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The day after the presidential inauguration, hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children took to the streets in Women’s Marches across the country, a “grassroots effort” that, in the words of the official national platform, featured “nationally recognized advocates, artists, entertainers, entrepreneurs, [and] thought leaders”. For many individuals, these marches served as an affirmation of women’s rights in the face of the Trump administration. For others, they served as a direct protest of his presidency. Regardless of the reasons people had for participating, the widespread support of the marches demonstrate that there are a significant number of people opposed to Trump’s political agenda.
The marches are a critical showing that joins a broad history of civil protest in the United States, with turnout rates estimated to be higher than those at Trump’s inauguration the day before. We commend participants of the women’s marches across the country, and are encouraged that these events were able to bring together both activist groups as well as citizens who are less politically engaged.
That said, one of the most worrying aspects of the marches was how differently the media portrayed these marches compared to similar civil rights protests that have transpired in recent years.
Even though the Women’s Marches were hailed by many as an affirmation of women’s rights, some criticized the marches for being too narrow in its scope. Additionally, while it was an important showing, it is concerning to see that similar Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ+ Pride events have received different coverage.
Black Lives Matter, in particular, has been branded as an extremist group by some in the media for staging similar marches and protests in similar calls for equal rights. We hope that the media critically reconsiders the way they cover demonstrations, especially given the controversial and inflammatory nature of many Trump administration platforms. Coverage must be done in a balanced and fair way with respect to all racial and socioeconomic groups.
Despite some criticism that the platform of the Women’s Marches was not sufficiently inclusive, we recognize the enthusiasm that people worldwide had for the marches and that they were able to bring many different communities together. However, we regret that the same levels of enthusiasm and support were not evident a few months earlier, when we had the opportunity to break the glass ceiling and elect our first woman president.
Even though people participated in the marches for a variety of reasons, we are hopeful that they brought together a diverse cross-section of individuals. This strong show of unity should not stop after the marches. People should take this opportunity to continue collaboration between marginalized communities, especially in the face of a president who has repeatedly criticized different minority groups. While the Women’s Marches should be the starting point for a fight for civil rights, the fight will be insufficient if it is not intersectional. Until people of every race, creed, and identity are included and remembered in the fight, organizers, activists, and citizens will still have work to do in ensuring equal opportunity for all Americans. Continued collaboration will be essential in order to successfully advocate for change.
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