I feel it’s necessary to start off by sharing that up until January 21st of this year, I had never marched or took part in public displays of protest which might seem surprising considering the fact that I grew up in D.C., our nation’s capital.
But I think growing up in D.C. is one of main reasons why I never felt a strong pull to march/protest. As a kid, public displays of protests were always viewed as “other” and when I say “other”, I mean that I saw protests and marches as something that people from out of town did… Out of towners who came into town and disrupted the daily flow of life for locals like me a.k.a. the large group people who live in D.C. and have absolutely no connection or interaction with the politics that the majority of the world associates with this city (or so I thought).
Then as I transitioned into adulthood, I came to see the act of marching/public protesting the same way I view the institution of church in that just as I don’t believe that one has to go to church to be religious, I don’t believe that one has to march or publicly protest to stand up for their beliefs.
Whether it’s making donations to organizations or campaigns that are aligned with my values or pulling my money away from businesses that don’t, volunteering, making better food choices as it relates to climate change or talking to people about social justice/human rights issues on a more 1 on 1, intimate level… I personally prefer to do my protesting behind the scenes and not bring too much attention myself in the process.
Fast forward to present day Setarra and the various layers of realization that only time and growth can unveil + my focus on manifesting this year… I’ve come to realize, in the words of Gloria Steinem, that “sometimes we must put our bodies where our beliefs are” and also, I shouldn’t “knock something until I’ve tried it”.
And that is how I found myself marching at the Women’s March on Washington and protesting against the immigration ban outside of the White House.
With that said, below are a few of the many reasons why I chose show up at these events:
I believe I should have the right to make decisions for myself, especially as it pertains to my own body.
I believe in the need for a sustainable care taking of our planet Earth and it resources.
I believe that BLACK LIVES MATTER and that we don’t live in a post-racial America.
I believe that if my Mom, a refugee who came to America with my maternal family during the Cambodian genocide in the 70’s, hadn’t been granted entry to this country, I wouldn’t be here and, very likely, she would not be alive today.
I believe in the separation of church and state.
I believe that the definition of what it means to be an American today is objective in ideals but subjective in real life. It’s a definition that has the influence to bring us together or tear us apart depending on how it’s interpreted or manipulated and I want to do my part in actively defending what it means to be an American for me and my community.
I believe in the power of the people and in the power of love and kindness and empathy.
Participating in the Women’s March on Washington was beyond what I had hoped and expected it would be. It was a comforting, energizing and inspirational march to be a part of especially with it being my first experience of this kind.
But here’s the deal.
I showed up to the march with my tribe of friends plus my blogger boo Valla, I marched with my tribe of friends, and I left with my tribe of friends. There wasn’t alot of interaction with other marchers except for the occasional “I love your sign” or “Can I take your picture?” which left me wanting more.
And then with the protest outside the White House in opposition of the immigration ban, I found myself in the same position of wanting to engage on a more personal level with the people around me.
Looking back on both these experiences, I realize that I should’ve stepped out of my bubble and reached out to strangers to ask “Where they were from? What made them want to march or protest? How were these issues were affecting them personally? and What were their plans to continue the resistance after the march/protest was over?” instead of waiting for people to reach out to me.
And so, that’s what I plan on doing at the next march or protest I feel the call to attend.
Because while I understand that the main point of a march or protest is to show solidarity for or against an issue and how inspiring it is to see complete strangers come together and unite for a single cause, the introvert in me wants and needs to engage on a more personal level at these types of gatherings to make it work for me, if that makes any sense.
A few additional thoughts…
– I think one of my main concerns with January being such a reactionary month in response to P45’s many executive orders, is that those citizens who oppose his administration’s agenda will burn out fast because, I don’t know about you but, I’m already mentally and emotionally exhausted and we’ve still got 3 years and 11 months to go… As such, I recommend that you choose 2 to 3 issues that really resonate with you (as apposed to trying to do everything) and dedicate your time and energy towards working for or against policies around those issues whether publicly or privately.
I also know one family that has decided on a “1 rep” rule = if there’s a protest or town council meeting taking place, etc., they always make sure to have at least 1 person present if the whole family can’t make it. It’s a tag-team approach Charles and I are considering adopting for ourselves and also on bigger group scale among our friends and family.
– With regards to the 52% of white women who voted for P45… I honestly don’t know what to say about how to address this demographic because the truth is I don’t interact with many white women on a day to day basis and so the opportunities to engage in a safe, open conversation to understand and/or influence their views are very rare. The only 2 women I know who voted for P45, I work with them and I don’t feel comfortable bringing up politics at work so I kind of feel stuck on how to move outside of my bubble and find these women to engage with. The only thing that comes to mind is to start walking up to white women and asking if they voted for P45 and want to talk about it but that feels a little too aggressive and similar to random people asking me if I’m Christian so they can try to convert me when they find out I’m not <- if I don’t like this approach then why would I expect other people to like this approach, sooooo yea. I’m stuck.
As a result, my focus is on the vast number of people of color who didn’t vote at all last November because the reality of the situation is that I do personally know a decent amount of people who chose not to participate in our past election. And so my goal is to engage with those people in my community and do what I can to help develop an understanding that their vote does count and that their active participation is sooo needed. We need to organize our communities and get people out to the polls for the next major round of elections on November 2018 and 2020.
– While I am now open to the idea of marching and publicly protesting, I still prefer to do most of my “resistance” behind the scenes. There really is no one singular right or wrong way to go about doing this, you just gotta find what works for you… There are alot of ways to get involved and have your voice heard without physically going somewhere and Amanda wrote a very informative post that lists the many options available to you should you feel the need act on your beliefs – check it out here.
In conclusion, if you feel the call to march or protest publicly, do it. If you don’t, that’s ok too because there are many other ways to be involved if you disagree with our country is currently being governed. Just don’t not be involved, pretty please.
And that’s all I’ve got for you today… A somewhat coherent post summing up the jumble of thoughts that have been swimming around in my head these past couple of weeks.
Sending massive amounts of positive and restorative energy your way as we roll into the weekend.