By: Izzy Wilder
In the midst of the craziness that is inevitable as a Georgetown student, it is difficult to even have an awareness of all that goes on in the Washington, D.C., area (and I’m someone who has lived in D.C. since before I could talk). Every week there are numerous theater productions, music concerts, museum exhibits, sports events and more; you name it, D.C. has it.
Just weeks after arriving as a transfer student at Georgetown, I found myself holding a poster of Munira Ahmed, a Muslim woman who became the iconic face of the Women’s March that took place on January 21, 2017. Seeing that image of her face draped in a hijab made from the American flag made me curious, and I quickly found that she was a 32-year old Bangladeshi American and a freelancer from Queens. The poster was created by artist Shepard Fairey, who had also done the Hope poster of Barack Obama, and the caption was perfect: “We the people are greater than fear.”
Months after the exhilarating Women’s March, we are still marching. As opposed to marching with my family as I did in January, this time I marched with fellow Hoyas at the September 30th March for Racial Justice. I was not only joined by a few new friends, but by thousands of people who came from different ethnicities, religions, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds. The march emphasized the government’s lack of attention toward matters of inequality; its goal, as stated on the march’s website, was to “create a just and equitable future for communities of color and others harmed by white supremacy, so that we may all thrive together.”
The march featured several female speakers, including Philando Castile’s mother, Valerie Castile, Gloria Steinem, Gina Belafonte and Toni van Pelt, among others. Each woman brought to light a different perspective. Valerie Castile, the mother of Philando Castile, who was unjustifiably killed by the police in July, 2016, reminded us that “racism is alive. It’s alive...I always knew there was a silent war on black people and people of color...but now it’s not silent no more…” Gloria Steinem, perhaps the best known feminist from the 1960s and someone whom I also heard speak at the Women’s March, told the audience: “We think that racism and gender, and all this bullshit is somehow human nature...it wasn’t always that way.”
At one point during the march, we were asked to turn to the people sitting next to us, and to introduce ourselves. Black people, white people, rich, poor, gay, straight, what we identified as didn’t matter, as it never should. We were all brought together by our desire for justice, and maybe just a little bit of Obama-esque hope in the discouraging days after events such as the white supremacist riots in Charlottesville, Virginia.
What I remember most about the day were the small things. I noticed a group of people who were walking around, offering free sandwiches and waters to everyone. There were people who had prepared handmade signs, and people who were stretched out on picnic blankets soaking up the sun. I was at the march with an anthropology major whom I had never met before that day, but now consider a friend. In spite of the enormity of the current political and environmental issues throughout the world, simply being surrounded by others who share similar beliefs on a beautiful fall day gave me hope. As a Georgetown student in 2017, I did what my generation does and posted a photo of myself, my new friend, and the Munira Ahmed poster on Facebook. In the photo, our faces look much happier than Ahmed’s defiant one. Perhaps Hoyas attending marches on the weekends won’t save the world, but you’ve got to start somewhere