Power of Protest

We are truly living in a historic era. Donald Trump has won the presidency of The United States of America and many are finally seeing this country for what it has always been: a white man’s empire.

Los Angeles, CA. Marilyn Hernandez

In the last couple of nights, multitudes of of people have congregated for peaceful protests in all major cities of the United States including Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and Portland. Colleges and Universities up and down the California coast and in other states have particularly taken a call to action in opposition to Trump’s rise to presidency.

The night following the election, one of the first major protests was held in front of City Hall in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. Thousands gathered with posters and pickets that read the obvious “Fuck Donald Trump”, and reassured that “Black Lives Matter” and “#NoDAPL”. Every member of the crowd was there with a purpose, to support the oppressed peoples and to use the curent momentum and anger caused by Trump’s uprise as a tool for their cause. At this time, many of these protests have a clear message: Donald Trump should not be the leader of the supposed “free world”.

After assembling for about an hour in front of City Hall, protesters decided to take to the streets of Los Angeles for a peaceful march. There were chants shouted from the likes of “hey hey, ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go” to “say it loud, say it clear, immigrants are welcomed here” and “pussy grabs back”. It was interesting to consider that Donald Trump is a representation of every single social issue that this generation faces. He has insulted and degraded women, slandered people of color, threatened immigrants–the list of indecencies can go on and on. Trump is an opportunist who scapegoats minority groups for the ills of America. He is representation of present-day American society–a society that deserves some scrutiny and reassesment.

protesters shutting down the 101 FWY. Los Angeles, CA. Marilyn Hernandez

The purpose of protest is to disrupt the society that endorses the oppression that exploit minorities for the benefit of white male supremacy. People complain about their time and money being wasted due to the disruptions caused by protesting, but why do we never hear those same people complaining about their tax dollars being used for disruption and tyranny by the American government all across the globe? Americans spend hours of their days working for this money to benefit an establishment of power that kills millions of innocent human beings in other countries as well as our very own. An establishment that exploits African American and other people of color by incriminating them and monetizing off of their imprisonment. An establishment that does not consider the well-being of its people if that well-being potentially jeopardizies the status quo and by proxy, their money and power.

Many who argue the validity of protesting claim that it is a disruption of people’s time and that nothing will change in consideration towards these protests.

But it is important to consider this: protesting is a valid way for people to express themselves. The streets are public spaces for the people’s use, and should be used accordingly to stand alongside one another in a time of grief, anger, confusion, and fear. These protests have a deeper meaning aside from letting Trump know that minorities despise him because get this: he already knows. Protesting may have zero power in how he shapes his policy and may have no effect on the outcome of the next four years under a Trump presidency, but being able to exercise freedom of speech and standing up for what you believe in holds remarkable power for the souls of the masses. Standing alongside those who feel the same passions as you is extremely comforting during such devastating times. People are distressed, many are scared for their futures and their lives. Arguing against the validity of protests is in no way operative in taking any steps forward for the well-being of humanity.

The Times-“this is very bad”. Los Angeles, CA. Marilyn Hernandez

Who are you sticking up for when you demean protests? Who are you defending when you shame those who are willing to stand up for themselves against white supremacy? is it America? is it the country that claims it will be better with out the immigrants that  actually make this country what it is? It is so trivial to beat down the people who, at this point, don’t have anything else to lose. There are  people of color and minority groups that will continue to suffer regardless of whether Donald Trump’s feelings are hurt. These people will continue fighting for respet and dignity, regardless of whether white people are insulted by this.

We must remember the words of Malcolm X in a period of criticism towards American government:”you’re not to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it”. If we are to live under American authority, we must remain alert and criticize every aspect of it to keep its jurisdiction in line and force it to serve us the way it claims to. We must recognize that the structures of America, including the flag and the constitution were established by and for white America. We hvae undoubtedly made progress since our country’s inception, but it has been long and arduous journey–we cannot revert back to the previous ways now.

Ultimately, Donald Trump is our president and we are now aware that a big portion of the American population agrees with what he stands for, as if it wasn’t obvious before. For those of us who oppose his devisive ideals and rhetoric, it is crucial for us to stick together and speak up against these atrocities. It is imperative for us to understand one another and be compassionate towards our people and their rage. It is simply selfish for individuals to claim that if it doesn’t affect them, it doesn’t matter. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion, but what good is voicing these opinions if it in no way does anything for anyone?

