Protesting or resisting. It’s a tough business.
You either discover yourself in a group venture or you get lost in it.
And at the end of the day, you make a decision about the price of admission. Because there certainly is one if you raise your hand to power and say, “Wait a minute.”
Authority never rolls over without a fight.
So I asked Maggie what she thought the march would be like and what she thought would happen.
On reflection, she admitted thinking it would be a great trip with friends, hanging out, taking pictures,
chanting about common beliefs. She never saw this as complaining about a President. She believed in supporting significant issues being swept aside.
She was ready. She was present.
What she got was a long, scary bus ride in the fog. Fitful sleep. Disorganization and mixed messages. Erratic cell service. Pushing and shoving. Padlocked Porta-Johns. Muddy fields. Aching feet from six hours of walking and nowhere to sit. Frazzled nerves and worry because four girls wandered off and never returned.
At one point, she stood with friends by a tent left over from the inauguration. It displayed a refreshment sign, and people kept lining up for food. “Whoever set up there could have made a lot of money,” she said to me.
Protests don’t come with cake pops. But those young passersby, raised on endless Starbucks, wouldn’t know demonstrations don’t include concessions. This rally was their first time on the streets, after all.
Still, she took the experience in, texting when possible about her location. We’d get aerial views on TV of where she stood. No, we never saw her face, but we witnessed her heartfelt presence. She sent pictures of her favorite posters. Like the good Southern girl she once was, the Y’ALL slogan pleased her no end. She appreciated the witty signs from clever people and valued seeing her own thoughts expressed in neon colors.
She heard inspiring messages from Gloria Steinem and America Ferrera, women from different generations, whose remarks mirrored her own beliefs. Although the massive crowd made it impossible to literally march past the White House, she saw it in the distance. On the metro, three older women from San Diego asked her group about their thoughts on the march, reinforcing that she was part of something beyond age or geography.
For the first time in her life, she uses sisterhood, understanding its long history and feeling appreciated for her newfound place there.
She belongs to the tradition built step by step.
In prime Maggie fashion, as if she were completing an essay exam, she wrote to me about the significance of fighting for social justice, a fight often plagued by lonely uncertainty. To illustrate her point, she quoted from Hamilton: An American Musical with this line: “What is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.”
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