Behold the brave battalion that stands side by side
Too few in number and too proud to hide
Then say to the others who did not follow through
You’re still our brothers, and we will fight for you
I’ll never understand people who disparage peaceful protestors. I’ve read terrible commentary these past few days implying that we don’t have jobs or other obligations, crave attention, or somehow enjoy the spotlight. The critics want activists to “trust the system” – a system that has failed us time after time after time. Injustice is not an accident. It is systemic, pervasive, and institutionalized. Fighting it requires similar organization, intentionality, and yes, sometimes, a little civil unrest.
I attended another rally for Botham Jean last night outside of the Dallas Police Department. Trust me when I tell you, I would much rather have spent the time in bed cuddling my puppies while watching a movie with my husband. It’s not enjoyable to wonder about things like whether I ordered enough groceries for him to eat in case I wind up in jail (or worse) by the end of the night. Does my anxiety sound irrational? Seeing police snipers on the rooftop of our apartment building with their aim in my direction has that effect.
After yesterday and the preceding week, I kept a promise to myself and took a break today. Rallies like these are the perfect storm for introverted empaths – tons of people and too many feels. Burnout is nearly inevitable, and debilitating when it hits.
To recharge, I avoided social media as much as possible for the day, and closed out the night watching one of my favorite Broadway musicals, Newsies. Hans Christian Anderson once said, “Where words fail, music speaks.” The songs of Newsies speak my truth.
I can always count on Seize the Day and The World Will Know to re-ignite my spark of purpose when it starts to dim. Tonight, though, an unexpected song stirred something my heart.
Tears pooled in the rim of my glasses towards the end of the show during the song, Brooklyn’s Here.
Just got word that our buddies is hurtin’
Facing total disaster for certain
That’s our cue, boys, it’s time to go slummin’
Hey Manhattan, the calvary’s comin’!
Have no fear
I thought about last night, caught in a downpour, when a kind “stranger” offered to share their umbrella. Turns out, the good samaritan was actually my coworker. She hadn’t even recognized me when making the gesture, but saw my camera equipment and noticed I didn’t have any protection from the storm. A wave of relief washed over me, not for my camera (thank you, Fuji weatherproofing), but from the knowledge I was no longer alone.
We huddled under her umbrella and ran for cover. The comfort of having her, a straight white woman, standing next to my Asian American self in a crowd of people demanding justice for a black man felt like a powerful, invisible chain. As if we were losing a tug-of-war game until a bodybuilder grabbed the end of our rope and pulled with all their might.
And that was the same feeling that moved me so deeply watching Newsies. HOPE. Hope that we’re not alone, change is possible, and the time is now. Just as Brooklyn and all the Outer Boroughs of New York joined the Manhattan newsies in their strike and changed the course of history, I eagerly await the day when others take to the streets (or even social media) on behalf of Botham and all our brothers and sisters who lost their lives without justice.
Please. Join us.
This introverted activist will be forever in your debt.
“Wrongs will be righted, if we’re united. Let us seize the day.”