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Reckoning, Realization, & Self-Education at the New York Women's March

Women's March
Photography: Aaron Hooper

"Sometimes it will require realizing that we ourselves have been part of the problem. But that’s how real change happens. That’s the work."

We are witnessing the political awakening of our time. Once again, the 2018 Women's March brought millions around the country--and even some around the world--into the streets to demonstrate the size and power of this movement for equality. For younger generations, this is something we've only seen the likes of in history books, yet these are moments that will shape the next chapters.

Related | 32 Empowering Sights & Signs from the New York Women's March

Before I begin, I want to call out that, as a cis white man at the Women's March, my first order of business was to listen. I was there to follow the lead of women, who I believe, among other things, will lead this country back to a place of greater dignity and respect.

No matter the movement, I believe all of us--even in spaces centered on communities with which we identify--have an obligation to commit to listening and to understanding each other as we work to see and accept the complexities of our communities. Part of answering that call is taking up the work of reeducating ourselves, seeking the perspectives of all those who make up the mosaic of today's change movements, and understanding the systems of oppression that are the result of deliberate decisions by people with power. Speaking from my own experience, it will require moments of reckoning and realization.


Photography: Aaron Hooper

For instance, it will require white men to commit to working alongside others to unravel the systems of oppression that white men entangled in our institutions over centuries--and that much of the women's movement is working to unravel as well. It will require white women to bring their activism to the ballot box, where the majority of white women voters have chosen candidates like Donald Trump and Roy Moore. It will require pushing for widespread support and protections for trans women, who face high rates of violence just for existing. Sometimes it will require realizing that we ourselves have been part of the problem. But that's how real change happens. That's the work.

When this year's crowds cleared and the signs were lowered and the chants of joyful resistance subsided, I traveled back home the way I came only to realize that what got us to this moment won't be enough to move us forward. After squeezing into sardined subway cars and walking the familiar route back to my apartment, I made a cup of coffee in the pot I rinsed but should've washed, and then I sat down at my desk, rededicated to the labor of self-education, and continued the work.

Vinnie Amendolare was the Deputy Director for Presidential Correspondence in the Obama White House. He currently lives in New York City where he works as a writer and serves as the head of research for Voices4--an activist group working toward global queer liberation. You can find him on Instagram and Twitter.

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