Memories of the Women’s March

Adriana Nieto | @Dr_A_Nieto

I remember feeling excited. My heart rate was a bit up. I remember wishing I had made a sign. I asked Sofia, my 16 year-old daughter, “Why didn’t we make any signs?” We didn’t have pussy hats either. I didn’t want one. My daughter and her friends discussed it. “Not all women have pussies, and not all people who have pussies are women,” Sofia told me.  

“They don’t?”

“Not trans women,” she replied to her dad and me. She’s what you call, “woke.”

As we were getting ready to leave, I watched the Women’s March streaming from D.C. I remember my cynicism, rooted in a fear the march would be all white women, melted away in response to the hope and love and fierceness of speeches. First up was Gloria Steinem. She looked amazing and tired (and white). Angela Davis, Linda Sarsour, Janelle Monae, Tamika Mallory (all women of color, and all women I now follow on twitter) reminded the crowd, “for some of us, this is not the first time we have taken to the streets.”  Indeed, for my daughter and her friends, Joi and Jaime, the Women’s March was their second march in the last thirty days, and third since before the November election. They had organized, spoken at, lead chants for, and marshaled the Denver Youth Stand for Standing Rock, and a walkout from East High School on inauguration day.

I was emotional. I cried off and on all day. We walked downtown from our house to meet up with the marchers. We followed the girls. They walked with intent. They kept pointing at signs they liked. The streets were streaming with people. Pink pussy hats, black pussy hats, moms with daughters, granddaughters, men with women. Smiles all around. It was happy. It was like when I took my son downtown for the Bronco parade after they won the Super Bowl, only instead of orange, there was pink everywhere.

We jumped into the flow of the march at an awkward moment. It was the only spot we could enter without too much pushing. We started off trying to be near music—these girls like music and they’re always dancing. As we walked, we found ourselves in a pocket of marchers who were kind of quiet.

And then: Sofia’s friend Jaime yelled with fist in the air “MY BODY!” and Sofia and Joi responded “MY CHOICE!” with fists in air. I saw a group of women in front of them shudder, startle, and turn around to see beautiful xingonas, 16 and 17 years old. Those around us joined. “MY BODY-MY CHOICE, MY BODY-MY CHOICE MY BODY MY CHOICE!”  I cried. The girls looked comfortable walking in the middle of the street.  They pointed to the corner of Broadway and Colfax “remember that’s where the skinheads were for our Standing Rock march?” They are already creating memories from their activism. I hear their voices echo with each march, each chant, each observation about the world around them.

When we arrived back at the Civic Center Park, the girls made their way down to the front of the stage so they could hear the speaker who was talking about water and Standing Rock. Although I wished the turnout for the Youth Stand for Standing Rock was as large, I still felt excited and hopeful. I overheard someone next to us say, “I have never stepped foot in this park before.” The things that bring us together.   

I welled with pride at the leadership and confidence and passion the girls had built up since the Youth Stand for Standing Rock march six weeks earlier. What I’m most touched by is their apparent comfort chanting “mni wichoni! Water is Life!” in the same streets where they chanted “my body, my choice!” They are the ones we need to listen to, to hear. They understand their declarations about water, life, bodies, choice are inextricably tied. They are not as burdened with the baggage of the generation before them that has sought to rigidly police identity and affiliation. They are the generation that will bring together the seemingly disparate parts: women’s rights, indigenous rights, environmental rights, immigrant rights, black lives matter. They are Chingonas. I hope we all listen to them. They have such strong, lovely, promising, earth-shattering, dance-inducing, ancestor honoring things to say.

 

 The author, left, with her daughter and daughter’s friends, and husband at the Women’s March, January 20, 2017, Denver.

The author, left, with her daughter and daughter’s friends, and husband at the Women’s March, January 20, 2017, Denver.