When you gather 200,000 incredulous, passionate progressives in one place the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, you’re guaranteed to encounter enough protest chants to leave your throat red raw.
There are the earnest chants– “this is what a democracy looks like”; the funny variety– “can’t build a wall, hands too small”; and the surprising type– including my personal favourite, “we want a leader, not a creepy tweeter.”
But despite the variety of call-and-response chants I encountered at the Women’s March today, I did a double take when I heard a nasal voice behind me initiate a chant I haven’t heard since moving to the USA: “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!”
The nasal voice belonged to a tall bloke clutching his young daughter’s hand, I discovered as I twisted around to deliver the obligatory response: Oi, oi, oi!”
The father and daughter duo was just one small portion of the Australian contingent at the Women’s Marches in New York, Washington D.C., Chicago and other cities across America today, on Trump’s first full day in office. And as I discovered throughout the afternoon – when Australian after Australian complimented me on the “Aussies Against Trump” sign I carried– many of us feel just as desperately worried about Trump’s election as the locals.
America might not be our own country, but its successes and failures feel like our own. The second-generation migrants at the march today wearing “refugees welcome” badges are fighting the same battle against xenophobia as many of my mates at home. The two women marching to my left — and stopping every so often to kiss passionately in the middle of the crowd — fought the same fight for marriage equality that many Australians are still stridently fighting. And the women in the crowd who’d helped their small daughters hand-paint signs reading “girl power?” They share the same hopes for their kids as any Australian parent.