Rebels With Numerous Causes
Every October the North Carolina State Fair rolls around and my friends ask if I'm going. I say no. They ask why. I say I'm not a seven-year-old. They tell me they go for the food. I say I don't want dirty carnie food. More importantly, I hate the obnoxious crowd. I don't like being shoulder to shoulder with people who make no attempt not to bump into me, or even apologize for doing so, while compulsively eating a giant turkey leg which was prepared by a dirty carnie.
Despite my passionate hatred of crowds, the election of Donald Trump has forced me to participate in several protest marches. Quite surprisingly, I've found them rather enjoyable. If you haven't yet taken part in a march, I highly recommend you do so because it's awesome. Some friends have expressed concern over counter protesters and violence at the marches. I haven't experienced anything of the sort. Should you take my advice to participate in a march and find yourself in a violent surrounding, it's important to remember I'm not responsible.
I shall now share with you the experience of my first protest march, which was the Moral March in Raleigh, NC. People were super friendly and nice and they apologized for bumping into me. Before the march began everyone gathered at the designated meeting spot, and for reasons I'm not totally clear on, we had to pray for a freaking hour. Reverend Barber was the main speaker so I expected a prayer, but representatives for every religion spoke and they each opened with a prayer. I'm sure at some point even God was like, “Jesus Christ, I heard you the first time.” Although, if I have to pick a favorite prayer, I'm going with the rabbi. He opened with, “Shabbat Shalom, y'all.” That was hard to top.
For quite some time I'd been making the point to my dumber friends that Trump and all the “American Carnage” that comes with him is a bigger, crazier, deadlier issue than the regular conservative versus liberal nonsense. To my delight, one of the religious leaders made the same point during his prayer/speech. It may have been the Buddhist. I don't remember and I was too far back in the crowd to see him. Anyway, the Buddhist, or perhaps the Wiccan said, “This is not about right and left. It's about right and wrong.”
To move through the crowd, people had to cut through a small triangular patch of flowers. I noticed people were stepping into the dirt on their tippy toes so as not to trample the flowers. When you're with people who won't trample flowers to get to a porta potty, you know you're on the right side.
Once the prayer/speeches ended, the march began. It's hard to gauge how big a crowd is when you're in the middle of it. I later learned thousands of people attended, which explains why there was a lot of waiting around for our turn to march. While waiting, we read signs, took pictures and chatted with strangers. At one point an old hippie lady pet my hair, which was creepy and yet, oddly soothing.
Listening to other people's conversations, which is not eavesdropping when you're in a crowd, was also quite amusing. (A friend told me eavesdropping is sometimes referred to as ear hustling. I don't know if this is a phrase in widespread usage, but I think it should be.) A couple of older ladies behind me were discussing Saturday Night Live. One was explaining to the other how she had to go home and take a nap so she could get up to watch the show later. I was tempted to explain how the DVR, Hulu, YouTube and the NBC app made it possible to watch SNL without disrupting her normal sleeping patterns. However, I realized it would be like explaining the same thing to my mother who doesn't, “do computer,” and thought better of it.
Finally, it was our turn to march. A little tip on protest marching, don't lose your friends. We worked out a little “Marco Polo” routine to find each other should we get separated. But don't use that. If everyone is playing “Marco Polo,” I'll have no way of knowing which “Polo” is my friend or the weird hippie lady who wants to pet my hair. Please use your own friend finding game. Perhaps, “Hot Potato, Cold Potato.”
Apparently, chanting is an important part of protest marching. There were a few chants where one person yelled the first line and the crowd yelled the second line. For these it may be useful to bring cheerleaders or former cheerleaders to your march. A few examples of these are:
Cheerleader: Forward Together!
Crowd: Not One Step Back!
Cheerleader: Tell Me What Democracy Looks Like!
Crowd: This Is What Democracy Looks Like!
There were also several versatile chants, which is quite important when protesting so many policies. A few examples of these are:
No Hate! No Fear!
Immigrants Are Welcome Here!
