So when I heard that a women's march was being organized for the day after Trump's inauguration, I suspected that it would be big. The march wasn't about reproductive rights, or racism, or gender equality, it was about all of those things -- that women's rights are human rights.
Only Lindsey was interested in coming with me. Marissa was worried that people were going to get hurt; she didn't want to come near it.
After hearing Marissa's concern, and seeing pictures of this sign at the march in California, Marissa's hesitation gave me pause.
|"I'm gonna see you nice white ladies at the next #Black Lives Matter march, right?"|
Living in Minneapolis, I've had lots of opportunities to get involved in various demonstrations and protests. Yet I never stepped forward before, nor would I have had my children attend, either.
I had to ask myself, "Why?" The struggles for equal rights is real for people of color -- why haven't I joined them before? It's not that I don't care or haven't considered participating; I have friends who are very involved and they frequently have invited me to join them at various rallies and gatherings.
The answer was easy: I did not feel safe at those gatherings. And not for the reasons you may think.
Let me tell you the story of another march.
This past November, Black Lives Matter organized a march involving Minneapolis Public Schools. Students were invited to take part by leaving their classrooms near the end of the day and gathering in downtown Minneapolis in a route approved in advance by the city. The children of friends and acquaintances took part in this, leaving Southwest High School and walking down the street with signs and banners, then made their way to downtown Minneapolis to join the students from other MPS schools.
Once near the US Bank stadium, on the previously approved march route, police pepper-sprayed the crowd. These are high schoolers, kids from 14 to 18 years of age. My friend's 14-year-old daughter was traumatized by the experience, her eyes swollen shut, her emotions raw from the chaos and fear of the incident.
The media did not cover the peaceful gathering, the police "protection" which turned into violence against the students. It was just another protest by another disgruntled niche of our diverse society.
Need you ask, it was mostly students of color who participated in this march. Their Caucasian counterparts did not join them. If they had, I suspect the police response would have been very different.
In thinking about these two organized demonstrations, I felt safe taking part in a march of what turned out to be nearly 100,000 people, and did not feel safe in a group of 100 people.
This realization told me so much about myself and about our society. I cannot begin to understand to the frustration that people of color feel at being squelched when they protest their treatment. But I can try to relate. And I can stand up for them any way I can, with my voice, my calls to lawmakers and my vote.