Exercising Our Rights: This Is What Democracy Looks Like

“Use it or lose it!”

We use that line to talk about a number of things, but it is most appropriate when referring to our rights in a democracy. While it’s most frequently applied to voting, which is critically important, it also applies to demonstrations, marches, holding your elected representatives accountable and other forms of active, participatory democracy.

Although I grew up in the era of the Civil Rights protests and the Vietnam War protests, I was mostly too young to participate, plus I lived in a conservative area where protests of any kind were pretty much non-existent. However, at the still young age of 62 (survival tip: it’s safer to agree with me here than to argue), I was inspired by the Women’s Marches right after the inauguration. Since then, as regular readers of this blog know, I have joined the ranks of activists locally to take action in trying to defend the rights of all against the imminent threats from Trump and the far right since the election.

Today, I took another step by participating in my first protest march, an Equality March in Hartford, CT. It may not have been a huge affair compared to the Women’s Marches, but it was important for those of us who took part. Among the salient points that I took from today’s event:

First, we were a very diverse group of people supporting equality and rights over a broad spectrum of groups: Trans Rights, LGBTQ Rights, Civil Rights, Animal Rights, Workers’ Rights, Immigrant Rights and more. Within this diversity, there was a definite sense of camaraderie and fellowship because we recognize that we are all in this together. There can be no equality until we  achieve equality for all! So, we marched and chanted together for each other.

Second, we were all on the same page about making it a peaceful march. We can all be passionate without being violent about it. And there was no reason for even a cross word. Several people waved and gave us a Thumbs Up in support. We also had a police escort to help us get across intersections as a group, so we weren’t worried about anyone bothering us.

Third, the Hartford P.D. officers were very nice and respectful of us and we were respectful of them. Every situation is different, but mutual respect goes a long way in  minimizing “incidents.”  Can’t always guarantee it on either side, but it helps to try at every opportunity.

Fourth, while rarely will a single action / march / protest result in change by itself, the effects are cumulative so we need to keep it up. The only way to get the other side to understand that we are serious is to outlast them. This is not a sprint, but rather a marathon. And the race has just begun. However, we all have to pace ourselves. When we were talking amongst ourselves before the march started, we all realized there are so many events going on that it’s hard to keep track of them all. That’s good, because there’s always something going on that you can be a part of somewhere. We all need to do what we can, while still taking care of things like work, family and life.

For those of you in CT:

Saturday April 1, from 2:30 – 4 PM, the CT Rally to Support Trans Youth will take place on the steps of the CT Supreme Court building (231 Capitol Ave. Hartford) For more details, visit www.GLSEN.org .

Tuesday April 4th there will be a Teach-In: The Immorality of Inequality starting at 6 PM at the Shiloh Baptist Church (350 Albany Ave., Hartford). For more details visit www.FightFor15.org

There’s so much still to be done, so the keep the faith and stay active, my friends.

And remember to chant: We need a leader, not a creepy tweeter!

Victory will be ours!!!

Equality Through Peace and Unity

The Divine Miss Bri

 

 

 

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