No Hate! No Fear!
Muslims Are Welcome Here!
Simply enter the name of any group currently being banned by the Trump administration whom you deem welcome here.
Another good versatile chant is the “Hey, Hey. Ho, Ho” one. Again, simply enter the name of any person, group or policy you believe has got to go.
Hey, Hey! Ho, Ho!
Donald Trump Has Got To Go!
Hey, Hey! Ho, Ho!
HB2 Has Got To Go!
We chanted and marched until we got as close to the Capital as we could, which turned out to be three blocks away because thousands of people showed up. We weren't close enough to hear the speeches, so my friends and I moved to a side street to watch the other marchers. Shout out to the good people of the Subway restaurant on that corner for allowing so many of us to use your restroom without making a purchase. That was way cool of you.
So we're hanging out when along come four old men with drums and one woman with a wood block. They move to the middle of this street and start drumming it up. They're at it for a while when the coolest chick in the world shows up. She lays her purse and jacket by the curb, then runs out into the middle of the street and starts dancing by herself. Everyone cheers her on and she's at it for several minutes before a tall, skinny, white guy decides to join her. (You may wonder why I chose to point out this guy was white. I will tell you. I'm a white woman. I've danced with many white men in my life. White men are typically poor dancers. They are stiff and awkward. It's like dancing with Frankenstein.) To my surprise, this tall, gangly, white guy was a pretty good dancer.
More people started joining in and before we knew it, the street was filled with people dancing. Men, women, babies, everyone was feeling the groove. Literally, babies were dancing in the street. Another old hippie lady joined in with a tambourine. A horn section arrived seemingly out of nowhere. I say, seemingly out of nowhere, because I didn't see them arrive. They started playing along with the drummers, the woman with the wood block and the hippie lady with the tambourine. One of the horn players had a purple trombone. That is the only time I've thought of a trombone as cool.
All this spontaneous music and dancing in the street made me feel like I was in an episode of Fame. As a matter of fact, I'm going on eBay to find a pair of Fame leg warmers like I had when I was a kid. I'm totally wearing them to the next march. (If you're too young to remember the TV show Fame, it was like Glee, only dumber and weirder. But it did star a young Janet Jackson. Take that, Glee.)
After about ten or fifteen minutes, the music stopped and everyone hugged the coolest chick in the world. No one touched her purse, which was laying by the curb the whole time. After hugging the coolest chick in the world and resisting the temptation to steal her purse, everyone went their separate ways. Presumably to have lunch. Because that's what my friends and I did. Also, it was noon.
Trumptards have been criticizing these protests by saying we're protesting everything. Because we are protesting everything. Because everything they're doing is so clearly evil. As I looked at all the signs that day, it's true we have a lot of causes, but every one of them is a battle worth waging. I shall now list some of the most important causes and what makes them so urgent:
Cause: The travel/Muslim ban.
Urgency: Every time a judge rules against it, an angel gets his wings.
Cause: Twenty-six billion dollar wall on the southern border.
Urgency: Mexico isn't paying for that stupid wall and I'm not either.
Cause: Separating immigrant children from their parents.
Urgency: Who's taking care of these babies?
Cause: Abortion ban.
Urgency: Who's taking care of these babies?
Cause: Defunding of Planned Parenthood.
Urgency: My uterus yearns to be free.
Urgency: Four out five doctors recommend it.
Urgency: People living in gerrymandered districts don't know the definition of gerrymandering.
Cause: Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos
Urgency: See Gerrymandering.
Cause: Legalization of Marijuana
Yeah, so, there was a group carrying “Legalize It” signs at the march. While I'm on their side, we really don't have time for this right now. There is a valid point to be made that people are serving ridiculous prison sentences for possession of weed. But it is legal in some states. So if you can't go without smoking, maybe move to one of those states while we're working through the Trumpocalypse.
My pothead friends, I promise we'll get back to you as soon as we straighten out all these other messes. For now, be cool.
Photo by Friends of the Earth Scotland from Scotland || CC-BY-SA-2.0