What The Protesters Want

Trump’s statements have been triggering to millions of people all across the nation.

Ever since Donald Trump was announced as our president-elect, liberals across our nation have been taking to the streets to exercise their first amendment rights, and it’s annoying the hell out of the Republican Party. While many conservatives are begging the liberal protesters to “grow up,” many protesters are begging conservatives to “wake up.”

People of marginalized communities are protesting the hateful, racist, misogynistic rhetoric that Trump used to fuel his campaign. Trump’s statements have been triggering to millions of people all across the nation. Women are angered that a man with a history of repeated sexual assault allegations was chosen to be their president. The LGBT+ community is terrified that a man who supports conversion therapy is their vice president. Muslims are worried that they will have to register into a national database. Latinos are worried that they may be separated from their families. The Black Lives Matter movement fears that race-related attacks will only escalate.

While FOX News suggests that the protesters are looters who don’t have jobs and are wasting their time, I chatted with seven protestors who have (several) jobs, who promote peaceful activism, and prove that time spent marching on the streets is helping their communities. Here are some protesters who are committed to being the change they wish to see in our country.

“I decided to organize protests because I was scared when Donald Trump became our president elect, and I knew other kids in my city were, too. I wanted to have these peaceful protests to show unity, to let these kids know that they aren’t alone, and that someone is fighting for them ― even if that’s just a little brown poet like me. My mentors with RunDSM showed me the power of speaking. The hate comments were hard to deal with, but knowing that I made people in my community feel safe makes up for it.”

Jalesha Johnson, High School Senior and Poet in Des Moines, Iowa (@ja.lesha)

“I joined this protest as a ‘Hawk-Mom.’ This means I protect my babies and I will be watching. Our young people feel so vulnerable right now. Our LGBTQ citizens, still reeling from the Pulse tragedy, need to know we are not abandoning them. I was there for our black brothers and sisters, who thought that with Obama in office we were witnessing the end of racism in America only to find bigotry is alive and kicking in the supporters of our new president-elect. I was there for the Native Americans, the Latino-Americans, refugees and all non-Christians who have been made to feel that they are somehow valued less by our countrymen and are facing verbal and physical assaults across the country. But most of all I was there for my beautiful, intelligent, talented daughters who deserve to be treated with respect and who should never, ever feel their opportunities in life are limited because they are women and only they have a right to make decisions about their bodies.”

Tamara Solum, Director of Drama Kids of Manasota in Sarasota, Florida

“I went to the protest to show support and solidarity for equal rights and human decency. The theme of this particular rally was ‘Love Trumps Hate.’ I’m not protesting the electoral college like many people seem to believe. We’re making our voices heard. We will not go quietly and let a demagogue stomp on the decades of civil rights we have worked so hard for. We will stand up for what we believe is right and resist oppression in any form.”

Monte Patterson, Graphic Designer in Houston, Texas

“Initially, I was livid. I wanted to kick and scream in the streets. I wanted to make a sign that says ‘Fuck Trump’ and take a shit on the steps of the Trump tower. But that all came from fear. I was so scared that I felt I had to resort to this. But I’m sick of living in fear, of everyone living in fear. Fear is what caused so many people to vote for Trump. Fear is public enemy #1, not Muslims, not immigrants, not even trump. I wanted to help people not give into fear. So I made a sign ‘Be Angry, But Be Smart.’ I would never want to discredit anyone’s feelings, because feelings are valid, especially now. It was also a reminder for myself more than anything. Reminding myself of my anger but not letting it consume me.”

Zach Teague, Writer and Comedian in New York City (@zachteague)

“Generally, protesting is a very healing experience. It allows the opportunity to channel frustration and anger and despair into physicality ― yelling, marching, disrupting. There are also moments of consolation. The experience of being at anti-Trump rallies in the past week has truly given me a sense of support and protection that I haven’t felt before. Everyone around is fighting for everyone else: for black lives, trans lives, gay rights, women’s rights, immigrants, muslims, refugees, people with disabilities, and so on. It’s equal parts giving and getting when you walk those streets and hold those signs. It’s an act of resistance via inclusion. As a poet I’m often given a platform for my voice that isn’t granted to everyone, yet the collective nature of the past week has been toward giving all oppressed peoples a step to stand on. Even though the current situation is unbelievably grim, I still feel so grateful to be a part of the crowds who are fighting against it and to know how strong we are together.”

Stella Binion, High School Senior and Poet in Chicago, Illinois (@stellaabinz)

“I’m all for protesting and expressing yourself in any way you want to. Some people protest by sharing things on social media, or standing up for people, or wearing shirts with a message. Some do it in person with signs. It doesn’t mater, one isn’t better than the other. Just let people express themselves freely and without judgement. Even if we can’t get Trump out of office, we are sending messages to everyone across the country that we will not be silent. We will fight for equality and rape victims and marginalized people. If nobody protested and remained silent, it would send a message that no one cares. Protests can send a powerful message. Rape victims can see that they are not alone and that they have a voice. Minorities will see that people are with them.”

David Bruce, Writer and Film Critic in New York City (@davidlovesdogsandmovies)

“There is an awakening happening. A calling for us to assemble, organize and unite like we have never done before. The protestors are giving voice to our collective pain. We have elected a racist and a bigot whose words, promises, pledges and actions are those of an anarchist traitor to our country. This collective pain has awoken a sleeping beast in millions of Americans and Foreign allies across the globe. There is not one of us, nor any group, state, religion, commonwealth or political party that is responsible for Trump. Trump’s rise to power is a very dark shadow within all of us that we must take the opportunity to face. We have been asleep. We have all collectively normalized racism, sexism, xenophobia and bigotry. Trump is a president that reflects all of us ― a very dark side of us that we have turned a cheek to for too long.”

Michael Billy, LGBT Activist and Co-Founder of Jersey City International Television and Film Festival (@MrMichaelBilly)