On the steps of City Hall. Los Angeles, CA. Marilyn Hernandez

If you don’t agree with the protests, then stay at home. Your opinion is in every way valid, but trust me when I say you do not gain anything from going out of your way and trying to shut down people who are sticking up for what they believe in. You are in no place to criticize violence and destruction within these protests if you have never ever spoken up about the violence and destruction that is inflicted on minorities on a daily basis.

To those who voted Trump or support his views, or didn’t vote for him but encourage minorities to “respect our president”: quite frankly, you don’t have any right to tell anybody how to react to this. You have no right to tell women who have experienced sexism and now fear that rape culture is prevailing to calm down. You have no right to tell Muslims who fear for their lives on a daily basis and feel they need to hide their beliefs for their own well-being to calm down. You have no right to tell black folx who have been living this reality of hate towards their existence for hundreds of years to calm down. You have no right to tell undocumented immigrants who are afraid to open their doors because their hopes and dreams can be robbed any second to calm down. You have no right to tell LGBTQ folx whose rights to love and control their own bodies are at risk to calm down. You have no right to tell anybody to calm down just because you see no issue in this monster being our president.

If you voted for him, and you feel you are being “attacked” for being a bigot even though you claim not to support his views on these things, then I have three words for you: suck. It. Up. You voted for this man, now you have to back him up the way you backed him up in the voting booth. It is understandable that our presidential candidates weren’t easy to pick from. But if you voted for this man after witnessing his blatantly offensive statements and his utter lack of temperament, then you have to be just as transparent as him and admit that you are in favor of what he stands for. It is not fair for you to say you don’t fully agree with him if you voted for him, because ultimately you took time out of your day to support him and it is time for you to be transparent and honest with this support in front of everybody who will be affected by his power.

If you respect this man and what he stands for, or respect him simply because he is now our president, then be honest with yourself. Don’t you dare say that you care about minorities and their well-being. Their well-being is clearly not your priority if you are willing to defend such a vile, disgusting human being because you claim to want a better economy, gun freedom, or whatever else he promised. I hope those of you in favor of him enjoy all these “improvements” that will “make America great” while the rest of us suffer for your benefit.

Fuck White Supremacy. Los Angeles, CA. Marilyn Hernandez

To white people: it is understandable for you to be experiencing white lash. You claim everything will be okay. “Wait until something bad happens and then protest”, guess what—bad has always been a reality for minorities. “be strong”—Why do we have to be strong? Why do we have to wait and see how much more we are able to endure? Why can’t we just live.

Deeming the groups explicitly targetted by Trump’s rhetoric as overdramatic in their period of grief is in no way helpful.

Failing to understand that you can never be fully in our shoes only adds to the issues at hand. You have never experienced life in a society that hinders and despises your very existence, if ever so subtly but often quite blatantly. Recognize your position in this society. Understand that you benefit from the oppressions of minorities. Stand back when it is their time to speak because ultimately, you will never be directly affected the way they will and you do not have nearly as much to lose as they do.

In an obvious way, Donald Trump has successfully brought to light the oppressions that have always been the backbone of American society: racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, the list goes on. Those affected have been passive for far too long, trying to conform to what a valuable member of society should be like. Now is the time for us to use this visibility of oppression to target every single issue that is fueled by white supremacy. All these “Not My President” claims do not necessarily serve any positive purpose. Donald Trump is our president. We can’t deny this fact the way we have time and time denied the injustices that occur towards minorities across the nation. “Not My President” erases the facts. Instead of denying and ignoring Trump’s bold rise to power, we should embrace it and value its visibility to incite change. TRUMP IS OUR PRESIDENT—we should say it loud and clear, we should not forget who he is and what he has done. We can no longer be comfortable with white Amerikkka, we must act now.

Red White & Blue. Los Angeles, CA. Marilyn Hernandez

During this period of emotional and political turmoil for many Americans, it is crucial to understand the importance of solidarity. Yes, we are all human. Yes, we all have the right to our own opinions. But at the end of the day, we all have the duty to understand that different people have been affected by white supremacy in different ways historically and have had to face these oppressions every single day of their lives, even before Trump rose to presidency. These oppressions have been bestowed on minorities without them having any say. Being aware of our positionality in modern-day Amerikkka is the only way in which we can withhold from fostering these oppressions that have ALWAYS been alive and well in this society.

City Hall November 9, 2016. Los Angeles, CA. Marilyn Hernandez
Los Angeles, CA. Marilyn Hernandez
Los Angeles, CA. Marilyn Hernandez

3 thoughts on “Power of Protest

  1. This article is straight fire and reminds us why we must remain strong and united against Trump. It is truly empowering and boldly expresses the struggles that millions of Americans (have) face(d) on a daily. Thanks for writing this! ❤

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