Yesterday, I attended Fresno’s first anit-Trump rally — couldn’t stay the entire time because we had rehearsal for last night’s KKDJ-VU (reunion “celebration” for a station at which I worked for most of the 1980s, almost a dozen of my former colleagues were there). It was great to see so many show up, at the rally. When I got there, there was a small gathering on the SE corner. During the time I stayed, a second, slightly smaller group had formed on the NE corner, and a very small group was congregating on the SW corner. Fresno Police were everywhere. A camera drone circled above the intersection. Camera crews from local TV were there. I saw reporters from the Collegian and the Bee. Only a few counter protesters — basically, one redneck with a pair of signs. He was the only person I saw the cops tell to get back on the sidewalk — what happened to the instructions that setting foot in the street risked arrest?
That said, my heart, once again, broke. I stood there watching the rag-tag group that represents the America I know: women, Hispanics, the elderly, the young (many college-aged), African Americans, Asians, lawyers, a couple of other college professors, a doctor from UCSF Medical Center (a white man and his Latina wife), manual laborers, and everything in between. My heart broke because I kept seeing the faces of my students, this past Wednesday morning. Faces filled with fear and foreboding.My heart broke because of the anguish and trepidation on the faces of so many gathered in desperation.
But, just as disheartening was the lack of cohesion, on the part of the protestors. Chants of “Dump Trump” and “Trump is not my president” are magical thinking. Unless the electoral college does something completely drastic, he will be our next president, and he needs to be stopped. Impeaching him just gives us Pence — the truly scary one because he actually believes his right-wing ideology, unlike his running mate who just said what he needed to say to get elected.
My heart broke over the signs that read things like, “Blame the DNC” and those who were telling people in the crowd that had Bernie not had the nomination stolen from him, we’d be looking at a different future — I’m not so sure, pegging him as a dirty commie would have given the fascist all the ammo he needed to rally the low information voters (Trump said, he loves the poorly educated). That said, I’m no longer concerned as to who’s to blame — we all let this happen. I’m not gonna blame the Bernie Bros, Comey, or even Putin. This, I’m afraid, is the natural backlash of having a black president and white (slightly left of center) liberals believing they had a permanent majority.
Most of the cars that drove by barely acknowledged the protestors. Those who did either honked and gestured in solidarity or honked and gestured quite rudely. One very overweight white woman in the passenger seat of a a lift-kitted, oversized 3/4 ton (or larger) pick’m’up truck screamed her “Fuck You!” punctuated by flipping off the protestors. Those who demonstrated support and those who demonstrated opposition were approximately equal in number — which is to be expected, in this area.
My heart continued to break when I left the protest. I drove down Blackstone and looked at all the people, most of them POC, trying to get on with their lives. Part of me couldn’t fathom why they were not several blocks north, making their voices heard. Another part, fully understood that they were just trying to keep their heads down and get through the day. Tomorrow, will be another day to try to just get through.
I left, after an hour — I had to get ready for this evening. I could NOT not go to the protest. I owed it to myself, my family, my students, my friends, and my communities (all of the ones to which I belong). That said, I’m going to find away to amplify the voices of the voiceless. I will find a way use my talents, knowledge, and experience to somehow make a difference. I have the genesis of a plan (as Baldrick would say, a cunning plan) to move forward. Step one is to finish writing the dissertation (number 1 priority). Step two entails a new venture (adventure) that I’m going to try hard to make happen that combines all I’ve ever done and might have a small impact (I’m realistic as to my limitations). I don’t want to say more until I’ve made progress, but “watch this space.”