“What does that mean?”
The twenty-something woman at the cash register in the Copley Square restaurant looked at my Black Star Resistance button with a puzzled expression.
I still don’t have my elevator pitch ready, so I stumbled and mumbled uncharacteristically for a moment.
“It’s a symbol of… resistance.” I said.
“Resistance?” she asked, still confused. Damn, I thought. So young that word does not have an automatic meaning for her. No political meaning, no meaning at all.
“It’s a political statement of opposition to the people about to take power in DC. That kind of resistance,” I said, swiping my debit card.
“OH!” she exclaimed, her eyes brightening. “Oh YEAH! I can get behind that!” she continued excitedly, then her tone got quiet and conspiratorial as she leaned in to hand me my lunch receipt. “I can’t STAND him. I still can’t believe he is going to be president.”
”Well, lots of people feel the same way. We are coming up with simple protest symbols like these so we can identify each other and realize we are not alone,” I responded as I threw the receipt into the paper carry-out bag and picked it up by the handle. “Remember, many more people voted for her than for him. Millions more.”
“Yeah, you right” she said smiling and turning to the next customer. “More of us than them.”
Standing on a corner near the State House at a long red light, I noticed the well-dressed young businesswoman next to me was wearing one of the really nice H arrow pins on her coat, the kind that I assume you can only get if you are a staffer or otherwise connected with the campaign.
“That’s right” I said, “You keep wearing your pin. Wear it for all four years if you want to.”
“Damn straight” she responded. “I do not recognize that man as my president and I don’t have to and I want everyone to know it.” She went on to say that she had been wearing her pin every day and that people frequently noticed and commented on it in the same way that I had. “I wish I didn’t have to work on Saturday so I could go to the demonstration,” she continued, “But I have way too much to do.”
“I originally planned to get down to Washington but I am connecting with some friends here instead,” I answered.
“Is there a demonstration here, too? That’s good, maybe I can go to that for at least a little while. Is it on the Common?”
“Sort of. It’s going to be over on the Public Garden side, like where the Pope was when he came in ‘79.”
“I might have to check that out.”
“You can look it up on the net” I suggested as the walk symbol lit up and we both crossed the street, she at her faster pace and me lumbering along on my sore foot towards the Park Street T stop.
As I left a post office yesterday in downtown Boston I noticed an unusually large number of motorcycle cops at the state government building across the street. I looked around to see if something unusual was going on but I didn’t see any demonstrators. A silver-haired woman passing me going into the post office saw my quizzical look.
“I think they are here to protect us from Trump,” she said in a stage whisper as she walked past.
“I’m sorry, what?” I said back since I didn’t hear her clearly.
She stopped and turned toward me. “I asked them why so many of them were standing around and they said they were protecting the state government building but I wish they were here to protect us FROM Donald Trump!” She ended her sentence with passion in her voice and fire in her eyes—a raging Granny, real grey panther.
“But why does the building need protecting today?” I wondered aloud. “The big demonstration is tomorrow.”
“I know. Everyone is just walking around shell-shocked today like they are in mourning,” she answered.
“Will you be marching tomorrow?” I asked.
“I’m not sure,” she said. “I don’t walk too fast. I wish I could march.”
“I don't walk too well either but I plan to just meet some friends at the corner of Charles and Beacon so I can add my presence to the count of people. I want to be in that number… you know.”
“Yes, just so you can say you were there. Maybe I will do that too.”
“OK, see you tomorrow!” I said brightly as we separated, and she laughed and continued on her way.
The only silver lining I can see in the midst of the clouds hanging over our country and the world right now is that people are reaching out to one another. Spontaneous conversations about resistance and the need for it and the desire to be public about it keep cropping up almost every day now. Maybe I look like an approachable person and this is happening to me more than others, or maybe we are all longing for connection, starting conversations with strangers, sizing people up in casual public encounters, trying to determine “are you one of us or one of them?”
New affinity groups are popping up everywhere. Some are organized around the Indivisible resistance handbook. The internet is having a resurgence of its role as a meet-up tool rather than a means of segmenting us further. The hunger to connect with like minded people is reversing the Bowling Alone isolation trend of modern life that surrounded so many people with a nameless debilitating loneliness. This “unpresidented” threat is enough of a common danger that it is forcing us out of our individual pod-lives and grasping at the life ring of community building.
When I first joined this blog we were united in our opposition to Bush and it created a certain kind of solidarity energy that dissipated during the contentious primary seasons. Perhaps now a return to that “we’re all in this together” power will bind us together even more tightly than before. A renewed sense of purpose and fighting spirit is in the air and it is energizing.
I honestly do not think the Republicans are aware of it, ready for it, or able to stop it.
I have to run out the door in the next ten minutes or I will be late for my meeting at the Arlington Street Church. Those folks have been on the right side of inclusive justice since before the Revolutionary War—everything from Colonial abolitionist movements to being the site of the first legal AND sacramental same-sex wedding in the U.S. after marriage equality came to Massachusetts in 2004.
When this publishes I will be at the Boston demonstration with only my phone for internet access, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they disrupt cellular service downtown today, so I may not be able to respond until I get back home.
If you are marching in Boston today, look for me with my orange balloons and my black star pins. I have six extra ones to give away and if you give me your address I can mail you one after the demonstration.
Silent no more, hidden no more.
And whenever you need a comforting thought, always remember, we outnumber them.
Previous TRUE BLUE REPORT diaries
Inaugural (!) diary: Stop expecting Republicons to make sense