Women’s March – Washington, DC, January 2017
This was my second march since the election in November 2016. The first was the Women’s Strike in December in Los Angeles – a group of a couple of hundred people marching along Hollywood Boulevard until we reached the CNN building. We had no demands other than to stand outside the most widely viewed source of mainstream television news and shout at them for the horror that they had helped along by presenting a racist reality TV star as a joke until it was too late.
The Women’s March in Washington, DC, in January 2017 defied my expectations. I feared going because a friend of mine had been arrested a day earlier at the Inauguration and because the nation’s capital would be filled with both like-minded, outraged and those who were overjoyed at the new administration. For many hours, my family and I couldn’t move. We were wedged in between young people and middle aged and older ones in sensible shoes, some with hard-boiled eggs and protein snacks visible in our standard-issue, clear plastic protest bags. Other fellow protesters wore whimsical costumes of Lady Liberty and Vladimir Putin and a tiny Donald Trump marionette. The signs were basic or elaborate, sometimes elaborate or high-concept. When we began to move at last, there were too many of us to waiting in the cold for too many hours to follow the designated march route. Instead, the hundreds of thousands of us branched out like a multi-limbed octopus of joyful, community dissent. We marched past the White House and around the monuments until dark, and after we left the march, we saw on the news that people continued to march in the streets until late into the night.
A smaller protest in my neighborhood of West Los Angeles took place on March 12, 2017, at Breitbart News headquarters on San Vicente Boulevard, where the journalists and the same band of counter-protesters almost outnumbered the protesters. Breitbart, along with InfoWars and Fox News, is one of the primary sources for the universe of racism, sexism, and anti-intellectualism that feed the inherent fear and paranoia of the administration’s supporters. It was a shock to learn that Breitbart has an office in the heart of a stereotypically “liberal, elite” enclave. Looking back, particularly remembering the people in luxury cars screaming curse words at my young sons and me as we stood outside with signs championing real journalism, it was the first of many instances in 2017 when I realized that the administration’s supporters had kept their hateful beliefs silent for years and felt empowered to unleash them in the open now that someone like them was in power.
Man with pink hat, sign: I’m Mexican and I’m not a rapist1 4
Man and woman with signs: “I can’t believe I still have to protest this fucking shit – millions of women 2017” and “I love my mom”2 4
Two women with signs: Nyet! Comrade Trump and Luther from Key and Peele’s “Anger Translator” sketch: I got my eye on you pussy grabber3 4
Counter protester, one of a dozen or so, with misspelled sign about “deplorables,” and “are” overwritten with “our.” I sometimes try to take the high road and not dwell on criticism of low-information voters for all of the obvious reasons, but it’s hard when it becomes this kind of an unintentional self-own. I am not proud of myself when I observe that almost all of these folks appear to have serious health problems. But then they say horrible things to my children and me and others holding peaceful signs in support of democracy and journalism, and I realize that we are playing by different rules.4 4
Impeachment March – July 2, 2017
This was a patriotic-themed march close to Independence Day. We were protesting the fact that a person who has no interest in American history or public service, other than to declare that he alone will make us “great” again, sits in the White House, enriching himself and embarrassing and endangering all of us.
Charlottesville, Virginia - Unite the Right Rally – August 11 (aftermath, just before a second torch-lit gathering on October 8).
I travelled through Charlottesville, Virginia, and a childhood friend who lives there showed me where the white supremacists marched from the University of Virginia campus through the city. He described the two days of increasing fear as the white supremacists began to flood the campus and the peaceful college town. He also showed me where the young woman protester, Heather Heyer, was killed by a white supremacist driving through the crowd of counter-protesters. My friend said that the street had a blood stain for weeks afterwards, and by the time I saw it, the dark mark was still visible.
Garbage bag covering Confederate statue of Robert E. Lee in a public park6 4
Young man in LA Dodgers hat, sign: If I left, you wouldn’t take my job7 4
Brick wall with chalk drawings and flowers on the sidewalk, writing: No more hate, Gone but not forgotten Heather8 4
meet the author
Susan Sheu grew up in the Midwest, the child of a Chinese immigrant graduate student and a Swedish-German Wisconsin woman. She was raised by people and in a place where everyone claimed to hate bigotry, ignorance, and totalitarian regimes. So [...]
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