I was gutted to miss the Women’s March on London on the 21st January 2017. I wanted to be there, joining women and men alike as they declare that they would stand against Trump and his policies. I made my poster and declared my solidarity alongside them – but I still felt like I had failed in not being able to go. I am proud of what people achieved. Ok, so Trump hasn’t suddenly become a nice guy who is willing to appreciate differences – but for the first time since the seventies, people turned out en masse.
It made me hope. Hope that, if my generations political indifference influenced the populist rise to power, perhaps it will also be the kick up the generational backside. Perhaps now, people will stand united for our brothers and sisters around the world.
Last Monday, I attended an emergency demonstration against Donald Trump’s travel ban, and May’s seeming acquiescence too it. It was amazing – how when DT announced the ban, within hours there were Americans protesting in the airports, pro bono lawyers working on getting legal visas through regardless of country of origin. Here in the UK, emergency demonstrations were organised and I was astounded by the thousand or so people that turned up on a freezing cold winter night to say – this isn’t ok! I knew no-one at the rally, but I felt safe and I felt that if we all shouted loudly enough maybe, just maybe, people will listen!
The speech that resonated the most with me – I couldn’t tell you who said it, what preceded it and what followed. Nor can I write verbatim what was said, but what I felt was the most important was:
If you want a wall, you’ve got one. We are the wall, standing against you.
Birmingham is a proudly multicultural society, city, area. So tonight, we stood proud, we stood together, and we said No.
So, perhaps the rise of populism in the UK and America has also conjured a second coming. Perhaps now we will be able to engage all those people who said “politics isn’t about me”. The return of activism – of mass protests, of writing, art and standing up for what we believe in. If the electoral system is failing us, and our voices are being ignored, then we need more voices, we need to be louder and we need to be heard. So let’s go. Let’s go and change the world. I believe it can be done, if we work together, if we try, and if we keep trying.
We are supposed to be a liberal, democratic society. The elections have failed – they have spawned governments with no care for keeping their election promises or even to basic morality. So we have to try another route. You don’t have to protest (I know my anxiety has a few issues with it myself), but perhaps you can change one persons mind, perhaps you can enthuse someone. Perhaps you are gifted with a variety of art mediums, or have a magical way with words than can inflame the internet.
We aren’t all going to be remembered in the annals of history, we don’t need to be. Not individually. To quote Jyn from Rouge One: “Rebellions are built on hope”. If you hope for a chance to change, to make a difference, then what is stopping you?
The time is now. The place is here, and I call upon you to stand with us, to find your corner of the world, stake it out and say no, your views aren’t welcome here.