Women’s marches define what already makes America great

Approximately+5%2C000+local+men+and+women+gather+at+West+Side+Park+before+marching+through+downtown+Champaign+on+Saturday.+Columnist+Shankari+Sureshbabu+encourages+citizens+to+continue+voicing+their+opinions+and+standing+up+for+their+beliefs.

Angela Kerndl

Approximately 5,000 local men and women gather at West Side Park before marching through downtown Champaign on Saturday. Columnist Shankari Sureshbabu encourages citizens to continue voicing their opinions and standing up for their beliefs.

By Shankari Sureshbabu, Columnist

The world watched as Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the U.S. And in protest, the women of America marched. In D.C., Chicago, New York City and even on our own campus, millions of women and men came together to express objection to the inauguration our new commander-in-chief.

They wore bright pink “pussy hats” and held up handmade signs that said things like, “Women’s Rights are Human Rights,” “Grab ‘em by the patriarchy,” and my personal favorite, “Hell hath no fury like 157 million women scorned.”

I was hiking in Turkey Run State Park while this happened, slightly bitter that I was missing out on this monumental moment in history. I watched the messages, pictures and tweets roll in from my friends as they marched in various cities.

What struck me as truly amazing about the march, was not only the hoards of women worldwide that came to object to Trump’s backward and disrespectful philosophies about women, but also that we live in a world where our voices are being heard.

To add another immigrant’s tale to the mix: when I was five, the two coolest places in the world (in my mind) were New Delhi and America. When I was six, and moved here, I walked into a Wal-Mart, with Barbies and candy in every corner, and I thought I was proved right.

I later learned about the melting pot, women’s suffrage and the civil rights movement, and felt safe knowing that I was part of a society that always, to me, chose the right battles, and erred on the side of justice.

Then wretched 2016 came around, and Trump won the primaries, the election, and seemingly the acceptance of many in the society I thought was too good to make an intolerant, ignorant and clearly inadequate person our president.

But despite this disappointment, I am giddy with excitement and pride when I see my friends unabashedly standing up for their rights. The thought that our ideas and actions can have the power to influence and to be so consequential is undeniably exhilarating.

As Elizabeth Warren said in Boston: “We can whimper, we can whine or we can fight back. Me, I’m here to fight back.”

The importance of this power to speak your mind and influence history does not go unrecognized by me, and it surely does not go unrecognized by the millions of women and minorities my age, defending rights that they shouldn’t even have to ask for.

In a time when I have to check and double-check the legitimacy of everything I read, it’s a relief to know that there is still one undeniable truth: there are millions of people still on the side of diversity and tolerance who are actually taking this whole “leader of the free world” thing seriously.

As we grow older, the power to shape history not only sits in the palm of our hands, but rests on our shoulders. I am quite clear about the side that I lean on, but advocating for what you believe in is important regardless of your political preferences.

As for those who went to the march today — those who regularly defend the rights of others and those that protest bravely and will again — I commend you for not sitting idly by in the face of injustice. Here’s to four more years of nasty women making history.

Shankari is a sophomore in LAS.

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