I write for lots of reasons. One is to relieve anxiety. Putting my worries into words somehow makes me feel better.
And at the moment, I'm not feeling good about the 2018 Salem Womxn's March, which I've argued should be called a Women's March to build on the amazingly successful 2017 event with that name.
Now, because there is very little public information available about next month's march other than this event notification on the Salem Resists Facebook page, maybe the concerns I'm going to relate below are misfounded. If so, I look forward to Womxn's March organizers setting me straight.
(Um, one thing that needs to be straightened out is the time. I can't believe the march is going to be 26 hours long, running from noon on Sunday to 2 pm on Monday, so I'm assuming the actual time is noon to 2 pm on Sunday, January 21.)
Names matter. So my #1 plea to the event organizers is to rethink the wisdom of calling it a Womxn's March rather than a Women's March. I talked about some reasons for this in my previous post and I'm going to elaborate on them here.
The 2017 Salem Women's March Facebook page seems to have disappeared, but an artifact remains here. This is the description on that page.
Come join Salem's offical sister event to the national Women's March on Washington, D.C. Stand in solidarity with others committed to mobilizing against fear and the upcoming marginalization and oppression of others, including the erosion of our civil rights. Will you be there to help us make history?
Absolutely, said about 4,200 people in Salem last January.
The reasons for having a Women's March are even stronger now. We aren't guessing about how horrible a president Trump would be, now we know how dangerous he is to democracy, human rights, equity, social justice.
If 4,200 people came out to protest Trump and support women last January, on a cold, rainy, windy day, organizers of the 2018 event should plan for even more people. Think 5,000, or 7,500, or even 10,000.
The Virginia and Alabama elections showed how motivated people are to come to the polls and vote against Trumpism. I've little doubt that a 2018 Salem Women's March would build on that enthusiasm. But a Womxn's March, I'm not so sure.
Organizers of the 2018 event, please don't think small. Think huge. If the turnout doesn't meet your expectations, so be it.
Just don't limit yourself by thinking a main purpose of the march is to raise people's consciousness about intersectionality (whatever that is) associated with transgender and other womxn's issues.
Because it shouldn't be.
The unspeakable horrors of what Trump and his like-minded followers are inflicting on our country need to be spoken about. Sure, these include trampling on transgender rights, but this is just a small part of what a 2018 Women's March should focus on.
Believe me, every moment organizers of the march spend explaining why they're spelling "Women" as "Womxn" is a moment that should have been used to urge people to come out and unite against the Trumpian forces that are pulling our country in a direction it absolutely must not go toward.
Remember, event organizers, this is Salem not San Francisco.
Seattle is having a 2018 Womxn Act on Seattle as a follow-up to their 2017 Women's March. Meaning, even Seattle isn't having a Womxn's march, they're having "a citywide day of learning, supporting, sharing, and acting on behalf of nonprofit organizations, grassroots and social justice groups in Seattle."
Salem leans liberal, but not by a gigantic amount.
In the 2016 presidential election Trump got 38% of the vote and Clinton 49%. March organizers should want to attract a good number of people in Salem who voted for Trump because they thought he would shake things up, and now are disheartened by how that shaking has turned out.
Yes, I realize this may seem like heresy to ardent progressives. But it is a reasonable goal.
The 2017 Women's March was wonderfully inclusive. Men and women of all ages and ethnicities cheered, marched, and danced together. In 2018 it seems possible to include an even wider range of Salemians, since Trump's popularity has been steadily sinking.
Understand: I'm not saying that organizers of next month's event need to do everything the same way as it was done in January 2017. However, they should build on the success of the 2017 Women's March, learning from the lessons of the inaugural event.
One lesson is to have a sound system that will reach more people than organizers expect to attend the event. Last January many of the 4,200 attendees couldn't hear the people who spoke prior to the march.
Another lesson is to establish a good relationship ahead of time with the Salem Police Department.
In 2017 one of the men who helped organize the Women's March (yes, men were welcomed as organizers) did a great job working with the police. This paid off when thousands more people than expected showed up, since the Women's March didn't have a permit to walk in the streets.
It would have been almost impossible to fit everybody onto sidewalks, which was the original plan. Thankfully, Salem police adjusted on the spot and allowed marchers to fill up streets on the march's route, which was much appreciated.
I'm looking forward to the 2018 Salem Womxn's March, which I hope becomes a Women's March. I also hope that organizers will take what I've written in the helpful spirit that I've intended.