WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) – Tens of thousands of activists marched through the streets of Washington on Saturday to protest the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as America’s 45th president.
The Women’s March on Washington drew a wide cross-section of hundreds of organizations, ranging from Planned Parenthood to the ACLU and AFL-CIO, all of which oppose Mr. Trump’s divisive rhetoric and administrative priorities.
While the Trump inauguration lacked serious star power, celebrities like Julianne Moore and Jessica Chastain also committed to join the women’s march.
Also happening this weekend, for those unable or unwilling to picket in the streets, DC entrepreneurs have concocted a way for dissenters to silently make a statement.
DC businesses unite
More than 120 D.C. restaurants, bars, distillers, and retail stores will donate a portion of their profits earned Friday through Sunday to local causes dedicated to diversity.
One of the charter members is Jose Andres. The Spanish-American chef is in the middle of a court battle over Andres’s decision to scrap his plans for a new restaurant at DC’s Trump Hotel, following the then-candidate Trump’s comments in 2015 painting many illegal Mexican immigrant as rapists and drug runners.
“There’s a lot of emotions surrounding the inauguration and we want ours to be really positive, one of love and inclusion and this is kind of our way of doing that, and it really reinforces how we connect with all the people who come into our restaurants,” said food and beverage manager David Fritzler of the Tryst Trading Company.
Fritzler’s employees and customers have responded with overwhelmingly positive feedback.
Many of their kitchen and service staff are of Central American descent and feel overjoyed to have the backing of their community.
“I think this is a really busy time for all of us, we’re going to be working really hard and it’s extra motivation to know that we’re not only serving our guests and all the visitors from outside,” said Fitzler, “but some of that is going to go directly back to our community and the people who help us as well.”
Focus on diversity
During the campaign Mr. Trump often spoke of helping women, “blacks,” and “LGBTQs,” but the overtures often left members of those groups feeling tokenized and offended.
“L-G-B-T-Q” didn’t quite roll off the billionaire’s tongue and the “Blacks for Trump” slogan never took off in minority communities.
In the spirit of celebrating diversity, public relations expert Sarah Massey and her friends in the DC service industry decided that inauguration weekend should train a spotlight on Washington’s rich history of diversity.
They came up with the idea to form “All in Service DC,” linking area businesses and charity organizations.
Less than two months later, All in Service is “booming.”
Massey smiled, “We’ve heard from local residents, people coming into town, and reservations are filling up.”
Not only has the number of participating restaurants rapidly multiplied since starting with a dozen members in December, customers are also clamoring to take part.
“People want to put their money where their mouth is and they want to show their generosity through this contribution. And they get that this is a program of love and of supporting our local community,” said Massey, who’s one of six volunteer organizers.
The nation’s capital is a colorful composite of ethnicities, religions, races, gender identities, sexual orientations, languages, and socio-economic statuses, making it the ideal place to highlight the importance of diversity.
A portion of each business’ profits will go to a cause of their choosing, with more than 30 options, which offer services like community healthcare, attorneys for undocumented refugee children, housing for at-risk trans women, and transportation for inner-city senior citizens.
Customers will also be able to pitch in extra money if they feel so inclined.
‘We welcome everyone’
The restaurateurs are quick to point out that at their establishments, diversity means diversity: come one, come all.
They’ll happily host anyone who walks through the doors.
“We welcome everyone with open arms, and I think that’s what’s really great about this program,” Massey added. “Regardless of whether you’re coming to the city to celebrate or to protest or you live here – and you want to do something great with your time and your dollars over that weekend – come to our restaurants and support our local charities.”
As you walk through the door, expect a warm atmosphere and friendly smiles.
“We have a lot of different ideas, different backgrounds,” Fritzler said of the diverse DC service industry. In keeping with their personal and professional ideals, he and others are now putting inaugural profits squarely behind their corporate principles of supporting diversity.
Follow Chance Seales on Twitter: @ChanceSeales