Potucek: Women’s March Showed OC Awakening

Rachel Potucek

“Who are we? The Majority!

What do we want? Equality!

How do we get it? Unity!”

On Saturday January 21, I joined women and men from across Orange County to participate in a local “sister march” in downtown Santa Ana, accompanying over 600 marches around the world (including Antarctica) in partnership with the Women’s March on Washington.

I had started volunteering with the organizers a few weeks prior to event day. With festival production experience up my sleeve, and living in Santa Ana, I thought I could lend a hand with logistics. I was stationed at the volunteer and VIP tables throughout the day, where we met many people and handled the normal various operations of outdoor festivals. I arrived at 7:30 AM to see marchers already parking their cars and assembling at our rally point. By 9:30 AM, crowds had overflowed past Plaza Calle Cuatro to fill 4th Street for blocks. Many volunteers and I were overcome with emotion and awe.

The Women’s Marches surprised us all, and Orange County’s was no different. Most marches doubled or tripled preliminary estimates. The Santa Ana Police Department estimated 20,000 in attendance – doubling official registration estimates. The OC march was so large that it snaked the entire 1.1 mile route, connecting end to end.

I met volunteers and marchers from across Orange County, from deep south county to the inland empire, and met up with lifelong Santaneros, too. I was curious for everyone’s impressions. Most struggled to find the words to express their overwhelmed emotions. We often agreed that we had never seen anything like it.

While OC’s blue cracks may be long showing more than ever, Saturday’s march revealed a potential intersectional powerhouse that I hadn’t been expecting. White feminists marched arm in arm with men, people of color, all faiths, immigration activists, labor unions, and LGBTQIA activists. We joined in support of one another, and of one another’s struggles. Our unity has become our golden opportunity to break into a healthier space for mutual understanding.

Thanks to the Women’s March, Orange County’s progressive communities have new room and opportunity to unite on issues ranging from housing, health, social justice, fair pay, immigration, education to equity, and this work is sorely needed in our communities. Although Orange County voted blue in the 2016 Presidential election for the first time in three generations, long-simmering struggles for Orange County’s working classes, immigrant communities, and aging white populations are only going to become more severe unless action is taken.

The Women’s March was a calm, blue tidal wave that ushered in America’s new “moral majority:” a coalition the believes America is great when all its people are great. I saw many

families and children, elderly men and women, and husbands and fathers walking with their young daughters. This was a gathering of everyday people who do not want a fearful future. They are eager for a better political future. Perhaps OC is much more ready for progressivism than many expected — but only if we keep walking arm in arm.

Rachel Potucek, Santa Ana business owner 

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