Had the pleasure of seeing and rousing rabble with a lovely group of ladies who I spent a significant portion of my summer with today. The day was lovely, the reunion was raucus and celebratory. And I just so enjoyed seeing a crowd of people united for a cause again.
However, I feel I need to address something that made me feel uneasy, and will likely continue to make me uneasy about political organizing/gathering around causes that regard personal and collective autonomy which needs to be defended within the legislative process. Too often, these causes are co-opted by political parties and candidates that attempt to direct the participants to “stand for” “vote for” and “support” them. And it’s frustrating. First, because no one political party has a monopoly on any particular issue – so, turning a rally for an issue that a good number of individual people feel passionate about into a means of promoting your party or candidate by holding banners for said candidate or party makes it seem as though we are marching for that party or candidate, rather for the rights that we as individuals are entitled to. Second, because political parties and candidates are supposed to stand for and support US.
I’m pretty sure my beautiful, strong sisters who chained themselves to the railings of the chamber – and others who put their bodies on the line in one way or another – during the HB2 special sessions last summer were not doing it to stand with a political candidate, or to encourage people to vote for a particular political party at all. I’m pretty sure many of them, if not most, did it to express outrage at a system that oppresses, endangers, and stigmatizes people without apology and without regard for the fact that we are standing right there in the same room WATCHING them do it. In my opinion, acts of civil disobedience are the furthest thing from politics that can be imagined. They are acts of passion and sincere love and emotion – and as might be expected with anti-political actions, they are frequently discouraged and downplayed by political candidates and parties. I remember being scoffed at and told that it would be silly of me to expect a political candidate to outwardly express sympathy for our injured brother Josh, who was taken to the hospital after being brutalized by DPS officers moments before said political candidate emerged from the building, surrounded by her own DPS bodyguards. How dare I assume that a political candidate whose banner I would be forced to march under at every gathering until election day would risk the political suicide that would no doubt arise from her showing concern for someone who was fighting for the same cause that we are all supposed to stand with her and fight for?
And while it’s all very well and good and understood that politicians have a role to play in this spectacle, the reality in my eyes is we as individuals must collectively rise up and make it clear that we are continuing to watch them and we will not sit down and shut up and allow anyone to legislate away our rights. We must make it very clear that it is absolutely unacceptable AND WE WILL NOT SILENTLY AND POLITELY ALLOW ANYONE TO FURTHER OPPRESS OUR SISTERS WHO ARE ALREADY MARGINALIZED. I hope everyone remembers this as they shame us with admonitions to vote out of one side of their mouths, while they condemn, discourage, and even shame those who take direct action out of the other. We need to remember this movement…really ALL movements, are about people. And even though I believe the personal is political, I think it’s wise to ensure the people, rather than political candidates, hold the power.