200,000 marched in DC Heat — Report back — Circle Up

by Grace Nichols

WASHINGTON, DC: Darting in and out of the crowd, you could catch the energy and creativity of the groups. Huge puppets from El Puente; Reclaiming Appalachian (huge red flag and lots of marchers), right next to Southern Christian Leadership Conference on Environmental Justice and tons of local groups (don’t dump on our county etc.) from all over the South. They were shouting “NO Justice, NO peace.” and I felt right at home. My people are the ones who know they are being poisoned and who are mad as hell.

“We will NOT go away, welcome to your 100th Day!” Everybody yelled that at the Trump Hotel. There was a big trump costume, playing golf using the planet as a ball; there were very energetic college kids flapping their parachutes such that I could catch a breeze — oh, thank you!–

We did sit down at the White House, Clap a hundred times and “RISE”…. we did march down to the Washington Memorial where a huge screen movie broadcast the speakers from frontline communities and the arts organizations displayed their masterpieces.

Everything was very together; water tanks, port a potties, EMTs, everything as it should be. There were hundreds of thousands of clever signs, many based in science. It was really, truly diverse — something we keep aiming at, achieved. Folks from all over — from Healthcare, from athletics organizations, from hometowns, from huge cities. I marched with the Moms Clean Air Force for awhile. I was happy to see the Climate Reality Project. The Alternative Forest Service was celebrated everywhere.

And yet, why is it that the t-shirt I remember best was tangential: it read “I’ll believe corporations are people too when Texas executes one.” Ah well, I guess there was so much positivity that dark humor was welcome.

Because I had soaked the my Raven shirt with sweat, I put on my Albany March for Science shirt; some fellow marchers would should out “Yay, Albany” as I passed. That was cool.

As I limped back to the big rally lawn, we were serenaded with an honor song for the water protectors, which was just plain moving. Then, Kandie Mossett of IEN (Indigenous Environmental Network) came bouncing onto stage crooning I love you everyone… Dallas Goldtooth has just finished up.

Kandie said, brightly “Colonization robbed us of our femininity but we are reclaiming the feminine, and our femininity.” Well, there I was, soaked in sweat, with my left leg swollen twice its size with mottled skin due to kidney disease, over dressed for the hot weather cuz I can’t bear to wear shorts anymore (long cotton skirt next year, folks), and grumpy. But the kidney disease was, in fact, caused by colonial medicine – so I couldn’t argue. And, for all that, I made it, and the next stop was the big pool with fountains at the Veteran’s Memorial (WWII) where you could sit on some steps and soak your feet which I did with some really sweet people in saris who spoke Hindi but told me what time it was, so I knew it was time to hobble back to the bus.

Next year, I will probably will be in Glens Falls, in the foothills of the Adirondacks, where crowds are getting larger every year, and breezes are frequent.

But it was sure good to know that 200,000 (plus) people, people in their 70s, and 80s; people on bicycles and people with crutches, people from Native Nations, and people from small towns; people with privilege and people with none, all marched together, drummed, chanted and sang, in the 92-93 degree weather, in a more radical unity than I have ever seen on climate; I mean, the denial was not there. We were saying, “We want to survive; we want our earth to remain populated with species. We will not take no for an answer.”

I have belief that this is just the beginning of a more forceful set of statements and resistances; a collective ritual if you will. I think that people of all descriptions are resisting fossil fuel infrastructure and pollution all over this country, while local economies and communities wrestle with transitioning. I think people are making changes and ready to tackle necessary reductions in consumption. I don’t think we will accept less than Paris, and I do think we will will demand a whole lot more.

And while I yelled, ever faster, “I believe that we will win.” – I have never been much of a believer. But the evidence, that both vulnerable populations and the educated, employed and privileged classes are outraged, hot and bothered, is cause for hope. And rhythm and humor and action.

Published in June/July 2017 Newsletter
Save the Pine Bush Newsletter