Dispatches From Trumpland Day 5: Protesting and Drum Circles
So, I went to my first protest ever last Friday. Here’s how it went and what I learned.
Immediately after Donald Trump won the election, I decided that it was time to stop lurking and get involved with my local socialist organization. I looked at organizations such as the Working Families Party — which I still support — and other traditionally democrat/liberal organizations. Socialist Alternative resonated with me the most.
I knew it was going to take more than meeting halfway or compromising. There is no compromising with people who do not believe in your humanity. There is no meeting in the middle with people who don’t acknowledge your concerns about police brutality, equality, income inequality, LGBT rights (because by God, my fellow Christians, they are our brothers and sisters ), racism, and sexism. I don’t want to meet in the middle because anything less than acknowledging and respecting the humanity of others who happen to look, love, or worship differently than you, is unacceptable and insufficient.
So, I protested.
I went to the Resist Trump protest that went down in Seattle last Friday. Let me tell you, I don’t go out on Friday nights anymore (#Hermitlife and #Domesticated), but this was very much worth it. So, let me help you naysayers on both sides understand why protests help and why they work.
First, let me describe the setting.
The first thing I noticed that let me know shit was real was when I saw the cops on horseback. They were all parked along the side of one building as the rally went on. Then there were the cops on bikes — droves of them — also parked alongside one of the buildings. If I wasn’t concerned before, I was concerned right then. I knew that we weren’t going to make any trouble, but it’s not like not making trouble saves you from getting your ass beat by certain cops.
I walked passed the police officers with my Panamanian flag and Mr. Robot mask with my head held high. Attending this protest was one of the most openly anti-establishment things I’ve ever done. Aside from being born black (and female), that is. To their credit, they kept a respectful distance from us and didn’t seem on edge. Vigilant, yes. Not on edge. Still, Seattle PD doesn’t have the best reputation, especially with minorities.
So, I protested.
I’m pretty introverted, but the feeling in the air was so charged with determination and defiance, that any social awkwardness that threatened to manifest itself disappeared. I draped myself in the Panamanian flag to make a statement. Earlier that day, Panamanians protested and burned Donald Trump in effigy. What can I say? We love a good protest. If you want to see community organizing in action, get a bunch of disgruntled Panamanians together. If they’re housewives? You bet your ass it’s going down. I protested for the future of this country, but I also wanted to remind everyone there that the nations and people touched by American imperialism were watching. And we are here as cautionary tales to our fellow Americans.
There were fiery speeches by women and comrades like Kshama Sawant who took Republicans and Democrats to task for letting the middle class erode. She may look small, but she’s got a big fire inside of her. I was incredibly impressed. She’s someone to watch in politics.
There were people of all races there. I saw a white comrade with a Black Lives Matter hoodie. At one point, one of the women speaking led everyone in a chant of, “Black lives matter!” I raised my fist for my children as I chanted. Not everyone chanted I’m sure, but I didn’t see it.
I’m going to be honest. It was quite comforting — in the way that you find comfort in someone who is helping you through your grief — to see white comrades out there in droves. It’s a reminder that not everyone has their heads up their asses.
Muslim, African-American and white sisters reminded us that when the time comes, it’s put up or shut up, except shutting up could mean disaster for the groups Trump is marginalizing. There were loud affirmations that we would protect our Muslim comrades — our neighbors — if Trump tried to round them up. I said a prayer hoping it wouldn’t come down to that because if it does… I don’t want to think about living in a time where that would happen. I would hope there would be rioting in the streets before we allowed human beings to be rounded up.
Yes, I said rioting.
The rally and pep talks ended and that signaled the beginning of the marching. I opted to join several fellow protesters in a drum circle courtesy of local Native American activists. It was awesome. It was one of the best experiences of my life, to be honest.
At first, we watched as the men and women sang in their language. I, unfortunately, did not catch their tribal affiliations as I got to the circle after they already started. We stood in the middle of one of the busiest intersections in the city. We were asked to join hands in a massive circle that covered every corner of the intersection’s sidewalks at one point. As the Native American activists and musicians began the song, they taught us how to step in time with the beat. One Native sister and activist encouraged us with words about love, unity, and life. The shadow of the Dakota Access Pipeline was definitely looming.
I was holding hands with two people I’d never seen before in my life. To my left was a younger white gentleman and to my right and older white lady. I noticed that the gentleman did not shy away from holding my hand. I wondered why I even had to wonder or assess this. Then again, there’s a lot of distrust and trepidation on the part of minorities after America showed its entire ass last year.
Still, I don’t believe God put us here to treat each other as strangers on this little planet we share. So I make a note to guard against illusions and focus on reality. I can’t lose my humanity. Then that orange buffoon really wins. I can’t allow that.
As the local news crew interviewed me and another comrade about why we protested, a white gentleman approached behind the news crew. I didn’t see him standing there until he spoke up. He was filming us with his phone. Then, he finally chimed in, ready for a confrontation.
“Would you have said that if a Democrat had been elected?”
I looked at him and chortled. I mean, I get asked these questions on Twitter by Trumpets — the similarities between the instrument and his supporters are too many to ignore, no? — so it wasn’t a shocker. I kindly told him that I’m neither a Republican or Democrat and I won’t stand for any conflict dreamed up by masters of war. He turned and walk away. I guess he realized he was not going to get a confrontation out of either of us.
Speaking of confrontations, one guy showed up dressed like a street hockey goalie with a speaker blasting some right wing pundit’s screed about Obamacare? I can’t remember. None of us paid him any mind and he eventually disappeared into the ether. I kind of pitied him. He should be celebrating his boy’s win, not trying to antagonize us Commies.
Eventually, things winded down a bit and I took my leave. I walked in the streets mindful that I was a potential target, but nothing happened. I made it back home soothed and encouraged by the protest, the speeches, and the drum circle. I saw people of all walks of life there uniting against this new American menace to society. I wasn’t alone. Not everyone there will actually have the ability or the will to fight, but most of us will. The rally and protest were our way of telling the world that we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore.
And you know what? It felt really damn good.