#whyimarched Exhausted Love

My comedian friend picked me up in Philadelphia at six am on January 21, 2017 to drive down to D.C. for the Women’s March. He asked me if it was ok if he wore a Wonder Woman costume, he wanted me to film Wonder Woman interviewing people at the march. I said I would love to and of course his costume selection was ok.

 

We drove  to D.C. talking about our lives and making jokes about how the movie Idiocracy is our reality. We talked about growing up with financial advantage. We spoke about how money leads to more opportunities to express oneself in the arts. We questioned how to live out our dreams.  It is a privilege for us to even be able to have this discussion. We are fortunate, we know we have more chances because we are white. We are not ok with having the upper hand.  We want to try to even the playing field in a creative way.

 

I was curious what his purpose was in being Wonder Woman that day but I did not ask at that time.

 

I film and write about characters and aim to let subjects unfold without direction. I want to understand their true nature and then evoke it. The ultimate performance to me is the one that is not planned but demonstrates a person’s essence.

 

We arrived in D.C.,parked the car, and immediately were stratified into the massive crowds that had shown up that day.  We started walking with no clear direction stopping at a Hampton Inn to use a restroom. The men at the Hampton Inn were accommodating considering we were not guests.

 

I used the restroom while Wonder Woman asked the gentlemen at the front desk if he could charge his camera. The gentleman obliged and mentioned to us this was the biggest crowd he had seen since Richard Nixon protests.  There were Trump supporters checking out of the hotel. In their “Make America Better” attire I observed that they seemed agitated.  

 

The scene made me wonder, was my perspective biased? How much does the media feed into my own perspective about people who support Trump?  

 

After we left the Hampton Inn we filmed a short introduction to Wonder Woman. Then, I asked Wonder Woman what he thought about the organization of the march. The meeting point stated Independence and Third on the Women’s March website. When we got to D.C. we had no idea how to get there and our cell phones were not working well.

 

We did not happen to have paper maps on us.

 

People who were there for the march were coming and going a million different directions. Imagine rivers flowing in different watercourses to an ocean of chaotic expressive love. People started following other people in small herds thinking that they knew where they were going.  Large groups meeting and bumping into one another at intersections, some disbanding into other smaller groups, others moving forward together.  

 

Continuous walking in different directions, yet all there to walk for the same reasons.

 

I asked Wonder Woman to think of how he would have organized the march.  I also challenged his thinking on intersectionality. Unfortunately, the footage we captured is without sound.  I caught clips of Wonder Woman spreading his magic. Women approaching to hug and, kiss him among the crowd’s erratic  watercourse.

 

We decided to go to a bar, get a beer, and regroup to figure out what our plan was. Wonder Woman continued to say  how thrilled he was to be at the Million Women’s March.  I did not correct him until later, I thought it was interesting how he called it the Million Women’s March.

 

There was a Million Men March in 1995 to put African American voices on the political agenda. Two years later there was a Million Women march in response to African American women left out of the conversation.

 

Wonder Woman was surprised when I told him that the name was Women’s March, but seemed to accept the information and take it in stride. In the bar we spoke to a man who was there to support his wife who was marching. They were from Baltimore. He showed me pictures of his children and talked of his wife and we also talked about ballparks in the United States.

 

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The bar crowded, packed full with people from the march was loud, it was difficult to communicate. One television screen had footage from the live march playing.  About ten remaining televisions were on sports channels. There was loud hip hop club music blaring.

 

A woman asked if the bartenders would turn down the music and turn up the live footage of the march so we could hear. The overworked male bartenders complied, but the television was difficult to hear.

 

I was waiting in line in the restroom when I overheard a woman saying that she was from Chicago. She was an older woman, if I had to guess I would say in her sixties. I asked her where she lived in Chicago as I currently live there. She explained to me that she lived in Niles, IL. I asked her how she got to the March, she had flown to Pittsburgh then taken a bus at two AM to get to DC. I asked her if she had gotten any sleep, and she said with relentless courage, I will sleep when I get home tonight. Her parting words were, “I am so happy to see so many people your age here today.” We hugged and went our separate ways.

