Essay #4 of the 52 Essays in 2017 Challenge.
This is my response to those who believe it's somehow "unpatriotic" or silly or useless to participate in mass peaceful protests.
We, as citizens, have every right to engage in peaceful noncompliance. We have every right to mobilize in masses, to gather, to speak our truths. And not only are we legally guaranteed this right (what a lucky position to be in!), we are morally called to do so. Patriotic dissent is a necessary part of any functioning democracy -- we do not, in America, live in a totalitarian regime. Critiquing our nation's leaders and their actions, regardless of political affiliation, is obligatory. We do not kowtow to demagogues, presidents, and political leaders. We make our voices heard. We ARE this country.
Our nation's timeline is dotted with protests, civil gatherings, and historic marches that sought to bring people together and change certain painful realities. Realities like, you know, the bedrock of racism that our country was founded upon. Realities like the resulting racism and xenophobia that range from the venomous to the garden-variety, that permeate our everyday lives. Realities like our sexist social system that exists as a result of hundreds of years of patriarchal structure. (Among *many* other forms of oppression and inequality.)
The ONLY way forward, the ONLY way to progress, is through peaceful nonacceptance of those things that we know, in our very hearts, to be wrong. Silence is simply not an option in the face of injustice. And if you think sexism & misogyny & racism & xenophobia & homophobia don't exist, or just "aren't so bad", then you are choosing not to listen. I encourage you to do so. I plan to.
Do you want to know some things that I consider to be unjust? Do you? Calling black people lazy, for one. Bragging about grabbing women's genitalia, for another. Mocking disabled people and threatening our public school system and refusing to back down from an endorsement by the KKK and calling Mexicans rapists and saying that women are "pieces of ass" and writing off climate change (you know, science) and calling for a Muslim registry and deeming all refugees "terrorists": INJUSTICE at its finest.
You will not get silence from me, anymore. I am bone-tired of people in power oppressing whole swaths of citizens.
I'm still processing what it felt like to stand amidst a sea of 40,000+ people, on a day when millions of others were making simultaneous history. But I did process this: This march was only the beginning. And while Facebook activism can be helpful in some ways, there are other really meaningful ways to enact concrete change: We can call our Congresspeople, donate our time and money to causes we hold dear, learn more about legislative advocacy in our communities, attend city council meetings, go to marches, subscribe to email calls-to-action, be proactive bystanders, vote in local elections, call people out in public when they're being sexist or racist or homophobic.
I want to be a better activist. And I plan to. Let's all hold each other accountable, shall we?
So, watch out, DT. Because #thefutureisfemale, and the future is black, and the future is brown, and the future is queer, and the future does not look like a homogeneous sea of white male leaders. The future does not entail refusing to take care of our planet and ALL our brothers and sisters. The future is not white supremacy and it is not misogyny and it is not greed and it is not hate.
I look forward to the next four years.