On Fighting for Justice
To me, protesting is a natural phenomenon. It is part of the human struggle. Why? Because this is not a naturally fair world. From a young age adults always told me that Life Isn’t Fair. I thought they were just being cynical, but it’s the truth. The world is tilted to be easier for those with power. Proof lies in the 300 serrated teeth of a shark, the deadly venom of a black mamba or incredible speed of a cheetah. Food and territory comes easier for them. Humans are no different, except we create systems to establish our power. Money, societal position, race, gender: have the right combo and food and territory comes easier for you.
Then again, humans are different. We can harness our creative minds, our critical thinking to shape a world that works to benefit all. We can shift and shake the foundations of power.
What adults failed to say to me, and what I filled in for myself was, “Life isn’t fair, but you can fight to make it so.” That is what protests are, a chance for the ignored underclass to voice their griefs and begin to enact a change.
I write about this now because there are many voices out there trying to make Anti-Trump protests seem pointless and unjustified. Their argument is nothing new. There have always been people who are against these demonstrations, whether violent or peaceful. They hate what we do either way because they only want silence and compliance. People in positions of power will never be okay with protests and disruptions. So pay no mind to those who question your reason for going to one. Pay no mind to those who tell you it does nothing, because they are wrong. A quick scan over America’s history will show you that any progress we have made today was pushed along by protests and mass demonstrations of dissent. Whether it creates immediate change or eventual change protests are imperative to creating a more just world.
On Peace or Violence
More than 11,000 people gathered in Los Angeles on Saturday November 12 for an anti-Trump march. There was a lot of buzz in the media in the days prior. Many people were concerned about whether or not it would turn violent or remain peaceful. In fact, anyone commenting on the Facebook invite and posts were stressing that it remain peaceful. It was a trend that bothered me because it highlighted the hypocrisy of those people who call for peace.
I discussed why we protest, and why we always will, but now the question is violent or peaceful? Both, is my answer. To express our dissent and push toward change there are going to be both violent and peaceful responses. The violent responses are no better or worse, they are just more shocking.
A violent protest is radical, risky, blunt. It’s the friend who tells you straight-up what’s wrong instead of holding your hand first. It has no time for games and singing and clapping because lives are on the line. It directly challenges what Americans claim as right and wrong or good and bad by firmly positioning itself between both; it shatters our ideas of morality. It begs you to ask Can’t We Just Be Peaceful so it can ask you Why is No One Helping Us?
Sometimes peaceful protests are necessary because there are many people waiting for us to do anything shocking, in order to distort the purpose of the movement. They want any excuse to discredit our actions and call us wild. In that case, I understand restraint. I understand that this is why organizers of the Anti-Trump rally in Los Angeles were promoting it as peaceful, and were proud of the fact that zero people were arrested, and that everything remained orderly. However, we must work to eradicate the stigma against more radical protests. As stated before, either way people in positions of power will not like our protests, but they loathe anything that makes too much noise.
So make a lot of it. Because we are going to need a lot of noise and chaos to disrupt any silence over the next 4 years. We need to jolt people awake, force them to watch, and force them to ask why we have to make this much noise just to be heard.
Hope. Connection. Community. Strength.
As you march forward, you pause to look around. You knew it before, but now it is ever more clear that you are not alone in your declaration to fight for justice. You run to the sidewalk and out of the crowd because you need a better look, you want to be sure; and there it is, thousands of people fill the streets for miles and miles, chanting in unison with raised fists. This gives you hope.
By now your voice has gone a little dry and sweat drips down the side of your face, but still you march forward. You reach a freeway overpass and see hundreds of cars slowed down in traffic. You and others put your fists in the air and you hear a honk. Then another. Then several all at once and the people in the cars are raising their fists in solidarity or throwing up peace signs. And you feel connected.
In your journey, you turn into a tunnel. There is a part of you that is scared. What if there are too many of us and we get stuck and suffocate from lack of oxygen? What if a riot starts right here and everyone begins to run and people get trampled on? But it’s too late to turn back, so you march forward. The concrete walls quickly encircle you and pulls people tighter together. Then something electrifying happens: your voices echo off the walls and amplify into one concentrated mass of sound. Together, you were louder than ever. And in that moment, you knew you were part of a community.
Your legs are tired and your feet hurt, but still you march forward. Before today, you felt lost and sad, unsure of what lies ahead, unsure if you are going to be able to fight against this new beast. You lock arms with your best friend who joined you and together you chant: El pueblo unido jamas sera vencido! You chant: My body my choice! A baby girl hanging over her mothers shoulder looks at you and smiles. You think: this is for her, this is for my sisters, this is for my cousins and aunts and friends and teachers. This is bigger than me. And you pull strength from that.
One and Done
The world is tilted to be easier for those with power, but that does not mean we can’t tilt it back. Protests are one way we can demonstrate that we are going to fight for a fair world, but going to one, then going home and forgetting about it will not create a lasting effect. It takes just a little more participation than that to make our government work for us. It takes, as Noam Chomsky wrote, “sustained pressure that keeps building, organizations that keep doing things, people who keep learning lessons from the last time and doing it better next time.” So get involved in your local government, speak out against hate speech, call your local officials, stay informed, and always ask questions. There is a lot of work to be done, but when we unite, we can win.