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Activists: Evolve to Stay Relevant to America

Updated on November 20, 2017
General anti-Trump signs were common at the Women's Marches.
General anti-Trump signs were common at the Women's Marches. | Source

Trophies for More Than Participation

We're not here for a show: I get the impression that protest organizers think that we're an audience that needs to be entertained before the show. We really, really don't; activism should be a contact sport.

Speeches are great, but only if you put your best public speakers up on that stage. Most people are there to hoot and holler. I have never seen so many people out protesting in my city. This isn't a concert, where we sit and passively watch the action; we want to be a part of the show. We want to chant. We want to march. We want to raise a little hell.

We don't want to be spectators; let us participate. We want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, not more self-appointed leaders. We want to march farther than you did, and protest longer.

Professional organizers often fall short of expectations. People want to march another couple of blocks, want to chant a half hour longer ... don't shut us down. You have to find people who can keep these protests peaceful, but make them more powerful, more courageous, and more meaningful than they have been in a long, long time. And "peaceful" does not have to mean "follow the rules!!"

Not all causes are simple.
Not all causes are simple. | Source

Some Issues are Problematic

We aren't going to agree on everything, and that's okay: Abortion is a complicated issue. Some people may see it in black and white, but far more people see huge swaths of gray. For example, most people believed the exposé videos were legitimate; they demanded answers they never received, but still didn't want to defund Planned Parenthood.

Immigration is another tough issue. I personally do not support illegal immigration, because it has created a slave class that has no voice or power. I don't agree with Muslims' poor treatment of women, and also wonder how our country, that is on the brink of financial ruin, will pay to support refugees when we are already struggling to assist native born, poor Americans.

But I will gladly protest Trump alongside a die-hard pro-choicer. I will gladly protest Trump alongside a Muslim.

Yup.  That's a uterus on a stick.
Yup. That's a uterus on a stick. | Source

Cecile Richards Needs to Shut It

Abortion rights is not the only women's issue: I attended both of our local Women's Marches, and was pretty ... resentful afterwards, when Planned Parenthood and pro-choice folks staked their claim on our dissidence. Yeah, there were a lot of pro-choice signs; there were a lot of "pussy hats" and gangly uterus sculptures, but there were equal numbers of people spouting general anti-Trump rhetoric.

And ... since when is abortion the only woman's issue? LGBTQ activists were out in force, but no one spoke on their behalf. No one was there representing the local women's shelters.

It also bugged me that Planned Parenthood banned pro-life groups from attending the Women's March in D.C. Big mistake. When you have the chance to bring two opposing groups together towards a common goal, you should take that opportunity. But Planned Parenthood is so arrogant and tunnel-visioned ... they can't lead general protests against Trump.

They've been doing this too long, they're not ready to evolve, they have to go.

It's the same attitude they had when the videos - which were clearly authentic - were released. Instead of explaining the "why," they denied everything ... oh wait, they didn't really deny anything, they just made it seem like the journalists were stupid. The same attitude that assured so many Hillary voters that her victory was in the bag. No political dinosaur like Planned Parenthood should lead any more marches.

Donna Hylton was a bad choice for the Women's March.
Donna Hylton was a bad choice for the Women's March. | Source

Uh ... Who Let the Convicted Rapist Speak?

Your leadership has to be (mostly) squeaky clean: We're gonna start this discussion with the rapist/murderer that ... someone chose to speak at the National Women's March, Donna Hylton.

This woman goes way beyond "problematic." A sought-after women's rights activist and prison reformer, Hylton is often described as "beautiful" and "intelligent." I mean, yeah ... it's not uncommon for political movements to choose spokespeople based solely on their first-hand experience, good looks and eloquence, but choosing Donna Hylton to speak at the National Woman's March was ... wrong? Misguided? Immoral?

You probably don't know about this chick; I know I didn't, and I pride myself on being "woke." There were a handful of articles that came out after the March that detailed her past, but they were not widely circulated.

