Rising our Voices

Patricia Jackson

Taunts and threats cannot silence our voices. From the moment he leaves Trump Tower to his arrival in Washington, D.C. for the Inauguration, President-elect Trump will be greeted with a wave of protests and marches that will become a tsunami throughout the country.

Our current political and social crises expose a nation of divisions, simmering for decades in a pressure cooker of inequality, exploding now with the ascension to the White House of a man who threatens our right to protest. Trump wanted protestors thrown in jail. And stated. “I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell ya.”

The prospect of a Trump era of regression − rolling back the ACA, Social Security, Medicare, women’s rights, undocumented rights, environmental protections, plus a repressive cabinet − has generated nation-wide resistance. On January 21, 2017, women will come to Washington, D.C. and hold sister marches in cities here and other countries. The Women’s March calls for moving forward, not backward, on women’s equality, reproductive rights and healthcare, racial justice, LGBTQ equality, non-violence, economic opportunity, and environmental justice. Co-chairs of the march emphasize it is for any person who believes women’s rights are human rights. “Women from all walks of life coming together ― that’s what resistance looks like,” Carmen Perez, a co-chair of the march, told HuffPost.

All women will be represented: women of color; lesbian and transwomen women who have been harassed and attacked; Jewish women, Muslim women, young women and older women; mothers whose children need healthcare and affordable education, mothers whose children need a path to citizenship — not fear of a Trump repeal of DACA; women whose husbands are incarcerated, whose children are trapped in the pipeline of schools to prisons; mothers who lost their sons and daughters to police killings and drive-by shootings; mothers raising children alone who can’t afford day care; women water protectors, marching against climate deniers who endanger Mother Earth.

We know Trump did not win the popular vote. Resistance grows from many organizations and coalitions across the country: From the Center for Biological Diversity’s Earth2Trump caravan with a Trump Action Toolkit to thousands attending #J20Resist, to plans for the People’s Climate Mobilization, April 29 . It continues nationwide.

Protesting is an American tradition that has evolved into positive social changes for the whole society. Protests of the ’60s brought the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. From the first Women’s Rights Convention, (1848, Seneca Falls, NY), until 1920 with the passage of the 19th Amendment, women protested for the right to vote. Workers protested and held strikes for better conditions, child labor laws and a 40-hour work week. The Environmental Movement, beginning with the first Earth Day, 1970, has preserved our natural resources and compelled into law the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and establishing the EPA. The Occupy movement began in 2011 spread like a prairie fire around the world sending the message that 99% of us are under the domination of the 1% − the wealthy.

Social media increases ways of organizing. Three Black women created #BlackLivesMatter after the murder in 2012 of 17-year-old African American Trayvon Martin to protest his murder and killer, George Zimmerman, being set free. The Black Lives Matter movement focused attention on all forms of racism in our society from blatant murders of Black and Brown youth, and transgender people to the mass incarceration of Black men. It galvanized multi-racial coalitions of supporters. Black Lives Matter has become a driving force for social justice today.

Everyone is granted the right to protest under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Protesting can be writing letters, joining or giving funds to an organization.

In the coming days, be inspired by remembering Professor Anita Hill, in 1991, facing a panel of all white male legislators making degrading remarks about her character, as she testified to sexual harassment by Clarence Thomas. Legislators then dismissed Thomas’s harassing actions by confirming his nomination to the Supreme Court. Because Anita Hill spoke her truth to power women filed thousands of EEOC harassment cases. Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1991. We elected a record number of women to Congress the following year. Today, anti-harassment policies are included in workplace training programs.

There has never been a time in our history when we have allowed our voices for justice to be silenced. It is no time to stop now.

Patricia Jackson is a community activist and a Public Voices Fellow with The OpEd Project