Friday, January 27, 2017

Viva la Resistance

I began this blog as a way of documenting my wanderings and sharing with friends my experiences traveling around this wonderful globe. As such, this was never intended as a place to discuss politics or current affairs. However. The country where I was born, whose passport I must show when entering foreign lands has gone ahead and elected a boorish, mentally unsound geriatric prone to childish temper tantrums. Or let me clarify, a bunch of racist self-defeating fools who happen to live in states whose "electoral votes" are grievously over-represented voted in this global nightmare. (Note: For me the line between racists and those who don't identify as racists but were wholly undisturbed by the racist statements that defined his campaign is too fine to matter. They are racists just the same). The majority of us, nearly 66 million voters, did not vote for this dumbass.

I am disgusted. I am outraged. With every passing day and every small-minded tweet, I am more embarrassed by the actions of this vulgar, self-serving con artist. So when I heard about the protests planned for the day after the inauguration, I knew this was something I needed to be a part of.  I grabbed my knitting needles and started churning out pink pussyhats for friends marching throughout the country. I would not be going to DC. I was there for the last two inaugurations, memories that I will always cherish and that I refuse to taint with this sad spectacle. Also, I fucking hate the cold. I mean, I'll endure it to be there to see President Obama sworn in (twice) but for Cheetolini? Fuhgeddaboudit!!

There was a march planned in nice warm Miami, mere blocks from my home, that I would be attending. Or so I thought. At the last minute, I was called to Minneapolis, Minnesota for work. The first thing I did was google to see where the closest Women's March would be. I wasn't sure what I'd find. On one hand Minnesotans have a kick-ass senator in Al Franken. On the other hand, these people also elected lunatic and professional beard, Michelle Bachman. And I don't even know what to say about Jesse Ventura.

Fortunately, there was a march in St Paul, which is pretty easily accessible on public transit from Minneapolis. Better still, there were 20,000 marchers confirmed on FB. The second thing I did was google the weather. I was not quite as pleased with those results.

The morning of the march, the forecast called for low 30's and rain. I took out every single item I had in my suitcase and put on all of it. Every single item. 

Armed with four layers and one bright pink pussyhat, I hopped onto the city's light rail. My hotel was one stop from the beginning/ end of the line so the train was pretty empty when I got on but among the few passengers were three women wearing pussyhats of their own. We shared smiles and waves of solidarity.

Next stop, more pink hats boarded. And then some more... By the time, we transferred to the green line which would take us to St Paul, the train was wall to wall pink. The closer we got to the rally, the more the platforms were jam packed, so much so that the train was forced to keep going for lack of space. (I later heard that organizers tackled this issue by sending buses to the rail stations to shuttle the stranded marchers to the rally)

Once we reached the capital stop, volunteers were waiting to direct us to St Paul College, the starting point for the march.  Their directions were appreciated but not necessarily needed since thousands of us were now essentially doing the route in reverse.

The closer we got to the college, the more I started to realize the immensity of what was happening. There were men, women and children gathering as far as the eye could see.

I walked up to the top of the parking garage to get a better look and saw the steady stream of people continuing to come towards the lot from all directions.  There were high school kids, mothers pushing strollers, retirees...people of all age groups, ethnicities and religions coming together to fight back against the travesty of a human being that had been sworn in 24 hours prior.

In this growing sea of humanity, the mood was one of kindness and togetherness. Even as it got more crowded, there was no pushing or complaining, not even about the rain that continued to fall on us.

Several people in the crowd passed the time leading call and response chants to varying degrees of success.  Turns out that when you have so many causes represented, if you scream out "What do we want?" you will be met by a general silence punctured with a couple of random mumbles. My personal favorite was a chant of "Can't Build a Wall.  Hands too Small."  Later in the day, as we had marched right past lunchtime, I was convinced that we were (perhaps rightly) calling for ice cream, Only after listening a bit more carefully did I realize they were saying "Who's streets?  Our streets!"

At 11am, the march began right on time.  The plan was to walk less than a mile to the state capital. With the expected 20,000 marchers this should not have taken very long but something wonderful had happened. According to the final police estimates, somewhere between 90,000-100,000 had shown up. So many people did not fit into the parking lot of the college so you had masses of people converging onto the main street from different directions.  It took us close to 45 minutes to get out of the lot and onto the street.

At the capital, a stage had been set up.  We heard from congresswomen, senators, activists and one local rapper, all encouraging us to stay engaged,  This display of strength and organized resistance was precisely what I needed to snap me out of the depressed stupor I had been in.

All the speakers were as eloquent as they were impassioned.  And they occasionally lied (or at least encouraged others to do so).  In trying to get the crowd hyped up, they would ask "Are you cold?" and inexplicably the crowd would yell back "No!"  The lone voice screaming "Yes!  Very much so. And I think this is undermining our credibility to say otherwise!"...that was me.

But cold or no cold, I was proud to be amongst these amazing Minnesotans.  The next four years are going to be rough but I intend to keep that pussyhat handy at all times. Wherever there is a protest, whenever I have a chance to stand up to the troglodytes who would have us discriminate against our fellow man, I will be there.  Marches like this one prove that the majority of Americans are good and kind people, not at all like the short-fingered fuckface we currently have representing us.

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