As someone who was traveling in Asia during the election results, you can say that it was hard to have fun abroad knowing the madness that was going on at home.
Most of the Americans travelling beside me claimed they didn’t want to go back; they’d rather flee the headache. But the political situation motivated me to get actively involved.
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade protest seemed like the place to start, the place where a collective could have their voices heard: because so many people would be there, because it is located in one of the largest cities in the US, because our message would be loud and apparent.
There was some unease and concern about my attendance. Many of my friends and family were reluctant. “Be careful,” they said, “this isn’t the way to go about this,” “don’t get arrested,” “just stay home and watch it on TV.” Still, this protest felt necessary. My first thought on returning home to the so-called ‘Land of the Free’ was to get out there, to mobilize, and while going out the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving (apparently the largest party night of the year) seemed like a tempting option, this protest seemed more important.
When we arrived at the parade, holding signs while others wore smiles, there was a sense of dissonance. “Ugh, why do you have to ruin a beautiful, happy parade?” was what the eyes of the (mainly white) crowd were telling me.
What most people don’t realize, especially the ones who blatantly opposed our position by screaming “Trump Won” and “Get Over It”, is that this is about more than just Trump. The protest was issue-oriented, particularly towards standing in solidarity with the indigenous people of Standing Rock, North Dakota. It challenged our society’s fantasy image of what Thanksgiving means, and brought to light the harsh reality experienced by indigenous people and their allies right now.
We know that these conversations are not easy, but we cannot passively cheer for a nationalistic holiday that has lost its meaning and is flooded with commercialized motifs, while our representatives are failing to address or create solutions for concerned people and our water protectors.
Remind yourself: the point of protesting is not to ruin someone’s day. Rather, we participants are doing it because we love people and we care about their rights and representation.
Photo via Lisa Dillon/The Upstander