Road to DC: Washington, DC —
I met Sarah on the Metro heading home after the Women’s March on Washington. I asked her what the march meant to her. Her answer traced her journey from anger and sadness to action. Here are some excerpts:
“When Donald Trump won…there was this great sense of sadness and anger and disbelief… that they would elect someone to be the leader of our country who talked about ‘grabbing pussies.’ And ‘if you’re a star they’ll let you do it.’
“I was already against him long before that for other reasons. But I kept thinking, ‘Okay, this is the thing that will turn people against him. This is the thing. How could anybody, especially a woman, vote for him after that?
“So there’s just been a lot of grief since the loss.”
“I do a lot in Houston as a community organizer, activist. I never can just sit down and not do anything…not try to change the world. So I said, ok, what can I do?
“I lead labyrinth walks. Labyrinths are a meditative walking practice. So I said, ok, I’m going to organize a labyrinth walk for peace. And it was great. It was beautiful. People came and they needed some way to let go of their sadness and so I had all the [five] different stages of grief on pieces of paper around the labyrinth—disbelief, denial, depression, etc.— and I wanted people to think about what stage they were in. That was really helpful for them to do that, really special.
“That was good, but there was still more anger happening.
“So I decided to start photographing people who represent all the groups that Trump is denigrating. So I had the Mexican-Americans, I had the Native Americans, I had the Union members. I’m up to 23 now I think. I added university students because he lied to the Trump university people.”
“Everything I was doing was good, but it still wasn’t giving me relief. I needed to do more. So my friend, Amanda, and I made a plan to go to the march, to come here, and I’m so glad we did because it was a really cathartic thing to do and it felt like everybody was coming together, part of a world-wide movement that was happening.
“I kept telling Amanda, ‘this is like the suffragettes, we’re going to go down in history as people that were part of this movement.’
“…don’t just go back to shopping, and going out to eat…realize that we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
“This march has changed me, the Donald Trump election has changed me. And I think it’s good. This is all things that were there. They were all issues that were bubbling underneath the surface. So it’s been very invigorating.
“I’m completely changed. And moved. To see the power of the people was really special. And to see the power in a polite way.”
“What needs to happen next? That’s what all my friends are saying on Facebook. I loved what Michael Moore said, I really took that to heart. He said start calling your congressmen and women every single day, seven days a week. Find out what they’re working on. Start calling your representatives at the state level. Work with your representatives at the city level.
“And then, don’t just go back to shopping, and going out to eat, but to realize that we’ve got a lot of work to do.
“Get involved with groups that are doing things. If you don’t have a support group to help carry things out, you’re going to be lost. It’s a tiring kind of thing to do to be an activist.
“I have a document. It’s called Steps to being a Changemaker. It’s like a cheat sheet on how to be an activist. People can get overwhelmed because it’s a never-ending job. Even if Hillary had been in office there’d be plenty of things to be activists about. But we have to take care of ourselves. And ignite your life. That’s my art project. It’s called Ignite Your Life. It’s all about finding what makes your heart sing. I have 52 tips for igniting your life. And one of them is vote and get politically active.”