When I returned home from the Women’s March in Miami I felt invincible. I carried my optimism in feet aching from hours of marching and in a raspy voice from hollering dozens of liberal aphorisms through the downtown streets. My exuberance lasted until the next day when my ears stopped ringing and I was again without the immediate presence of ten thousand protesters crying “Pussy grabs back.” The Women’s Marches were an inarguable success, a worldwide grassroots triumph. Marching as one was inspiring, and anyone who participated can tell you that the sensation of hope was palpable.
In spite of this, the Women’s Marches will likely do little to curtail the Trump administration’s frantic efforts to undo Obama’s influence. Unlike the most successful grassroots movement in the United States – the Civil Rights Movement – the Women’s March has not decided on a single message that is accessible or inclusive to all Americans. Disparities in opinions on reproductive rights (What do we do with all the pro-life feminists?), what it means to be a woman (How does the transgender marcher feel about the woman sporting a homemade uterus hat?) and the apparently confounding role that race plays in this whole thing have already lead to infighting and alienation of women and others outside the movement.
To add to the ambiguity, the Women’s March seems to have tacked itself onto the Black Lives Matter and environmental awareness movements, which on the surface appears to be an act of inclusivity and solidarity. However, assigning unrelated beliefs to millions of individuals has more potential to divide rather than unite – often the result of employing identity politics.
I believe deeply in the power of the Women’s March to influence the course of our nation over the next four years and the decades after that. These are the nascent stages. But the Women’s March must make a lot of decisions about what it wants to be – and if success is in the cards, those decisions must augment, not limit, the definition of our collective American identity.
Mackenzie Karbon is a sophomore majoring in jazz performance. Here’s That Rainy Day, runs the first Thursday of each month.