The Girls!

Odessa Simone Shlain Goldberg

WriterMill Valley, CAPhotos by Lauri LevenfeldStory by Odessa Goldberg

Show Me What Democracy Looks Like!

 

This: millions of men and women of all ages across the world peacefully protesting for what they believe in, is what democracy looks like. This past weekend I along with many others took the streets. On Thursday afternoon I boarded a plane with my dad, mom and sister to the capital of our country: Washington DC. I wore a shirt with suffragette emblazoned on it. On the plane, many people wore pink pointed hats in defiance.

 

It was my first time in the capital. Wide eyed, I gaped at the Washington Monument swathed in night. We pulled up at the Watergate Hotel, the infamous hotel where the Nixon scandal occurred. 

But this hotel has embraced the scandal, making Nixon’s resignation speech what it plays when you’re on hold. The next morning I awoke at noon, thoroughly jet lagged. We turned on the TV in time for Trump’s inauguration speech. It felt surreal to be in the same city as him and I watched bewildered as he proceeded to insult everyone surrounding him. As we walked into the lobby I saw my first “Make America Great Again!” hat in person, the bright, unnatural red unnerved me.

 

 

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As we walked along the Potomac, I got a good glimpse of the other half of America that I was ignorant to: wearing bright red hats, pins and shirts. They were proud Trump supporters, happy and patriotic. It was hard not to accuse, to attack them for voting for such a dishonest, unqualified, immature showman. I wanted to point at their pins and say “Do you know what he said about women, veterans, disabled people, Muslims and foreigners and so many more people?” I wanted to shake them out of their ignorance and I wanted to pull myself out of mine, because I knew I was just as guilty.

 

So I walked beside them silently, gawking at the Lincoln Memorial. I hated that I wasn’t wearing anything marking my views, but it made us blend in among the Trump supporters. But I grinned at fellow pink hatted protesters. The mood was solemn, it felt as if we were in a slow funeral procession. The weather seemed to share our sentiment as heavy, droopy clouds and light rain intermingled through the morning. Emptiness permeated the grounds.I gazed up at the Washington Memorial, the real thing magnificent compared to the photos. It poked against the sky. We wandered to the museums, but weren’t admitted, because they were full. While walking along the streets, deserted because of the inauguration, we heard shouting in the distance. We walked closer. As the shouting came closer we saw that it was a parade of protesters. “No Trump! No KKK! No Fascist USA!” They chanted in rhyme. My family joined in: tired of walking along side all these Trump supporters. My energy poured into the crowd…

and I was rewarded. I shouted and stamped my feet. Together, we stopped a series of Trump busses peacefully.

 

Later that day we went to a screening of my mom’s film: 50/50, the past, present and future of women in power. The film was released 2 weeks before the election, due to usher in a new era with our 1st female president, but instead we have Trump and the film became even more poignant. When we arrived at the screening, we were back with our people, with our liberal democrats talking about feminism. Something restrained in my chest was released.

 

The next morning we woke up early for the Women’s March, already the mood seemed to be shifting in DC. I pulled back on my suffragette shirt, my blue blazer, 50/50 temporary tattoos on my cheeks and fists and a white rose (what the Jews wore in Germany when Hitler rose to power) pin. We made our way downstairs to an overwhelming majority of pink hats and bright signs. Excitement twitched in the air. We drove to a spot several blocks from the march to meet with Refinery 29, an American based fashion, style and beauty website that my mom worked with for her new film. We purchased pink hats and adorned them proudly.All of Refinery 29 were all dressed in stylish, artistic clothing with loud posters and the venus symbol on their cheeks. After several Facebook Live sessions we began making our way to the march.

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First let me explain: the streets were already congested with strong women and men in pink with posters. Blocks away from the Women’s March, the march was already going strong. Kinship forged just through the act of walking, marching next to each other for something we both believe in. We laughed at funny signs, sighed at poignant ones and envied brilliant ones. We were swimming in one of the pink arteries of the march, and as we neared the main artery  we neared the capital building. Again, I was wowed by the sheer strength and history of the capitol building. I ran forward ecstatically, weaving through crowds of fellow protesters. From the top of the hill, there were protesters as far as the eye could see. The Women’s March had swallowed DC whole. The raw power emanating from the crowd was extraordinary. We were taking over Washington, we were standing up for our rights and expressing our opinion. We were powerful, and we were the resistance.

 

Soon the crowd slowed to halt, information was fed through long, distorted grape vines. Pressed up against one another, we shared backgrounds and stories. I met men and women from across the country:

young and old, short and tall, immigrants and natives. We were all in this together, the sense of family was encompassing. So wildly different from just a day previous. Soon, we understood that we were behind the stage with the speeches. We could faintly hear music and people talking. 11am to 1pm they promised us. At 12:30 my feet began to hurt, at 1:00 my back ached. There was no way to move, nowhere to breathe.

 

Although it was debated whether we should go, I truly wanted to stay in this close knitted crowd. We pushed our way forward, squeezing through oceans of people. Finally, we pushed our way to the front of the stage to listen. We saw the Indigo Girls, Amy Schumer, Madonna, Angela Davis, many famed activists, we saw a Rabbi and a Palestinian hands raised together, we saw immigrants and the mothers of Black Lives Matter movement, popstars and professors, most of all we saw strong women guiding through ‘Trump Land’.

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When finally, the march did start. We were in the middle of it: chanting, raising our posters and stomping our feet. It felt like a gigantic wave whooshing down the streets of DC, a wave of feminine power. As we marched past Trump International Hotel a new chant broke out, “Shame! Shame! Shame!” Protesters filled the empty bleachers for Trump’s inauguration. As we marched to the White House, we yelled to Trump, “Welcome to your first day! We are not going away!” We marched next to Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and started chants on our own accord.

Finally, when my feet were torturously raw and our backs ached we left the main march. We climbed onto one of the bleachers, looking over the massive crowd: the Capital to our left and the White House to our right; I have never been so proud of our country.

 

Stay tuned next week for Odessa Goldberg’s full story on TPFG. Odessa is a 13 year old writer in California and a contributing editor for The Project for Girls.

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2 thoughts on “Odessa Simone Shlain Goldberg

  1. Odessa
    You are awesome. Not only a beautiful young lady but an incredible writer with so much talent.
    I am so proud of you.
    Your glamma

  2. Oh Dear Odessa – you inspire me . Your natural spontaneous goodness shining since I first laid eyes on you – 14 years ago. Amazing grace!

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