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To Protest Is to Embolden Ourselves
Weaving Advocacy Into the Fabric of our Lives
A couple of weeks ago, I joined thousands of students and adults along the steps of Tennessee’s State Capitol building in Nashville. I was one bubble along a seething and rising ocean tide of anxiousness, anger, and sorrow over a local mass shooting that killed three children and three adults at Covenant Elementary School.
What I felt as I stood in that massive crowd was the comfort and courage that came with the solidarity and the physical presence of so many people. The collective energy and the noise we all made together felt so raw and visceral.
On that day, protesting felt good.
These protests set off a chain of events in which the Tennessee Three were kicked out of the TN legislature for speaking out on their behalf—sparking nationwide attention to the cause.
Of course, being a link in an active and emotional chain of thousands of people would feel empowering, but what about the other 364 days of the year when we mostly do not get to experience this in our daily lives. What then?
We all have different responsibilities that must be addressed to keep our lives moving. Jobs, children, utility bills, food, automobile expenses, and housing are among many threads that run concurrently through our days.
Could we all add one more thread? This would be a thread that addresses the bigger societal concerns that affect everyone. Most of us do not have the resources or time to protest every day, but maybe we can think about little acts of advocacy we can do daily or weekly in our neighborhoods and communities.
Here are some ideas:
Organize or volunteer for a voter registration drive
Attend local government and municipal meetings that are open to the public
Post art or photos on social media that address your concerns
Call your state or local representative and tell them or their staff how you feel
Make colorful flyers and banners for people to use at protests
Have ongoing conversations with friends and family members about where you stand on certain issues
Wear clothing with messages and imagery that reflect your beliefs
Though I highly recommend it, attending a big rally may not be feasible for some people, but protests can happen in our daily lives in even the smallest increments.
For myself, I will be using my skills as a filmmaker, musician, and visual artist more and more to advocate for LGBTQIA rights, climate change, immigrant rights, abortion rights, and anything else I believe in. Tomorrow night, for example, my multimedia show Ancestral Tongue will address colonialism and the beauty and challenges of being a fabulously queer and immigrant person of color in America.
The abysmal lack of substantive gun control laws is part of a much bigger problem. From watching the legislature up close, I see an authoritarian (fascist) threat that is real. The racism here in Tennessee harkens back to the 1960s—or even the 1860s. Much of the right wing’s biggest attack is against trans people. Similar ultra-conservative initiatives by Republican-led state legislatures are growing in multiple states across the country.
Change happens when people take action.
Nothing will change if we all do nothing. Wealthy people in power (in America, predominantly white males) will stay in power and advocate for their own self-interests.
Be emboldened. Be empowered. Be creative.
Think about a tiny, itty-bitty thing that you can easily do with the skills, time, and resources you have.
Just a little bit can go an incredibly long way.
Please stand up for and support trans folks. CLICK HERE to see how to help in all 50 states.
All photos by Roqué Marcelo except where noted.
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