This Saturday, January 18th, at 10:00 AM at Waterfront Park, I’ll be volunteering at the fourth annual Women’s March San Diego, a non-partisan, women-led movement unified around eight key principles: civil rights, disability rights, ending violence, environmental justice, immigrant rights, LGBTQIA rights, reproductive rights, and worker’s rights. And I’ll be there in the spirit of fighting for, rather than fighting against.
I’ve participated in many movements, marches, and protests, but have always struggled to see myself as a resister, or agitator. Agitating? Sure, to plenty of people. But while I value protest and admire those who lead the modern resistance movements deeply, resistance and protest – as they are usually practiced today – are garments that have just never fit quite right any time I’ve tried them on. They’re itchy, tight, and kind of give me hives.
As I teach in my classes on communication, I believe I’m more effective when I tell or show others what I want them to do (or do more of), than when I focus on what I want them to stop doing. So I try to practice my activism this way, too. I love canvassing in support of a candidate. I organized a 40 mile run a couple years ago as a physical demonstration of support for reproductive justice. Yes, we were resisting the Trump administration’s attacks on Planned Parenthood. But in my mind, I was running toward a future where everyone has access to safe, legal, and affordable sexual health care, rather than running against something – or someone. I totally dig the Americans of Conscience weekly checklist, which keeps me up to date on issues I care about and provides a helpful set of prompts for positive action, including specific people and organizations to be thanked for recent acts of political courage or humanity.
I acknowledge the safety, health, and stability that make it possible for me to choose whether and how to direct my energy and my anger. I don’t currently have to fight for my basic survival, or yell in order to be heard. I sincerely hope that my efforts amplify the many voices of those who do, and am open to criticism if they don’t.
So on Saturday morning: we’ll gather, sing, listen, and march. A unified voice, but each of us there for different reasons. I’ll be in the company of thousands who are there in protest, and I’m grateful for their voices. There will surely be counter-protestors, too, and I vigorously defend their right to be there. However you can do it best, I hope you’ll fight for the issues you care about, while remembering the humanity of those who disagree with you. And if you believe in freedom of speech, inclusion, public safety, access to healthcare, equitable pay, and that no human being is illegal – I hope you’ll meet me at the March!
Women’s March San Diego: womensmarchsd.org