What I Learned From My First Protest Ever
Before yesterday, I had never protested anything in my life.
Growing up, I thought protests were silly. Just didn’t know why they were needed. Only in the last couple years did I realize why I felt that way. I’m a white male that was given every opportunity to succeed in life. Protesting something means you want the status quo to change, and why would I want that to happen?
At 39 years of age…I now realize how silly that sounds. So I put on a pink hat and marched yesterday here in Dallas.
So many people came.
The Dallas march was not near the size of other cities, but I think many were surprised at the number who showed. It started in front of city hall and went for couple of miles until we reached the spot for the ending rally. Local elected officials showed up to lend their support, and every single interaction with the police was super cordial.
Women of all age and colors were in attendance. From the battle-tested ladies who have been fighting for equal footing for decades to little girls who were accompanied by mothers trying to raise them right. It made me wish my seven-year-old could have been there with me.
I saw husbands supporting their wives. Men who wanted to support co-workers. Families who marched together. Millennials and Baby Boomers arm in arm.
We were all there, excited and upset.
Then came the chants.
I’m not too proud to admit it made me a little self-conscious. There were the more generic ones like,
“What does our democracy look like? This is what democracy looks like!”
I can get behind that. We are expressing the same rights as the folks who threw the tea overboard. Others were a challenge for me mentally.
“Women united…can never be divided!”
Wait, I’m not a woman?!? Why am I chanting about women being united? I mean, I do want that to happen, but I don’t understand the struggle women have in the world because I’ve never walked in their shoes. It started an internal conversation where I asked myself a few tough questions.
Are we all here united? What right do I have to chant along these amazing, strong women? What does chanting along with them say about me and my beliefs? Do I really believe in this cause?
Am I in the right place if I’m asking all of these questions about myself?
We were all angry.
The rally at the end of the two-mile march was quite a site to behold. I was expecting it to be more of a celebration of such a large group gathered around a single cause, but I was wrong. It was energetic and somber at the same time.
It’s a strange thought to say people are gathered together and angry for this small-town Texan.
We were upset at the things our newly inaugurated president has said before, and continues to say. We are angry that his administration continues to press policies that negatively affect women and minorities in this country. We’re nervous that the health care legislation the previous administration fought for will be cast aside so quickly.
The best quote I heard was from a local rabbi who prayed at the rally.
“We stand because we are angry. Upset that some are being neglected.”
He would go on to quote Dr. King that the march was “praying with our feet.”
That is ultimately what the event taught me. My colleague Katherine helped me understand that men have just as much to gain from women’s rights as she does. Being upset in my head has gotten me so far, and I can’t be silent anymore.
I’m not going to turn my Twitter account into rants against the administration. Family gatherings hopefully won’t turn into arguments over policies. Don’t plan on unfriending any who disagree with me.
But I won’t be silent, sitting on my hands anymore.