On the days since Donald Trump has been elected there have been large numbers of demonstrations throughout the country. I was at Trump Tower the night after the election when emotions were at a peak and many were settling into the shock of what had just happened. There were several reasons I had gone to demonstrate. The most powerful one was that I couldn't shake this overwhelming feeling that a large majority of my country voted directly against the humanity of myself and many others, causing a deep sense of loneliness. During his entire campaign we had spoken out against the threatening ways he had discriminated against marginalized groups. We told our white friends and co-workers that our dislike was not about policies or candidates but about our humanity. In turn, we were presented with the stark realization that they did not care to understand. So I went to protest that night, in part, because I wanted to feel less alone.
The demonstration started at Union Square and when I arrived many were standing quietly. Most of us there were in our 20's and I could feel a sense that this was the first time we realized how deep the hate and injustice resonated in this country and our ideals of what being American meant had been shattered. A young man came up to me and asked "Can I hug you?" We hugged and began to cry. Another girl, again in her 20's, joined us and it felt so good to know that I was not alone in my despair. The evening went on and the demonstration became more powerful and outspoken and it ended with us walking to Trump Tower and shouting about our hope.
I'm describing this experience because since the election I have seen a rise in a shared sentiment from the right asking "What's the point?" I'm told my protesting will not change the end result and that it is a fruitless effort to waste my time in the cold declaring my opposition towards Trump. They do not understand that protesting isn't only about expressing disapproval. Protesting is just as much about expressing your approval for what is right as it is your disapproval for what is wrong. It's about showing those who are voiceless and afraid that you will be a voice for them and you will be seen.
What protesting does is it creates a cognitive community for those sitting at home to know that their thoughts are being shared and heard through us. Protesting allows us to organize and tells politicians that if we are ignored we will come together to create change. Protesting is not fruitless. Protesting is a key competent of a government ran by people. Protesting gives us and those watching who are with us, a space to feel safe. Once we have arrived to this space we are able to heal and collectively work to create real change. This is why we protest; to organize, to heal, to be a heard, and to move forward.