So I have feelings. We all do.
This is an original piece written today Jan 20th. was a poem/performance art piece that I wrote the day of Inauguration.
My company was busy hosting a national level event called PTSDetroit or Plant the Seed, Detroit.
We were calling it a national social justice activist networking event and it was amazing. So many people attended. We were in touch with protests around the city of Detroit, speaking with them, collaborating with them on when they would arrive, when they would be available to attend. It was a beautiful nightmare of logistics.
But, we made it happen.
On the day of Inauguration 2017, I was busy cooking and preparing a meal for something close to two hundred people. I was the only person awake in my house having raced back to the house having only just finished dropping off books for my partner in the hospital.
It was a mad, mad day to begin with.
Then, I watched the Inauguration. I saw the Inaugural Address. One of my roommates walked in on me watching it. It was 16 minutes long. They walked back out and told me not to give him the viewership. Not to give him the attention.
We already had, but I was there for a different reason. I was performing that night at PTSDetroit.
I was performing my piece: This is an original piece written today Jan 20th. I literally did not know what shape it would take or how it would play. I was scared because my original idea was to use Trump’s Inaugural Address as the cornerstone for the whole piece.
You see, my suspicion is that most people do not watch these events anymore. We see Presidential Debates, which are televised through mediums like The Daily Show, SNL, Last Week Tonight, YouTube, etc. We get it broken down into bite size increments, five minutes, one minutes of click-baitable attention-getting drivel that is specifically crafted for whatever audience is going to click on it: all the hate and radical speech for the liberals, all the economic rhetoric and jingoism for the conservatives.
It just doesn’t make sense anymore. We have access to more information and more tools to spy ad monitor our OWN politicians than ever before. We can watch them in their most private moments. President Trump literally publishes his ideas online every day aloud and we can hold everyone accountable for it. The man said he would sanction hate crimes…be on the lookout.
One way that I know to do that…is to simply watch. Be on the lookout. See the addresses. Go to the meetings. Be present.
If you are confused about politics, about history, about your rights, actually try. Try things and see what gets friction, what gets feedback. You can read your documents. You can and should know your rights. You should explore and flex those muscles.
So that is some of the energy that I poured into this piece.
I wanted people to actually sit and watch something and know that it really happened, which meant that I needed to do it too.
And I tell you what, it was bad, but it was pretty boring. It was the same rhetoric: America first. Trade deals. Strong borders. The biggest change was that he said “We” and that was what everyone picked up on, basically the only thing that anyone complimented him on. Other than that President Drumpf actually managed to alienate his political backers by saying that the era of backwards deal politics was no more.
And then he went to work with these people.
So I watched the entire thing and realized that there was nothing interesting or dramatic about presenting his work. Yet, still I had a performance that night.
So I went to my training and picked up my tome of Shakespeare and started thumbing through some of my favorite dictators and found good old John Cade from Henry VI part 2 Act IV.
In the midst of a civil war amongst the nobles of England, a populist leader rose up and fought the both of them. Now, he is viewed as a buffoon and a liar and a cheat and is rightly condemned by the end of the play, he still manages to nearly overthrow England’s monarchy and establish himself as the lawful ruler.
It is a disturbing concept: the fact that a man can reach for power with noble intentions (to make all men equal under him) can sway popular opinion to him even though he is clearly unqualified.
So I drew from that piece. Completely unaltered. And I started writing the day of and realized that I had a theme to it: It’s true, I swear. Those two ideas. It’s true because I tell you. You believe me because I tell you to believe me.
I lied as blatantly as I could and begged my audience not to question me.
I think I just got tired of the lying and so I put it in front of everyone. I wanted one true thing to be said that day. One true thing to be known that day. I even said in the piece that I am an unoriginal, that much if not all of this piece was stolen, though I did lie about my sources.
I wonder if anyone caught the lie, I wonder if anyone cared. I wonder if anyone actually watched the speech.
There are estimates now that more people attended the protest than people who watched the Inauguration and were there combined. That gives me so much hope. Because that was what PTSDetroit reaffirmed over and over again.
“We are the majority,” one of our audients said.
“We are the majority,” in a world filled with love and support. That did not vanish with the swearing in of Donald J. Trump. That did not vanish with his election or the electoral college. The majority of the U.S. and the world is still moving towards progressive ideals: equality for all, rights over oneself, self-determination, etc.
We have seen the statistics.
To quote the beautiful and radiant Amanda Fucking Palmer,
“We are the media.”
It is our job to police ourselves.
In a recent NPR interview with cofounder of the Black Panther Party Bobby Seale with photographer Stephen Shames they said:
I tell the youth today, ever since Rodney King, I says today, you don’t need guns. Let’s use the technology to observe the police. We went out there with law books, tape recorders and guns to defend ourselves, just in case, to observe the police.
We can use the technology available to us today to police ourselves. We can observe, protect, and stand together.
That was the biggest thing that I saw after our small little protest. What was repeated over and over again was, “YOU ARE NOT ALONE.” Look around you at all of these people who came out together, look at each other and know that each and every one of you supports and loves one another. It is a powerful feeling and one not easily shaken.
Look at the Women’s March on Washington, which is described as one of the largest united protests in U.S. history.
It is surreal to think that we are the majority in this position, but the refrain does not change: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
So stand together, stand with one another, and come together to create something beautiful. It isn’t about fighting or running or doing anything we weren’t doing before.
We were afraid after the election of Donald J. Trump to the highest office and that the nation stood with him in the rhetoric of divisiveness. But, the outcry has consistently been one of togetherness and hope for betterment.
We can do this. Join the Women’s March’s online campaign
10 Actions in 100 Days
& be the human rights leader you always wanted to be.