One image hasn’t left my mind. It’s been over a year and yet it is lodged in my brain.
March 1, 2016. Louisville, Kentucky. Shiya Nwanguma.
In my mind’s eye, I can see this young lady, her face calm, proud, amid hysteria. How did she maintain her composure? Her arms at her sides, her body stiff, trying to stand in place, trying to maintain her position.
Around her, white faces grotesquely stretched with hate. Yelling, shoving, pushing her through a gauntlet of venom. This young black woman who attended your rally to take a stand against you. Donald, she is my north star of resistance. Whenever I get weary. Whenever I feel hopeless. I bring to mind…Shiya…Shiya.
Donald, you endorsed this hate. You egged it on. You shined a light on a racist undercurrent that already existed and you fanned the flame from embers hidden in dark places to wildfires out in the open.
And Donald, it took me a while because I was dazed from being gaslit day after day by you and your lackies. But when I was finally able to come up for air, when I could finally see clearly, I realized you had given me a gift. And I haven’t taken the time to thank you.
Because, Donald, I am far from perfect. I have white fragility in spades. My intellect sometimes lets me down. My commitment wavers on a rainy day…of which there are many here in Seattle.
But Donald, you’ve given me the opportunity to become a better person, a more committed person, a person who digs deep to be present, to take a stand, to learn, to grow.
Donald, when I start to feel hopeless, I have a sure fire way to reset my perspective and my commitment. And it’s that many of our sisters and brothers have felt this way for years – with every killing of a young black man, or drone strike with “civilians” casualties, or stolen land in the name of progress, or simply not having permission to use a bathroom. It is a reminder to me to rally and to sustain, because my fight has only been a fraction of theirs.
Donald, I also have recognized that I may lack the stamina. (You know about women and our weak stamina.) Thank you for pointing that out, Donald, because it made me realize I have to train. I am training my activism like a muscle.
Just like a muscle needs to be stressed to gain strength, I am and I will continue to participate in activities that keep me politically informed and make a difference in resisting your agenda.
A muscle needs recovery after being stressed so I will make time for those activities that give me emotional, spiritual relief and refill my coffers.
Thank you, Donald, for this gift.
I also wanted to let you know that I’m working very hard on a gift to give back to you.
It’s the gift of a more involved and committed citizen who is organizing her life to not tire of resistance. my resilence is growing.
It’s the gift of a citizen, that even after you are long gone, will not return to her couch, and her Netflix, and her glass of wine, but that recognizes that her privilege has allowed her to sidestep participation.
And Donald, this may surprise you, but you’ve given me the gift to try and understand the people not just to my right but to my left. You have inadvertently made me a better listener. Just last week a young woman told me and others that my pink pussy hat made her feel marginalized. I love my hat and my very first thought was “how absurd.” But then I paused and reminded myself to listen and seek out the seeds of truth in what she was sharing. Thanks to you, Donald, I’ve honed my listening skills so I can hear voices of people who have been marginalized. We may not agree on everything but we can agree on fighting you.
And Donald, your gift has made such an impact that I’m pleased to tell you that I am not alone in my gift back to you. Right here, in a plaza in Seattle, on a gray Seattle day, are a group of committed, tireless individuals who plan to give you the same gift.
And beyond this plaza, there are hundreds of people, thousands, in fact millions across the United States who also want to thank you, Donald, and are working just as hard on their gift back to you. A gift of activism, a gift of commitment, a gift of sacrifice, because we love our country.
As you open your gift, Donald, just a heads up…we are taking one thing in return. We are taking back our country.