The efficacy of marches and protests is always questioned. It is never enough for some naysayers who ask:
Why didn’t you vote?
Marching and voting are not mutually exclusive. I voted. The act of not voting would be a slap in the face to my great-grandmother who was a suffragette and drove other women to the polls in her wagon when their husbands refused to give them a ride. My rights are not god given, but state granted and hard won. Marching is one strategy to demonstrate my active and vigilant participation in the democratic process.
What are you hoping to accomplish?
A march or a protest accomplishes many things. Any time I have participated in an event, I was driven there by a deep feeling of anger and injustice — whether it be gay rights, cuts to education, or police brutality. There is an overwhelming feeling to DO something and take action. In a sense, taking this action calms that feeling of pent up injustice.
Secondly, there is a need to feel validated in one’s anger– when I feel pent up anger towards injustice I start to look around and I think to myself, “Am I being too sensitive? Am I just causing trouble when I should let it lie? Am I being that humorless activist?” As a woman, there is extra societal pressure to be nice. Here nice means quiet, affable, with the inability to be offended even by the most utterly despicable jokes or statements. Nice reaffirms the status quo — the patriarchy, white supremacy, heteronormativity, and the bourgeoisie (et al. systems of established hierarchy). Nasty affirms justice and equality and shrugs off the shackles of politesse for the greater purpose of working towards a better world. Being nice is rewarded by society, while being nasty is punished. A march or protest opens up a space for vehement nasty expression. We start as individuals with that same burning sensation of injustice in our hearts and we are drawn out to that protest space. When we meet, we recognize that we are not alone in our feelings.
Finally, once we recognize that we are not alone then the true work can begin. We can make connections, join organizations, debate ideas and strategies. The march or protest is only the beginning. It is not one day– it is day one of a greater movement. For many, this is just the beginning of getting involved. Educate yourselves and read, read, read every piece of activist literature you can get your hands on. Develop your critical thinking skills, and take everything with a grain of salt. Make connections with other activists and organize.