“What do you do when you’re under attack?”
“Stand Up! Fight Back!”
Southwestern College students did. They were among the more than 40,000 protesters who came out for the San Diego Women’s March. Supporters also marched down the streets of thousands of other cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Mexico City, London, Cape Town and Sydney. In all there were an estimated 3 billion protesters worldwide on every continent – including Antarctica. Millions of women and girls wore homemade pink “pussy hats” to signal their displeasure with President Trumps’ misogynistic behavior.
Alida Ranganesh, 45, walked in the San Diego march.
“I’m not so much protesting as I’m standing up for positivity, personal freedom and human rights,” she said.
Protestors said the trigger for these worldwide protests was the threat to civil rights under the Trump administration.
Simon Clark, 20, said Trump needed to act presidential and respect all Americans.
“I want Trump to realize that the position of president is a position of power and a position of responsibility,” he said. “He is responsible for all the people in this country.”
Many protestors expressed fear that the inauguration of a conservative president and cabinet would threaten their reproductive rights.
Victoria Leyva, a 23-year-old SWC journalism major, was among them.
“It was important for me to march because I wanted to stand in solidarity with other marginalized groups and to peacefully show that I’m not happy with the current political climate and I’m not going anywhere,” she said.
Trump took to Twitter the following day to respond to the marches.
“Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn’t these people vote?” he tweeted.
San Diego’s march was as diverse and intersectional as the city. Men, women, children, people of all colors, straight and LGBTQ people all came out to show support.
Leyva said too many Americans in homogeneous parts of the country are afraid of diversity when they should not be.
“Seeing such diversity made me feel seen and cared for,” she said, “that if something were to happen to me, I have all of these people who will not only stand with me but will also stand behind me.”
SWC President Dr. Kindred Murillo said that while she was not in attendance she appreciated the inclusive message of the march.
“I thought it was a very organized, thoughtful protest,” she said. “It was about everybody, even though it was supposedly a woman’s march. It was very inclusive and exciting to have people come together in all these different cities and all over the United States saying ‘look, we are concerned about this and we are going to fight to make sure we are including everybody and that we’re going to fight for civil rights, and for people.'”
Though the Women’s March was a powerful statement, Leyva said follow up is required.
“I think it was a big first step,” she said. “It’s a small victory, but there is so much more work that needs to be done that we can’t really revel in it. I will attend more protests, call my representatives, continue to support my marginalized brothers and sisters and be steadfast. I love my country and I love its people and I’m not going anywhere.”
Murillo said protests are necessary going forward.
“Your civil rights are tied to the ability for any person to have a decent life. Fairly, equally, with equity. If we can’t allow people to have that and provide that opportunity for them, then what kind of nation are we?”