You Are Not Equal. I’m Sorry.
Dina Leygerman
20K1,226

Dearest Writer,

So, after having taken the time to read your words, I have a few things to say.

There seems to be a trend lately in the news and media, a very distasteful one, and that is becoming upset with people not turning out to your events. Our dear President has done it, and I've seen several writers, you among them, do the same. And, in the same vein as our President, you seem to be omitting some very important things.

You appear to be coming down on people who didn't attend the March. You call them "keyboard warriors", or make them appear as if they somehow aren't aware of their own troubles, the fact that they're a woman, or the myriad of statistics that come with the package. Although I am not a woman myself, I'm sure that even those who did not attend the March are aware of this. Moving on.

As per the trend, you omit the other side of the issue. Your portray non-marchers as lazy, as uninterested in their rights, as somehow lesser for not having the "courage" to be out there with all the "warriors" who ended the day without a single arrest. But there is, in fact, another side. The side of people like Ijeoma Oluo, who critiques the non arrests and why that is being hailed as a success, who herself did not March.

Or the side of Jamilah Lamieux, who also did not March, and explained expertly why.

Or Johnetta Elzie in her poem asking where all these women were during the other marches throughout the years.

Or the 230 arestees detained the night before your March, caught up in a wave of anarchy and vilified journalism

In other words, as many narratives do, your narrative completely circumvents any reasoning as to why some may not have decided to March.

Maybe they were already at the protests the night before. Maybe they had protested back during the campaign. Maybe they had another protest scheduled the day after. Maybe, like many people of color, they felt betrayed by the lack of support they had received through years of activism, and were unwilling to help those who just now found a reason to care.

Your narrative, while beautifully written, is flawed in its assumption that only those who decided to March are somehow justified in their anger or emotion. You, despite seemingly belonging to the side of justice, use the phrase "keyboard warrior" as a put down, as if there is only one way to protest.

What about the many journalists who are constantly targeted for their online work with death threats and mail?

What about those who go onto radio shows - - as I have--and voice dangerous ideas and unpopular opinions on the government and race, with our names out in the open, free targets for all those who don't believe in our causes?

What about old time resistance writers, who may have been unable to March or fight, but lent their hand to the cause as best they can?

See, the pitfall of belonging to a collective mind like this is you begin to believe your way is the only way to be right. Protesting and marching isn't about counting numbers, or critiquing those who did not join in. It's not about bragging or boasting of your activities, or pretending like it was easy when you remained faceless in the crowds, maybe unharrased by police or coworkers.

It isn't about expecting praise or any sort of heroism. It isn't even about heroics. And it's definitely not about accusing those who don't resist in the way you want them to.

It's about our words, our beliefs, our efforts, large and small, our contributions in our own ways. It's about the spirt of the cause, of the movement. And while I'm sure it's easy to be caught up in the wave of protesting--many I remind you for the first time in their lives--what matters even more is what comes after.

It matters if these people decide all causes are worth marching for. It matters if they go out again, or if they write articles (sorry, keyboard warriors), if they are willing to tarnish their good name, the names of their loved ones, again and again, in defiance of the popular power. It matters, in other words, if they continue to fight, or if they wash their hands of all this rebellion and claim their one good day is enough for them.

While I respect your words, as a fellow writer, and while I respect every person out there who walked, what I don't appreciate is all this high-horsing and soap boxing when many of the people you try to put down are used to being arrested for marching, having husband's beaten, having brothers shot, having their inboxes overflow with threats and hate. Many of these people fear becoming enemies of the government, or putting their families at risk. Many continue to work in their own ways, through the radio, magazines, forums, classrooms, and, although you disapprove from your height, keyboards.

I hope you continue to fight against all the injustices that are sure to come, but don't become so inflated that you believe there is only one Ism or resistance technique to live by. Any resistance is good resistance. Don't ignore the racial divides, the long standing distrust of "new comers" to the resistance, or the myriad other reasons why THIS March may not have been the one of the century.

We're all on the same side, although we have different ways of showing it. Don't forget that.

Sincerely,

A Sometimes Keyboard Warrior