Hi, did you march on January 21?
I was at the march in New York, along with over 400,000 others. A massive sea of people curling through Midtown East, many times the original attendance estimate that had been planned for.
I noted this at the time, but the mood felt less like a protest march and more like a party—and certainly far, far different than any protest that I have ever attended. Cops with pink hats took pictures with protestors. People spotted each other in the crowd and started asking each other about their weekends.
It’s not clear to me exactly what aspect of the Women’s March caused this. Was it a matter of the sheer size of the crowd? Was it the assumption that women would be less likely to be violent with police? Was it the unusually high number of white marchers? I could spend literally tens of thousands of words unpacking what any one of those says about our society, but I have other immediate thoughts in mind.
Regardless of what the logical path was, your presence, particularly the presence of those of you who do not regularly march, did something.
I have a lot of friends who live in blue dots that seem to be searching for something they can do to help. Some have money to spare, but many don’t. Some have communities they can work in to knock down hate, but many don’t.
As it turns out, the alt-right appears to be moving forward with protests against Google for the firing of James Damore at Google buildings in nine cities across the country. The cities included on their list are virtually all blue dots if not blue seas, and the vast majority of my non-Ohio friends are going to live within spitting distance of one of them.
If you believed in the promise of the Women’s March, you should hopefully find Damore’s anti-diversity screed unacceptable (although, in my experience, a summary of views held all too commonly, even in supposedly progressive settings). This is exactly the kind of counter-protest that should make you want to mobilize again.
Charlottesville, for me, does not complicate this. While I do think that the line between the alt-right and the open white supremacists is vanishingly thin, I do expect this particular protest crowd to be less predisposed to violent confrontation. In any event, I also made peace with what I am willing to lay my body on the line for some time ago. (It is not a moral failing to have not considered that yet, but I don’t think it’s an academic question at this point.)
So, for everybody, but particularly the white, neurotypical, and able-bodied folks out there:
Do you want to show the world where you stand while lending cover, quite literally, to your brothers and sisters? I have long-standing travel plans that will bring me far away from any of the nine cities on the list, ones I considered canceling, but even if only 100,000 can and do show up to peacefully and loudly counter-protest in New York, how likely do you think it is that the alt-right will try to escalate?
Here’s the list of cities: Atlanta, Austin, Boston, LA, Mountain View, New York, Pittsburgh, Seattle, DC.