On Saturday, Mr Pict and I took our four sons to participate in the Women’s March event happening in Philadelphia, one of many marches happening across the country and around the world.
As a result of my Gran’s passion for politics and issues, I started attending protests, marches, and demonstrations when I was tiny, maybe five years old. I have attended scores of such events over the years but then I developed an anxiety problem related to crowds that prevented me from attending any large events, from music festivals to rallies. I could not join last year’s Women’s March anyway because I had to work but this year I decided to push myself past my crowd anxiety for a number of reasons: I wanted my sons to have the experience of this form of civic engagement and understand how they can utilise their privilege for the benefit of others; as someone not eligible to vote, it is one of the few opportunities for me to stand up and be counted; and most importantly, I am an advocate for civil and human rights, social justice and equity so I felt compelled to go there and represent not just myself and my family but also be there to support all those who could not attend for reasons of mobility, finance, logistics, or personal safety.
The event was superb and very well-organised. The atmosphere was energising and inspiring. Although there were tens of thousands of people there (I read an estimate of 50,000 people), the route up Benjamin Franklin Parkway was wide enough that I never once felt hemmed in enough for my crowd issue to spark my anxiety. The boys were great and enjoyed reading the placards that so many people were carrying and listening to the chants along the way. Our ten year old is particularly engaged in current affairs so he especially enjoyed the experience of participating in democracy in this way. The march ended in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and it was there that we listened to various women delivering powerful speeches about the importance of engagement, participation, and activism. It was also thought-provoking and challenging and, given I am a white woman, prompted some self-reflection on what more I can do to channel my privilege for good. I am so glad that we went and added our voices to the throng.