 

I walked away with tears streaming down my face. Her words, grace, and demeanor humbled me.

 

I had flown into Philadelphia and a friend picked me up and drove me down to D.C. I wasn’t up as early as her to catch a bus. I was inspired by the challenges in her journey.

 

I am aware I take the conveniences in my life for granted, I am grateful for moments that remind me not to.

 

We captured an interview with Team Den Mother a group that supports activists in the D.C. metro area. We talked about the confusion people experience with their gender. The contrast of what their gender means in contrast to who they feel they are.

 

At this point I fully engaged in directing Wonder Woman.  I sensed the essence of erratic comedic craziness. What was lacking was true depth and vulnerability.  His depth and vulnerability revealed itself in conversation with a man.  Wonder Woman had breast reduction surgery in high school. He spoke about how it made  him feel vulnerable.  In turn he wanted to be there to support this cause, for women, for everybody. It was a beautiful moment of support between a man and Wonder Woman.  

 

Wonder Woman told me later  he had never been vulnerable like that in stand up comedy.  There were signs of vulnerability everywhere, as well as signs of acceptance. The Impeach Trump signs caught my eye,  I  prefer Trump over the alternatives, for example,  Pence. They are all so horrible, it’s difficult to say what is worse. People were yelling, “Fuck Trump” at certain points.

 

I thought, hate never wins, hate never wins, this is not what we are here for.

 

There were so many different people representing so many different views. Beautiful strong watercourses all flowing to the same ocean, red, pink, blue, black, green, magenta.   I felt proud being there as me, no pink hat, no pink, an observant trying to capture the essence of the day.

 

I marched for you who is reading this.  I marched for those who didn’t have a choice.  Those who felt they didn’t have a choice. I marched for Donald Trump, I marched for the Trump supporters, to show that I respect the choice to have a choice. I hope we all continue to actively listen and keep our voices strong. Let’s keep on marching.

 

I marched because of the culture of fear we have been living in. I marched for gender fluidity. I marched for people who are different in any way, shape or kind. I marched because we didn’t have a clear path on Saturday, but we ended up in an ocean of love no matter how we got there.

 

I marched to demonstrate the power of love, inclusiveness, and understanding will always trump fear.    

 

A culture of fear built through instant gratification.  We do not question enough because we can find anybody to agree with us online through social media. Even if we disagree we never have to face someone anymore, we can type out our feelings and hit send.   

 

I see it every day on the streets of Chicago, in the office, in the bus, the bar, the churches. People scared to talk, people unsure of themselves so they hide behind the shadows of their iPhones.  I marched for  my African American girlfriend getting followed in bodegas by store clerks who think she is stealing. I marched for my friends who are here illegally but work harder than anybody else to have a chance, leaving behind countries torn in war and poverty.

 

I marched for the voices of my friends down south who are part of cultures that want to kill the choices of women.

 

Last night I was at the Green Mill, a famous jazz venue in Chicago, and  a black man was talking about the violence in Chicago.  800 people died last year and the media tells us it’s not that bad. He asked the question, how are we being held responsible for this? How am I responsible?

 

I have not done enough. We have not done enough.

 

The violence in Chicago is what made me inspired to go to our nation’s capitol and march. The Women’s March a place for us to show up, to show that we care.  We want to do something, we are unsure of what to do sometimes. That doesn’t mean we will quietly accept the bigotry, and lies that are living in the White House.

 

What has made me sad and discouraged over the years is how disengaged people my age are. As Eyedea and Abilities said in Exhausted Love, “We were the cream of the crop now it seems we’ve been robbed that’s what happens when you trade all your dreams for a job.”

 

Perhaps the horrible thing we have accepted,  is that we should give up our dreams for a paycheck. Terrified to do different. We could end up in prison, on the streets, alone. What about the prisons we have formed out of our cowardice? In our own minds, in our communities? There are no answers to this, only action and further questions, to keep pushing, to  hoping, to be strong.  

 

I hope we all continue to actively listen and keep our voices strong. Let’s keep marching.

 

Amy Kirsling

 

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