I’m sure you already know that protests against the President Elect Donald Trump have now been happening in major cities across the country. When I got wind that one was happening I wanted to go. Not because I expected anything to change but because I felt like it was the right thing to do. I wanted to be an active participant in this historical event. When my future grandchildren call me someday for a homework assignment and they ask me “Grandma, what was that like?” I want to be able to say that I was there.
I want to tell you more about the strangers I saw coming together celebrating their diversity. I saw women and men of all ages, colors, religions, and economic backgrounds holding space for each other to feel everything they needed to share. The messages of love, peace, solidarity, and compassion moved me to tears. And the people who wore their countries flags like shields of armor strengthened my belief that this fight was for something bigger than just the results of this election. It reminded me why this country is the leader of the free world. We have the right to be different and are yet still simultaneously Americans because of our differences.
I wish I could tell you I left this event as a shining ray of peace and light but I didn’t. As we marched around the city and through the streets the tone slowly became more ominous. I didn’t like it when my brothers in arms shouted derogatory insults to the citizens we were defending outside their homes defiantly raising their TRUMP PENCE signs. At first the majority was able to drown those moments out with more positive chanting. We marched on.
Then we got to the highway. A major highway. The major highway that runs across the state and through the city. The police team arrived with their riot gear. There were a handful of people that stood back to access the situation and decide if we were to continue. I imagine we must have been thinking the same questions. “Is this safe? Is this the right thing to do? Who’s in charge? Was this planned? I don’t want to get in trouble. That wasn’t the point of this.” I felt like little Jean Louise Finch. Once I realized that no one was egging on the police and people were trying to calm and focus anyone getting too heated, I decided to jump in. Is this what it looks like up at Standing Rock? Sure it’s disruptive and passionate but as long as no one’s getting hurt….
On one hand I thought that blocking traffic was a powerful symbol of awakening. There is a part of me that just wants to scream, “Wake up! Get out of your bubbles. Get out of your cars, your phones, your cubicles, and your mindless routine and really look at what is happening around you!” I couldn’t believe what we were doing. It was awe inspiring and terrifying. And this is where I started to get scared. Someone really could have gotten hurt as we rushed past train tracks, climbed over highway medians, and used ourselves as human traffic cones. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one but I always tried to stop and make sure everyone was safe. I pulled people out of the street and out of the dirt when they tripped. Even here, if someone started to show violent triggers the battle cry was “slow down, tighten up.” Once everyone was off the highway and safe I looked around and saw that the only people remaining with megaphones and who were trying to re-rally the troops had their faces covered and were shrouded in a cloud of rage, I left. I found out later that the original organizers of the protest left hours ago.
I don’t know if this had been more organized and planned, like if people knew what they were getting into, could this have gone any better. At least as far as I know, no property was damaged, no one got arrested, and no one got hurt. I do need to give this shout out to my city’s police department. Thank you for doing your job. Thank you for protecting our right to assemble and making sure we stayed safe. I’m so grateful that all I felt was a moderate uneasiness and not an immediate threat on my life.
I caught a cab to go home and I told the cab driver what had happened. He was an older African immigrant from some country I had never even heard of because it gained its independence in 1991. He asked me, “Do you think people can change?” I think so. He went on to say, “I think what we really need to do now is pray. Pray that people can and will do the right thing. In my country people would have died for trying to protest. Sometimes not even for a reason. This is a great country with a strong foundation. I can’t believe that people will be wrong forever.” When he dropped me off we both said “God bless you and this country.” I don’t drop the “G” word lightly. I got home, realized how sore I was, gave my kitties and extra squeeze, and took a bath.
I’m so grateful that I could go out and protest without a tangible thought of being killed. I’m grateful that I could walk in city streets in the middle of the night without a blatant fear of my safety. My little 600 Sq. Ft. apartment isn’t much, but I have enough. I’m so glad that I had people who love me and care about me enough to make sure that I got home okay at squeak o’clock in the morning. It’s taken me awhile to mentally and emotionally recover from this experience. My thoughts are a little more organized and my emotions have settled a little. I’m assuming that if you’ve made it this far you’re at least curious about my perspective. Whether that’s as a woman, a millennial, a pagan, a yogi, or some combination of the mix, you’ve chosen read one more piece about this damn election. I hope I can help shed a little more light on your decision on what the heck we do next.
Blessed be and Namaste.