The Blue Wave Is Galvanized at the NYC Women’s March

Images via Getty

On 77th Street and Central Park West in Manhattan, penned in a
holding pattern while an
estimated 200,000 people
waited to march, an ocean of blue
was at a standstill. Situated in a cluster of about a hundred
women and men was something like a roving art installation: at
its fore, two six-foot pink “gates” reading “PUSSY GATE” and
“TIME’S UP,” decorated with brightly colored cat silhouettes by
the veteran feminist artist
Joyce Kozloff
, who stood nearby, leading the charge.

Behind the gates, a phalanx of fellow artists, scholars,
activists, and poets representing the loose collective
We Make America
—including painter
Lizzie Bonaventura
, sculptor
Mary Frank
, critic
Melissa Ragona
, poet
Bruce Andrews
, and choreographer
Sally Silvers
—carried ocean swells, some with
representations of progressive women Democratic politicians
surfing the waves. The concept was, according to the feminist
painter
Angela Dufresne
, who carried a stick topped with a blue
curl, that “the gates open and the flood of the blue wave comes
flowing in, drowning the SS Shithole, a box of lies that’s
sinking. We’ve really made a focus on women of color who are
running in flip states… We need a serious left that is
organized and is ready to take back this country.”

On the second anniversary of the Women’s March, We Make
America’s mood—festive, determined—was representative of the
day, and its express goals were emblematic of the focus that
has developed over the past year. Today, as the official
Women’s March convenes for a rally in Las Vegas themed
Power
to the Polls
,” it’s evident that their message has been
absorbed, and the right is facing a purposeful, organized
opposition with an eagle-eye towards the midterm elections.

While the Women’s March was criticized in 2017 for its
perceived lack of focus, organizers both within and outside of
the official organization have spent the year channelling that
momentum into tangible results. In New York, roving teams of
volunteers were registering people to vote, while left-of-Dems
political organizations like the Democratic Socialists of
America marched in official factions. “It’s the entire
landscape, not just Donald Trump,” said Melissa Ragona, the art
critic and historian. “The wave is much more important.”

Jeanne Sullivan, a
venture capitalist
and cannibis activist/investor who lives
near to Trump Hotel and was protesting in front of it, said she
still remains focused on Trump and “his administration, how
unfair they are.”

“I believe it’s stupid white men that keep making dumb
decisions, and they don’t really care about the people, or the
programs and plans that could support people,” she said. “I’m
fascinated by the signs, because it really shows the fervor
that people have about what is going on, and that hey, we have
a chance to make change.”

The timeliness of the ongoing government shutdown cast an even
more urgent pallor upon the march, and its reasons were at the
forefront—signs representing immigrant rights, the continuation
of DACA, and protesting the racism of the administration were
abundant, as were signs protesting Republicans’ use of CHIP as
a bargaining chip in their fight against DACA.

Amelia, a 16-year-old student fron New York who attended with
her father, carried a sign that said her reasons for marching
are simple—she is female, immigrant, Latina, feminist—and said
that she felt the diversity of the movement has improved since
last year, when many
women of color
and
trans women
felt alienated from it. “I definitely see a lot
more, I wanna say, ‘familiar faces,’ and I wanna say I see a
lot more people fighting for immigrants’ rights. I see a lot of
signs just straight-up say, ‘We want more intersectional
feminism,’ so I’m happy about that.”

But have women’s overall political hopes changed since the last
women’s march? “Yes,” said Amelia. “I want it more.”

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