I am on a kind of vacation. Whether it counts as vacation if I am driving my home I’m not sure, but it feels like vacation. It also, as of late, has felt like brokenness. I feel that brokenness within myself, and also within my friends and family, and also within this country. So yesterday I went to one of the many, many protests around the country of Trump’s inauguration. I am in Miami, so I went to Miami’s protest, as did hundreds of other Americans. Old and young, various colors and genders, there for various reasons. I was there mostly because I wasn’t sure why I was there, and because I knew that I had to be somewhere doing something yesterday if I was to look myself straight in the eye in days to come, and because I was kind of uncomfortable being there. I want to get along with everyone. This is my default setting. I want to be liked, I don’t want to cause or be around conflict. I think this is a useful trait sometimes, but not always, and not now.
So I went, to Bayfront Park in downtown Miami, with my signs, sketched out and Sharpied in at my campsite in the Everglades the day before. The sign said “Dissent Is Patriotic” on one side and “Love Trumps Trump” on the other side, and I had an orange Sharpie so I made “Trump” orange. I took the bus from Miami Beach with the sign folded in my pocket. As I walked up to the park the sun had just set and the organizers had just gathered everyone into a group to hear people speak. We heard from many – grizzly sinewy white men straight from the Sixties, clean-cut union organizers, a Muslim and a Jew, women who appeared small but who were actually not small at all. They each spoke to the causes that were dear to them, and that are now under threat because of our new president (this lack of capitalization is a small protest). There were so many things to fight for or against that it breaks my heart: the environment and climate change, black lives, trans lives, worker organizations, gay rights, military aggression, anti-Islamism, immigrant rights, the sovereignty of women over their own bodies, wage equality, health care, free speech, this list is long and incomplete and too fucking long, and it brought us all together in solidarity with each other.
Then we marched through the streets of downtown, guided by police officers who mostly seemed to be doing their jobs begrugdingly and without joy (the one cop I saw smiling, out of dozens, was one of two female cops, out of dozens). Organizers with megaphones led chants such as “No Trump, No KKK, No Racist USA!” “Whose Streets? Our Streets!” and “The people, united, will never be divided!” We carried our signs and our joy, anger, frustration, sadness, anxiety, and hope through the city, and we displayed it all proudly.
And so many people responded positively to us. The drivers stopped by police on the street in order to let us through honked in support, waved, smiled from their Hondas and Fords and Mercedeses and Range Rovers. The tourists and visitors out on the town on a Friday night raised their hands in rhythm with our chanting, on the sidewalk, from overpasses, through the windows of restaurants and condos (“Out of the condos and into the streets!” came through a megaphone at one point, though no one took us up on it that I could see). The workers at their jobs – security guards, parking attendants, servers, venders, who came out of their places of employment to cheer us on and yell out “Fuck Donald Trump!” And everywhere, everyone taking photos. We were seen and heard and appreciated. There were hundreds of us, and hundreds more showing support in these ways, and three, only three, who expressed opposition.
The march continued onto I-95, and I broke off, not wanting to risk arrest while on vacation in a city where I knew no one. It seemed that everyone was safe, though, and I rejoined the group as they exited, in the spotlights of police helicopters, and moved back toward downtown. There we congregated on the steps of the corporate-sponsored arena where the Heat play basketball, and heard from a few more organizers.
The last to speak had been leading and directing the march from the front and from behind a Joker mask. As he began to speak, he removed the Joker mask to reveal a ski mask underneath, and talked of the possibility of malevolent surveillance. But he continued, and grew more emotional talking about why he was there and how fed up he was with the racism he sees in the United States still, and he ripped off that second mask as he shouted “I am a black man!” His pride and frustration and strength and love and anger all came out in his wide-open eyes, all at once, as he shouted how fucking fed up he was with all of it. He ended by saying he was an activist, and an organizer, and a teacher, and a farmer, and he teaches kids to grow food, and he urged us all to not let ourselves go back to living lives of disengagement if this was what we were doing, because so many are fighting and oppressed and no one will save us but ourselves. The Republicans sure won’t save us, he said, and the Democrats will not save us either, he also said. It’s up to us, he said.
And then we formed a circle, holding hands, still hundreds of us, and promised to continue. We said, together, to each other and ourselves, “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win.” One of those women who was not small sang “We are all family” over and over with a sweet and powerful voice, and it was beautiful, and then we broke apart and went our own ways.
Back at my hostel last night, I had a good strong cocktail on the patio, and looked online at the news and at my friends’ postings, and I saw photos of wide spaces on the National Mall and the inaugural parade route vacant of Trump supporters, and so many expressions of resistance to what is ugly and wrong, and of celebration of what is beautiful and true, and I felt hope for the future in a way I have not felt since before November 9.
As I write this, there are women filling the Capitol, many times more women today than Trump supporters yesterday, and many thousands more in hundreds of gatherings around the country and the world, and I swear I can feel, as thick as the humid South Florida wind, the positive energy of strength and grace and care that these women and their supporters are sharing with each other, and with the world, and with me. I feel grateful for the countless millions standing up for love and each other and the earth, and as I think about us all I also feel a joy welling up through the brokenness, and not fixing the cracks or hiding them, but filling them and surrounding them, so it feels like water over rocks, which is what I want to feel and to be and to have all of us be: clear and clean and fluid and still and of one formless connected form, filling every brokenness we can find.