A white male’s experience at the Women’s March on St. Louis

A white male's experience at the Women's March on St. Louis

photo by Holden Foreman

Their signs flooded Market Street in downtown St. Louis. To an outsider, they looked similar enough: a group of predominantly white women gathered to complain about the new president. Yet, their signs told a richer story. Their signs insisted black lives matter, their signs demanded LGBTQ rights and their signs promoted environmental protection. The participants of the Jan. 21 Women’s March on St. Louis did not gather to fight just for women; they gathered to fight for us all.

When my mother initially asked me to join her in the march, I could not help but hesitate. I agreed wholeheartedly with the cause, but I failed to see the point in walking around a city in shambles, while the “real” fight took place in Washington, D.C. When I did agree to go, I saw the trip as little more than a means of appeasing my mother in our last year together before college. I even felt a tinge of regret when I realized I represented the only man in our eight-person group. Yes, I nearly regretted taking part in my nation’s politics. Shame on me.

After arriving on the scene in downtown St. Louis, the doubts swirling within my mind vanished. I could not stop searching for new signs with which I could relate and even laugh. TKC will compile a gallery of the best signs from the march, but a middle-aged man’s “your cabinet picks suck worse than the L.A. Rams” sign remains a particular favorite. Essentially, the march gave anyone of any gender an outlet to make themselves heard regarding the issue(s) of their choice. And if that doesn’t reflect American democracy, then nothing will for the next four years.

One march in January will not solve the problems that continue to divide our country.”

President Donald J. Trump officially took office Jan. 20, but U.S. citizens cling onto the hope that he will not oppress minorities and women as he sometimes appeared to during his campaign. The voices I heard marching around me did not reek of despair nor even anger when they chanted for equal rights; instead, I felt an intense vibe of optimism and even humor in the air: a sense that no matter who the majority votes into power, each individual will maintain their ability to speak.

One march in January will not solve the problems that continue to divide our country. Black people and people of other minorities were noticeably hard to find in a crowd that claimed to champion their rights, and controversy over the white organizers’ possible exclusion of these demographics sends warning signs to say the least. However, the willingness of more than 10,000 people to peacefully advocate human rights–and take some digs at the president only one day after his inauguration–exhibits the courage and unity the 2016 election’s “losers” hold.

In my mind, one quote can outweigh a thousand signs, and Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., echoed the thoughts of thousands upon taking the microphone after the march.

“The thing about elections is that they come around more than once,” McCaskill said. “This [march] has given me a renewed sense of the fight.”