2016 election presidential election

Chicago Protest: Andrea's Journey

Tuesday, November 22, 2016 Jen Lezan

We asked 5 protestors about their journey to the Michigan Ave. protests in Chicago. We wanted to showcase their journey, their experiences and why they were involved. Here's Andrea's story. 

1. Why did you decide to attend the protests in Chicago?

I feel like in this past election it was finally made very clear what the GOP has been dancing around for the past 20 years, that their "family values" have more to do with racism, misogyny and homophobia then anything else. Donald Trump's election has put up a mirror to the American people where we can really see ourselves and we need to confront the truth we're seeing. This election is representative of a line being drawn in the sand. People can no longer play dumb and get away with it. A vote for Trump means that racism, misogyny, xenophobia and homophobia are seen to be OK by that voting constituent. If you don't say something is wrong you say it is right. I went to the protest to make my personal statement that I DO NOT AGREE. I reject white supremacy in all its forms. I reject the President Elect. I went to be around other like minded people, feel their love and passion to help keep me feeling positive that there are people out there willing to fight against this dark storm rising on our horizon.

2. What was your experience like and what was the overall atmosphere?

It was great. The people were all very energized and had a lot to say. People were all friendly and supportive of each other. Almost every minority group was represented: Black Lives Matter, Feminists, Latinx, Muslims, Immigrants rights, Environmental activists. I mean, you name it, we were all there. It was very unifying and it felt like exactly what America is and what American can and should be.  

I think it was positive in that people were fighting for the rights of the vulnerable. I think it was positive in that people were countering the hateful rhetoric of Trump with talk of love and compassion. I brought my two children and I felt totally safe doing so. They were able to take part in the protest chanting and when they came up with one of their own and the parade starting yelling it for a minute or two, they felt full of pride. There was a lot of high fiving and smiling and having a good time.

3. What are your thoughts on the fact that many people consider these protests "whining" or
people being upset that they "lost"?

I think anyone criticizing protesters for whining sound ignorant to me. Our entire country was founded by people who stood up and protested what they considered unfair treatment of their colonial oppressors. Our country is based in an anti-authoritarian past which we celebrate when we protest. Those who criticize are in my opinion being duplicitous and hypocritical because if the situation were reversed, they would be out there protesting too. I'm all for listening to valuable critique but when the critique is childish and hypocritical, I just ignore it completely

4. Why is the youth generation so upset about the outcome of this election?

The youth generation is upset because this election does not represent the values of the younger generations. This election is being swayed by the Baby Boomers and their elders, because they have wielded massive power for the past 30 years and aren't taking well to the social change occurring. They are getting old and set in their ways. Baby Boomers are always criticizing millennials for having a sense of entitlement. I find people generally criticize others on things which they are themselves guilty. I think the older generation, which is solidly rooted in white male dominance feels incredibly entitled to maintaining their supremacy. I think women of that generation have a lot of internalized misogyny.
5. What do you think we can do to begin to come together as a nation?

I have no idea really. I would say compassion, but it is compassion which is so lacking in the elected officials which have all just been voted in. I'm going to take on more of a role of talking to members of my family and people from my home town who voted for Trump to communicate to them in a very personal way how we will be negatively affected by his presidency. I'm going to be very personal about how I talk about it and I'm just going to keep trying to be a role model personally by acting according to my integrity and do my best to treat every single person I know and meet as if they matter, to treat everyone as I want to be treated. I'm going to do more to call out the hypocrisy of the "Christian" values of those around me who are aligning themselves with Trump. I'm going to handle the situations like I talk to my Children. I'm not going to shame them for making a mistake and doing wrong, but I am going to hold them accountable for their actions and let them know their choices have repercussions. Even if that just means letting them know that they have lost my respect. I really have no idea how to heal the nation. I'm going to work on healing myself. Loving myself and standing in my own power, so I can have the energy and the stamina to maintain my position in the years to come. Its going to be a long fight ahead.

6. What message do you hope the protests will send our government?

I imagine Trump will get butt hurt since he seems to have such a thin skin. But I am under no illusion that protests are going to make any rapid change. I think the protests are playing the long game. Its to stay vocal and let them know there are people out there who aren't going to stay seated and let them just roll over us. But for me, I'm just going because I want to go, because I feel sad and as an individual, it is easy to feel powerless against all these big changes. To join a big group helps me to feel less alone and to feel like I can do something, however small. I'm not going because I expect anything out of it, but I got to add my body to the mass, so others out there will see us on TV and know they're not alone either. That the vulnerable people who are going to have even less safety now, know there are people out there who see them and care.

7. What are your thoughts on the idea that some feel that this election has been another way to push the divide and conquer ideal to keep Americans from really pinpointing where the real issues are in terms of our government (corruption at the highest levels?)  

Well, its definitely dividing right now. We'll have to wait and see. I think its only showing the corruption of government more then ever. I think things have to get worse before they can get better. I'm optimistic that despite hard times being upon us, the hard times will actually help us to come together and create change. It just has to come the hard way.

8. What are people doing to continue to organize and to combat the current corruption, issues and problems facing our government?
I think a lot of people are talking. We're all talking politics way more then we did in the past. You can't really escape it. I think people are going to be more motivated to work together. There is the possibility that this will help galvanize people to actually try to take a stand where before they were too comfortable to do so.

9. What are your hopes for the future & what can we do to heal?

I have great hopes for the future. I think we're in for some hard years. But any successful person will tell you, it is the obstacles put in our path, which push us to grow and become great. I feel such sadness that there will be many victims and casualties in the upcoming years, but I am going to do my best to put my feet on the ground and put my body out in the streets to represent solidarity with my fellow people. We have to end oppressive hierarchical social structures. When one works to hold others down, one wastes a lot of energy holding them down one could be using to do other things. My friend, who is a badass defense attorney awesome activist gave me the advice: Don't let the oppressor colonize your mind. We're planting seeds. 

 They're going to shit on us. But we're going to take that shit and use it as manure to make our gardens bloom. I believe that. I'm doing my part in the way I can. I'm raising my white male son to learn to listen to others, I'm teaching him to honor the feminine side inside of himself and I'm teaching both of my kids to love themselves and stand in their own power so they don't feel the need to hold others down. I'm going to enjoy the leaves blowing in the trees and I'm going to give my children as many kisses as I can. This election is reminding me not to take anything for granted. Life is precious and I am going to do my best every day to show gratitude to those who came before me, who lived through tougher times then this and pushed through with determination and grace. I want to live a righteous life, so I can look back and be proud that I stood up for what I believed and used my privilege in the fight for true equality for all.

Check out the photo gallery here.

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