Resist. Speak up. No justice, no peace. Come together. Show up. Act now.
We witness our representatives continue to violate our fundamental right to live a decent life and exist as we are in the places we call home. We remember that historically, we have never been TRULY equal and things are only getting worse. We know that everything must change and we cannot wait any longer for it to happen. We take to the streets to demonstrate that we will not stand for intolerance or unjust treatment. We do it the best ways that we can at this point in history. We chant these mantras and more.
This weekend marked the beginning of a mass revolt in the name of justice. Of all of the marches that were scheduled, I chose the one that supported our local efforts to end gentrification and embrace intersectional feminism. It was being lead by a diverse group of organizers that welcomed us all.
I prepared myself for an afternoon of fighting back. I crafted my sign, arranged to meet up with a friend and scheduled safety check-ins with loved ones. I was ready to add my energy toward a cause of resistance, but felt unsure and fearful of what was to come. We gathered. We waited. Our numbers grew and grew. And then our leaders began to reveal their way (and quite possibly the best way) of shifting our world toward universal acceptance and equality:
They initiated a ritual as a rebellion.
We watched the organizers call down their ancestors to join us. They built an altar to black femmes and remembered the lives that brought so much joy to the world. We watched as Yemaya was invoked: the great Mother of the sea in their tradition joined us in our work. Offerings of rum, tobacco and honey were made as we all chanted in Her honor. We listened to the personal stories of trans-people, immigrants, disabled people and queer people. We roared as we heard the echo of Truth flow like water from the mouth of an incredible spoken-word poet. They invited us to dance to their drums as we celebrated lifting each other up, instead of tearing others down.
And when an elderly black woman from the neighborhood walked straight up to the speaker and demanded to know what we were doing, she was not silenced. She was acknowledged. We told her that we were all there to work toward making the world equal and better. She said that she had fought to save the apartments that still stood on the partially demolished ground under our feet. We told her that this rally was a part of continuing that work. We cheered and thanked her for coming forward as she smiled and told us that her arthritis was calling her back home.
Sure, we marched and make no mistake: it was a powerful statement. Local business owners came out of their shops to cheer us on while police politely directed traffic as we flooded the streets. Onlookers took photos. Drivers honked in solidarity. We walked side-by-side to show that we will not back down from creating necessary change. We protested, but we also celebrated culture, uniqueness and spirituality. I am incredibly grateful to have been a part of such an enormous, incredible movement.
As I move forward with my community of passionate activists, I am recognizing that if we are going to demand that things be radically different, we must also choose to resist in a radically different way. The anger, sadness and full-spectrum of emotion we feel must be channeled in a way that unites us with our own personal depths. We need to allow ourselves to connect with the strife of our ancestors and ask for their advice as we shape the future. We must listen to the Gods and culture of all traditions to discover how we can live in peace, together. We need listen to each other’s stories and respect all of the diverse ways of living life.
It is only when we do these things, while also accepting that our neighbor’s methods may vary greatly from our own, that we can truly have Peace and Justice for All.