So get this: In 1985, Hylton and two of her girlfriends were hired to kidnap a realtor whose partner thought he stole $135K from him. But Hylton and her gang didn't just kidnap him, they tortured and raped him over the course of 15-20 days. This torture ended in his murder. Knowing he was already dead, one of Hylton's friends raised the ransom amount to $400,000.

If we're going for full disclosure, the guy was a dirtbag. But few deserve the Hylton treatment. When I say "rape," I don't mean him penetrating them. The "torture" involved burning, pliers and his testicles. It was a horrific crime and Donna Hylton should thank her lucky stars she wasn't executed. But reading her Twitter page, you wouldn't know that. For her, it's all about forgiveness and second chances. That kind of saccharine is easier to sprinkle when you're the one asking for the forgiveness and second chances.

But this is a new era of protests and activism, Donna, and people like us aren't gonna put up with people like you speaking at our protests. If somebody wants to pay for some fancy dinner in some fancy hotel to listen to her speak, go for it! But allowing - dare I say it? - demonic people like Donna Hylton to speak at rallies disgraces any cause.

Christians: Not the first group that comes to mind when you think of anti-pipeline protests.
Christians: Not the first group that comes to mind when you think of anti-pipeline protests. | Source

The One Exception: #NoDAPL

The example to follow: The protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) have been going strong for months. It started with a few Native Americans (Sioux/Lakota) protesting at the DAPL construction site; it culminated with a full occupation of the site by hundreds of Native American and other protestors, including veterans' groups. Last week, the camps were raided by militarized police forces and cleared out.

The Sioux seemed to score a victory last December, when the Army Corps of Engineers agreed to reroute the pipeline. Protestors were smart and didn't leave the site.

On January 18, 2017, protestors thought they scored another victory; the Department of the Army published a Notice of Intent to require an Environmental Impact Statement in the Federal Register for the company to continue construction of the DAPL. But then Trump, in his infinite ignorance, signed not only an Executive Order allowing construction of the DAPL, but also allowing construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which was previously stopped by President Obama.

I attended a protest on January 29, 2017, that was against both the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines. It was a well organized protest that stayed on point. There were people who had been at Standing Rock; one led a song.

Clearly, these folks had the advantage of experience. They didn't stay rigid in their protesting style, they have evolved to fit the conditions, opposition, supporters ... they have even had to evolve their protesting style because of harsh weather.

The #NoDAPL leadership has a distinct advantage over other organizers: They are bound by ethnic and cultural ties, moving towards a clearly defined goal. Organizers in this new protest era should look to the Standing Rock Sioux for guidance.

Poster for the February 17, 2017, General Strike
Poster for the February 17, 2017, General Strike

General Strike: February 17, 2017

Update: Unfortunately, this general strike led exactly nowhere. I don't know anyone who walked out of work that day. How could they? Too few people participated; exposure would have been far too high.

You can feel the tension and frustration in the air. Frustration at protestors for not giving Trump a chance. Frustration that the protests aren't doing enough to oust Trump from office, or that individual protests aren't clearly expressing anti-Trump issues. Frustration that some protests have gone too far.

Even the scientists have had enough. Mad that Trump shut down the Twitter accounts of several science-based governmental agencies - like the EPA and National Parks - and demanding that all scientific papers get government approval first (rather than peer-based evaluation) has prompted scientists to organize their own march against Trump.

The date for those protests - the March for Science - is set for April 22, 2017, in many cities all over the United States.

For those of you itching for a flat-out anti-Trump protest, there is February 17, 2017, General Strike. The General Strike is simple: Do anything and everything you can to disrupt normal business. A few suggestions from the organizers:

  • skip work
  • skip school
  • don't purchase anything, either in stores or online
  • protest! protest! protest!

Thankfully, the organizers understand that not everyone has the luxury of missing work or school, so are pushing the "no shopping," aspect of the strike. And yes, that means not buying anything online, either.

Several individuals have called for more extreme protests on February 17, such as shutting down roads or blocking access to businesses. I think that if the past couple weeks are any indication, you might want to get your shopping done before 17 February 2017.


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