January 26th, 2017
This past Saturday, I was one of the millions of women and men on all seven continents who participated in the Women’s March. The march started as a movement on Facebook but quickly expanded to more than 600 “sister marches” in major U.S. cities outside of Washington D.C. and even outside the U.S. According to CNN, some 2.2 million people worldwide participated in marches from Australia to Hong Kong, New Zealand, UK, Italy, France, Germany, Serbia, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Kosovo, Georgia, The Netherlands, Macau, Mexico, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and as far south as Antarctica.
The final count for the crowd marching in my hometown Los Angeles was 750,000. It was heartening to see so many Angelinos, of all ages and ethnicities peacefully converging and marching through the streets of downtown Los Angeles. There were no police, at least in uniform, and no mayhem or looting, just happy peaceful people marching in solidarity for human rights, civil rights, women’s rights, and the health of our planet.
While we were marching in Los Angeles, hundreds of thousands of people were doing the same in the nation’s capital to show their solidarity and support for those who feel their rights may be threatened by the new administration, under Donald Trump who was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States on January 20, 2017. Tens of thousands of college students, faculty and administrators were also at the march in D.C. as they too feel their rights are under attack.
According to Madison Thomas, the march’s national coordinator for college engagement as reported by InsideHigher Education: “An estimated 50,000 students from college campuses across the country attended the Women’s March on Washington.” Many of these students had traveled from their college campuses far away to be at the march. InsideHigherEducation reports: “College women marched for reproductive rights and stronger legislation against sexual assault and sexual harassment. Some students said they were marching for the rights of undocumented immigrants, Muslims, members of the LGBT community, people of color and people with disabilities. And university professors marched for freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of inquiry and campus diversity.” Clearly, many see the current administration’s intended policies to be in direct conflict with the gains made during the previous administrations concerning women’s reproductive rights, women’s rights, human rights, and gender equality.
Participating at the march in DC, was Julie Schmid who is the executive director of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP); one of the groups that had partnered with the Women’s March. AAUP is deeply concerned about protecting freedom of expression and inquiry on college campuses and ensuring that qualify of education and accountability of educational institutions is not negatively impacted under the Trump administration. According to Ms. Schmid, AAUP had “members participating in over 600 sister marches across the country.”
Here in Los Angeles, I was overjoyed to see such a large contingency of young college- and even high school-aged women and men marching side by side chanting slogans and carrying signs supporting women’s rights. On the metro ride to the march, during the march and on our return home, I overheard informed and passionate conversations on the importance of having stronger legislation against sexual assault and sexual harassment on college campuses, as well as protecting the rights of undocumented immigrants, people of color, Muslims, people with disabilities, and members of the LGBT community.
The nationwide and global outpouring of support for the Women’s March and the record breaking numbers of participants highlight the significance of human rights and social justice issues. The question is if this global solidarity was a moment in time or start of a worldwide movement as more countries, especially in Europe lean toward extreme right leaning nationalistic political parties and candidates running for positions of leadership.
Links to sources:
Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert is the President and CEO of the Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute (ACEI).
The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.
The Million Woman March: A Los Angeles Perspective
I attended the Million Woman March in Los Angeles this past Saturday with several friends, and although I knew it would be crowded on the trains, the only logical transportation to the downtown location of the march, I never imagined exactly how crowded it would be. As of 2016 the “counted” population of the city exceeds 4 Million.
Our urban rail system is relatively new, and we spend a significant portion of time isolated in our cars on endless miles of streets and freeways, without much human contact. This is rapidly changing as the Metropolitan Transit Authority continues to make significant additions. Public transportation is the only way to understand the true nature of a city, sadly lost otherwise. Los Angeles is a polyglot, multicultural city with 224 languages spoken other than English, and it was a rare, unique moment in time when many of us converged, at the same place, at the same time, united in the same cause.
What an overwhelmingly beautiful thing to see and experience.
The first thing I noted was the way we all negotiated the new rules of personal space/distance. Perhaps it was because we were united in a singular cause, we seemed to be part of one organic form, functioning together, effortlessly, with unexpected grace and of all things, kindness. We were there for things much bigger, much more important, much more urgent than our personal issues of comfort.
No aggressive pushing, no shoving, all emotions channeled into a common cause. Not even a noticeable police presence, which is unheard of in protests in the city. Men, women, transgender, straight, gay, infants on their mother’s backs, grandmothers in wheelchairs, children holding signs on their father’s shoulders…all flowing together, extremely close together and everything just worked.
I felt an overwhelming sense of empowerment, and a core feeling of joy. This is what the world should be like, this is what the world is moving towards, and my city is an outstanding example of how it can work in a “perfect world.”
Joining the masses moving effortlessly down the street, the views of the sheer numbers packed into streets and alleyways was staggering. Once we reached the stage set up in front of City Hall, and were lucky to position ourselves with a view down on the masses I had a realization that something else deeply significant had occurred, which warmed my heart and gave me hope for the next generation.
Driven by the critical nature of the serous issues we were and are protesting, we had, collectively as a society, altered the invisible overlay of puritanical ethics by casually using the word “pussy” so openly, so cavalierly…a slang word used in a defiling way, by Donald Trump, bounced around the world in a never-ending sound bite. These young parents, had to have explained it all to their children in some way that made sense. One father, surrounded by pink-hatted little girls, had his daughter on his shoulders. Her neon-pink sign read “Don’t’ touch my …” with her own hand-drawn face of a kitty.
I tried to imagine the conversation he must have had with her, and I was filled again by the second wave of pride and hope for the future of our children. These young girls, and some boys, got it. They understood what we are all fighting for. This word, held up on hundreds of thousands of signs was a channel for the outrage and represented our refusal to accept the civic, personal, and human rights, the ecological and environmental abuses, the rising, and very frightening agenda to silence the voice of the people.
The way I see it, is that these young parents have given us all hope, by shifting the paradigm. Their children have learned to fight, to stand up and continue to have their voices heard, and we need them.
Jeannie Winston is a frequent guest blogger for ACEI’s Academic Exchange. Jeannie is an artist and writer living and working in Los Angeles, California. Jeannie completed her undergraduate studies in Illustration at The Arts Center of Pasadena, California. Her vast and intricate knowledge of Los Angeles and its cultural history bring a new perspective to our understanding of the City of Angels. She draws her inspiration from the natural and inhabited world around her. She is especially inspired by her observations of cultural fusions and how people strive to invoke spirit in daily life.