The Call-In: The Women's March
LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
Time now for The Call-In.
(SOUNDBITE OF CORDUROI'S "MY DEAR")
GARCIA-NAVARRO: It's also been one year since the Women's March brought huge crowds of women across the country out onto the streets after President Trump's inauguration. Last week, we asked you for your stories about how that experience did or did not stay with you one year later. We begin with Tram Nguyen, who told us the election of Donald Trump was a huge blow.
TRAM NGUYEN: I was very dejected. I just felt completely helpless.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: That changed with the Women's March.
NGUYEN: Seeing the energy and seeing the people and their willingness to take action with me - it was really a transformative time.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: She harnessed that energy and got involved in local politics and political organizations. She says she's planning to run for state office this fall as a challenger to a Republican incumbent. Nguyen is a legal aid attorney from Andover, Mass. She came to the United States with her parents when she was 5. She thinks those experiences will help her on the campaign trail and in office.
NGUYEN: It's important to have voices like mine, a new voice, a fresh perspective, someone who is an immigrant who has that experience, who grew up in a working-class family but also someone who has helped vulnerable people in my line of work who have been an advocate for the people who understand what it takes to be the voice of the people.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: And she hopes her background will help widen the reach of the women's movement to include more people of color.
NGUYEN: Inclusion and equality takes time. It takes effort. It's a directive process. And so the more women of color who join this movement, the more it will expand out to those groups. And we should put an effort into making sure that that does happen, that this movement becomes what we want it to be.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Still, the marches didn't mobilize everyone. Rebecca Richmond is a self-described liberal feminist who thinks the marches didn't live up to their billing.
REBECCA RICHMOND: The name Women's March was misleading.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: She's 22 years old and lives in Sherwood, Ark. She did not go to the marches last year.
RICHMOND: It wasn't necessarily for or about women. I know a lot of people say that it was called that because it was created by a woman or because mostly women attended. But I could say that for a lot of other marches, as well. I feel like the Women's March is so ambiguous that people didn't know why it was happening. Even people on the left still don't quite understand what the Women's March was about, myself included.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: That it was just sort of an umbrella movement for lots of different grievances and lots of different advocacy, but it didn't have one, coherent goal.
RICHMOND: Exactly. I think it was definitely kind of a way for people to show that they were disgruntled. But it didn't have any specific goal in mind, which is why I felt that these kind of marches are a bit watered down. Absolutely, if these marches are effective, and this leads to the first shaky steps of, you know, social and political change, then I'll eat my words. But as someone who values revolutionary change, I think that there are effective and ineffective ways of producing it. I think the general public just doesn't understand what these marches are for. I think a lot of people are using them rather as a - kind of a way to pat themselves on the back and network with other people who have the same beliefs.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: We've had a lot of women calling in, though, to tell us that they felt energized by the march. And we've seen an uptick demonstrable of women running for office. Doesn't that count?
RICHMOND: I definitely think that's correlated. But I don't necessarily think that that is causation. I think that women for a long time have been trying to be seen in public as more of serious political figures. I think it has a lot to do with the #MeToo movement. I think a lot of people are realizing that, hey, if a reality TV star can win the presidency, why can't I, an average Joe, win a political office in my town?
GARCIA-NAVARRO: So can you tell me what you're planning this weekend? Are you going to be attending the march in Arkansas?
RICHMOND: This weekend, I had originally not planned to attend. I know that the #MeToo march had slowly been absorbed into our reproductive rally for justice, and that had slowly been absorbed into the marches for this weekend. And when I questioned what this march was for - because I felt like I should know if I was going to show up - I got a lot of mixed responses. No one really had a solid idea until the founders of said march contacted me and told me that it was to kind of reinvigorate the public, to incentivize women to take political roles or to become activists themselves. And I don't think there's anything wrong with that. But I find that a little worrying. It makes me worry that people on the outside aren't going to be able to understand what these marches are for or what our goals are.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: And so what did you decide?
RICHMOND: I decided that I'm going to show up to the marches and basically kind of see firsthand what's going on. I know from the outside I can make a lot of criticisms. But I think I will get a much better idea about it when I actually attend.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: That was Rebecca Richmond of Sherwood, Ark. Our last conversation is with Windi Hornsby of Indianapolis, Ind. Last year, she jumped in a car with some friends and drove to D.C. to join the Women's March. But then...
WINDI HORNSBY: I wish that I could say that I was going to a lot of protests and involved deeply with a organization pushing forward agenda items that I thought were important. But honestly, I've just been living my life (laughter).
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Hornsby is really busy. She has two daughters, works full time at a med school and is studying to get a master's in public health.
HORNSBY: You know, I've been treading water, working, raising kids, trying to keep my house marginally clean. And it just doesn't leave a lot of time for continued tangible action, which is disappointing but realistic.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Her activism might not have lasted. But she got something a couple of months after the march that is permanent, a tattoo of the now feminist rallying cry - nevertheless, she persisted - on her collarbone.
HORNSBY: While it reminds me of this specific time in political history and the way that I'm feeling and the way that I hope my daughters never have to feel, you know, it reminds me to push forward kind of in all things.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Did the march change anything for you?
HORNSBY: It made me less afraid to share how I feel about things and to make my opinion known, you know, whereas maybe before I wouldn't have been so out and loud and proud about it. I'm not afraid to engage in difficult conversations with people anymore just because I think we have to have those difficult conversations with everyone around us and not be afraid of the reaction or the conflict that might ensue.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: That was Windi Hornsby of Indianapolis, Ind. The numbers do show more Democratic women are getting involved in politics. Groups like EMILY'S List, which helps elect pro-choice Democratic women to office says there has been an explosion of interest since Donald Trump's election. And yesterday, there were more women's marches across the country.
(SOUNDBITE OF CORDUROI'S "MY DEAR")
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Next week on The Call-In, gentrification in our communities - wealthier people move in. Property values and rents rise. Things change and improve but not for everyone. Poor people and people of color can be left behind or leave. Are you a gentrify-er? Or do you worry that you are? Have you been priced out of your neighborhood? Or do you feel it's changed in ways that make you feel unwelcome? Tell us. Call in at 202-216-9217. Be sure to include your full name, where you're from and your phone number, and we may use it on the air. That's 202-216-9217.
(SOUNDBITE OF CORDUROI'S "MY DEAR") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.