When I set out to photograph the 2018 Women’s March in New York City, I had no specific goal or agenda. I knew I wanted to make portraits, and as many as I could, given the March only lasts a short few hours. Upon arrival, I was stunned by the overwhelmingly white crowd of over 200,000 people. I felt compelled to highlight the people of color who showed up in order to elevate their voices in the conversation, and approached my subjects from my perspective as a Syrian-American woman, but also as a woman who is white, and is cognizant of both.
Through interviewing and photographing each subject, I learned that the Women’s March is simply a platform — it’s the participants who bring the message. It’s about DACA, it’s about Black Lives Matter, it’s about reproductive health care. It’s about sexual assault, sexual harassment, work place discrimination against queer, trans, Latinx people, and the prison industrial complex. It’s about the women of color whose backs this country was built on. It’s about immigration. Puerto Rico. Education. It’s about bridging gaps. It is about a lot of things, to hundreds of thousands of people, who make up millions.
The importance of this must last longer than a day. I understand the opposition and I don’t blame those who chose not to attend. Not all women have vaginas, and not all vaginas are pink; we are not defined as the sum of our parts. Disrupt those spaces. People are deeply feeling things and care enough to have an opinion. I hope those opinions mobilize people.
To those who took the time to speak with me and shed their light, I am eternally grateful. It’s incredible what we may hear when we choose to engage one another in dialogue. Let's learn to ask, listen, and share more instead of just waiting for our turn to speak.
“My parents are first-generation immigrants from India. I would love to see our policy on allowing in refugees revert to what we’ve had in the past to where we are a nation that upholds values of democracy and human rights.” — Divya
“I hope a clean Dream Act gets passed and that we finally get paid family leave.” — Mi-Anne
"Black lives don’t carry as much value as the rest of the population. The goals I have are long term. We need better health care for black women; black women are having miscarriages and dying, postpartum, at three times the rate of white women. We have to overly advocate for ourselves. It's utterly ridiculous.” — Cheyney
“I’d love to see an end to the restrictive and regressive policies across the nation with regards to abortion, contraception, long-lasting contraception, sex-education, and reproductive rights.” — Sarina
“I was reticent about coming this year. As a woman of color, I feel a responsibility to be here, that East Asians show our support for our black brothers and sisters. Labeling East Asians as a model minority is just propping up the system of white supremacy that oppresses us all. I want to see more people of color at the front.” — Sharon
“It is a sin to deny people the right to have an abortion.” — Betsy
“I’m hoping that this administration will give the DACA dreamers a chance to have a life that’s free from fear of being deported to countries they have never been to.” — Wanda
“I’m out here to support immigrants rights. If my family hadn’t given up everything in the Philippines to give me a better life here, I wouldn’t be in this city, pursuing the career that I love, and be able to stand out here, honoring the people that came before me. I want to see more intersectionality.” — Raissa
“I want this to be less of a march and more of an actual movement.” — Audrey
“I’m here because I am an immigrant. By this time next year, I hope we all have back our natural human rights.” — Lionel
“I am the Vice President of a women’s empowerment non-profit called Luna Reflections and we service young women ages 6 through 21 to help them reach their highest potential. I am hoping the rape culture dissipates, especially for the future generations.” — Ally
"For people who are undocumented or came here on visas, they are now really threatened by the current administration. It feels every day is not guaranteed; your position as someone who is welcomed here to study and learn is endangered.” — Haley
“I was born in Jordan; I’m here today to empower Middle Eastern women living in the United States.” — Zein
“I’m here to remind people of our past mistakes in the hopes that we don’t keep repeating. I'm here to continue the legacy of the work of the women I represent. We need to get the parties to work together in order to move forward." — Elysia
“I am excited about the momentum that women’s rights have gotten over the last year; it's important in order for my son to have a better life.” — Jenny
“More than being against something, I feel like the power is being for each other. Instead of being against something, be for something.” — Riddhi
"My family – father, uncles, and brother, men and women – have served in the military for this country. Puerto Ricans are American citizens and we deserve to be treated as such.” — Denise
“I came last year and it was the most impactful day of my life.” — Carly
"I am protesting against those who think it’s fair to have only men be the power in the world.” — Scarlett, 11