on Friday to buy sign making materials. There was literally a display in the front of the store with poster board and American flags. The line was wrapped around the store with women buying poster supplies. Not to toot my own horn, but I’m pretty proud of my sign. I was not comfortable bringing my girls to the March but wanted to include them in some way. Say what you want about Hillary, but I loved her quote to all the little girls in her concession speech. The picture of Amelia was just too perfect, plus I figured if there were angry people, who couldn’t stop and smile at her cute face? I just hope Fiona won’t be too bummed when she gets older and realizes she wasn’t featured!
Traveling into D.C on the Metro from Arlington was an experience in itself. We were packed into the Metro like sardines and at every stop more people would try to pile on. I felt so bad when we had to tell people we couldn’t make room for them whenever the train doors opened, like we weren’t being inclusive, but with so many already on our train including some disabled and elderly, it was a matter of safety at that point. When we arrived at L’Enfant Plaza, it was overcrowded but everyone was patient. We slowly streamed out of the station onto the packed streets. I had never seen so many people and it was a pretty incredible sight.
We walked a couple blocks to Independence Ave which was the gathering place. We passed many law enforcement officials, both military and police, and stopped to thank them. The crowd was indescribably massive. It restored my faith in humanity, being surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people all sharing simple acts of kindness and support throughout the day. One of the best parts of the day was “sign watching”, an alternative to people watching. There were so many good ones! People were all going up to each other asking to take pics of each other’s signs. I’m not going to lie, there were a lot of anti-Trump signs, but I did not feel like that dominated the theme of the day, which was discussing issues people were passionate about ranging from women’s issues like equal pay and reproductive rights, to other general human issues like climate change and immigration. The election results inspired everyone to mobilize because of Trump’s extreme views on some of these issues but I truly felt like the focus in the conversations shifted off of him and onto us and what we could do to promote change where we felt it was needed. I think it’s also worth noting that there were many other smaller “workshop” type events available to activists across the entire weekend which focused on specific issues and how to move forward with the progress once the march was over and we were all back home. Our group didn’t attend any of those events, so if anyone did, please let me know. I would love to hear about them.
There were some spectacular speakers. America Ferrera gave one of the first and most passionate speeches and pumped up the crowd. Gloria Steinham inspired us all when she told us there were people marching across the entire country and on all 7 continents. She shared that Berlin wanted to remind us that they tried building a wall, and it didn’t go well. A woman from Flint, begged the country to remember that her city has been without clean water for more than 1,000 days. Alicia Keys set the crowd on fire. I think my favorite speaker, however, was Sophie Cruz, a beautiful 6-year-old immigration activist, who not only delivered a speech more eloquently than most adults could manage to, but then repeated her entire message in Spanish. Regardless of your opinion on the topic, I challenge you to Google this kid and remember that immigration reform is not just about statistics and numbers, it is about human beings.
While so many of the speakers were fantastic, the program went way over schedule and people started to get antsy. We were excited when it was finally time to actually march, and walked down Independence Avenue and through the National Mall, before making our way over to Pennsylvania Avenue. We concluded in front of the White House, where the protesting was unsurprisingly more anti-Trump than it had been on Independence. We found a drum circle with cool energy and hung out there for a bit. We saw Trump’s motorcade pull up in front as he returned from giving his speech at the CIA headquarters. There were some chants of “not my president” as he was getting out but “we need a leader, not a creepy Tweeter” gained more ground. Many people left their signs to line the fences around the White House but because mine had a life size photo of my daughter, I held onto it.
Throughout the day our group had split up and gotten separated in the crowd. I started the day with a group of 17, by the time I reached the White House, I was part of a group of 5. We got something to eat and slowly made our way back to Arlington. When we arrived back at the house, we had a great time reconnecting with the rest of the group, swapping stories, and checking out the news coverage.
Finally, just when I thought the weekend was over, I had one more punctuated moment when I checked my email as I was waiting to board my flight home the next day. I am incredibly honored to share that I was offered a legal internship with the U.S. Senate this summer in Washington, D.C. I eagerly accepted and am now planning the Fiordellisi family’s biggest adventure to date. Thank you to my sister-in-law Maria (Wayne Law alum!) who lives in Arlington and has graciously opened her home to my family for the summer.
All in all, I felt pretty crummy after the election but am feeling very encouraged moving forward. I still find it difficult to respect President Trump but I respect our country and its processes so I do acknowledge him as “My President”. I have an open mind and challenge him to earn my respect, and the respect of all Americans, whether they voted for him or not, through his actions over the next four years.