With a smile, Julie offered, “Find the drummers, find me.” Along with advice on how to make signs, how to dress and how to handle hecklers, at the workshop on effective protesting that she and Dr. Robinson held, Julie emphasized how she liked to protest around people with positive energy. When she was around people like the drummers, she found that she was able to have more fun and even “move a little” – a statement she paired with an upbeat dance move.
So the day after at the Women’s March in San Francisco, when Ahab C. and I heard the drumbeat start, we looked each other in the eye with smirks and a mutual understanding: we knew how to find Julie. The two of us had been separated from the CPS group a while back. We had all convened at the rally to hear various speakers and singers: members of minority groups likes Muslims, LGTBTQ+ and black individuals. All of them had powerful stories to tell about their individual stories. But regardless of their differences in upbringing, they all conveyed that minorities and allies alike needed to unite against an administration that has no interest in protecting minority rights, that wants to ban immigration from Muslim countries, that wants to reverse Roe v. Wade, that wants to implement electroconversion therapy, that encourages racial profiling, that makes hatred the norm.
In the midst of song, chants, and rain, we started marching. As City Hall lit up pink in front of our eyes, our group came up with cheers – “I say ‘stronger’ you say, ‘together.’” People I didn’t know made eye contact with me, tried to read my lips through the crowd, through the din, and started chanting as well. The crowd around us swelled with the noise, united in a common ideology. Regardless of the results of the election, there were still people here, there were still people around the globe, that felt the same way I did.
About an hour in, Ahab and I had officially lost the rest of the group; we had gotten a bit too carried away trying to follow the drumbeat.The funny thing was, we didn’t even manage to find it. Instead, we found a group of women all dressed in yellow dancing to a playlist of songs about empowered females. Dancing with them was a celebration of our individuality, a proclamation that we were still here and still had a voice. We could still be bright and loud in the face of adversity.
But the Monday after the march, Donald J. Trump reinstated the Global gag rule. It seemed so clearly correlated to me. Women had spoken out against him, and he struck women around the world right where it hurt – their reproductive rights. Any US aid to foreign hospitals would not be able to be used for abortions; doctors could not even discuss them with their patients. And if they did, any US financial aid would be cut. I was struck by the vindictive nature of the man we now have to call our President.
I was demoralized; I had felt like my voice, along with the 3 billion other individuals who had march, would be heard. I thought it would make a positive difference in the way Trump would govern the country. But that first week made a brutal statement: he didn’t care. First it was the gag rule, then the executive order to build a wall, then the executive order to ban immigration from muslim majority countries, an executive order to block federal funds from municipalities that would not comply with his executive orders and so on.
It wasn’t until I talked to my brother that I began to see the silver lining. Since people had been protesting the immigrant ban, the confines of it were gradually redefined; people with green cards would be allowed to enter and legal immigrants would not be questioned. The immediate effects of the protests were small, but they were something. And after the four years of Trump’s presidency, the democratic party would come out stronger; with each protest, we will hone our voice and define our collective purpose. Each of Trump’s actions will call us to evaluate what we believe in and what we don’t. We will learn how to voice our opinions in the most effective, loudest ways. When election day comes in 2020, we will be a more cohesive, powerful force. So, go speak your mind.