You Are Not Alone When You Stand Up To Hate

A few weekends back, Jaron (the significant other), Bernie (the fur baby-puppy), and I attended a vigil held on behalf of Heather Heyer and all those who have been hurt or killed while standing up against hate.

I’m so glad that we went.

It’s easy to succumb to anger, frustration, fear, depression, listlessness at times like these. Like many others, I watched in disbelief as Trump defended fascist protesters in Charlottesville, North Carolina. “Heather could have easily been any one of us,” I thought to myself that night. My heart felt heavy.

After being laid off for two months, my spirits have not been the strongest. It’s further challenging to stay positive during this presidency especially when the President of the United States fails to denounce fascism. I, alongside many others, already feel worn down by this man and his antics. It’s unbelievable that it has only been seven months since we inherited this hell.

What I have to continually remind myself—since Trump has taken office—is that I’m not alone. Even at times like these, when people are still moronically sporting their “Proud Deplorable” and “Make America Great Again” memorabilia, we are not alone. We are not outnumbered.

We are less alone now that many people who voted for Donald Trump are openly apologizing for their votes. Well-known members of the Republican Party are also beginning to disassociate from him because of his response to the white supremacists’ violence in North Carolina.

I can’t help but think to myself, “So Nazis are what it takes? Not Trump’s racism towards other groups? Not his sexist, disgusting remarks about women? Not his climate change denials? It took Nazis for people to start taking responsibility for their votes?”

While I’m glad some of you could finally join us, why did it take you this long? Why did it have to get this bad for you to apologize for YOUR candidate? I can’t help but be angry at the people who voted us into this mess. I want you to hold yourselves accountable. I want you to help us fix this.

During times such as these, I can’t help but reflect on the deadly catchphrase that echoed throughout the internet (especially via social media) during our last Presidential election: “the lesser of two evils.” I wonder if people still feel this way? I wonder if people still think there is actually a comparison anymore?

***

When I woke up to the notifications on my phone that Sunday morning, I was angry, upset, and so disappointed with my country. I did not want to get out of my bed. I then saw a Facebook event for the vigil. So rather than be upset alone, I decided that I wanted to be upset alongside others.

That late afternoon, Jaron and I packed up our puppy and biked over to the vigil. It was something for us to do. It felt good to have something to do and somewhere to go because yelling at my walls and sighing into my pillow were not rewarding efforts.

We arrived early to Heather’s vigil, titled “The Vigil For Those Who Stood Against Hate,” located at the Thomas Paine Plaza (straight across from the North Side of City Hall). The event was arranged on Sunday, August 13th (specifically in response to the news of Charlottesville) by groups such as Philly Women Rally, Philly UP, March for Truth Philadelphia, Women’s March PA and Tuesdays with Toomey.

When we arrived around 7 pm, organizations and their speakers were beginning to set up shop under the “Government of People” statue which seemed incredibly fitting. The statue’s inscription reads:

“the wellspring of society,

the hope of the future”

Similar to the Women’s March, everyone we bumped into was friendly. As the sun set more and more people arrived. It became an impressive group. I was excited to hear from the speakers. People began handing out candles and lighting them to honor Heather and the many others who unjustly lost their lives in the face of hate.

As the candles created a soft glow around me, I felt safe amongst allies. I felt safe around people who want to be better versions of themselves. I felt safe around people who are willing to unite together to protect each other. The cold anger and hopelessness I had been feeling for months, seemed to dissipate as I watched those around me talk, laugh, cry, shake hands, hug…

This was the environment I needed to help me out of my funk. This is what I needed to remind myself never to give up—not on myself and especially not on others.

This is the environment you need, my readers.

Heather’s vigil was filled with so much positivity but that positivity also included being confrontational about the issues at hand. The speakers were powerful. I had goosebumps and tears in my eyes as I listened. Chants circulated through our unified group. “We will lean in!” “We will push back!”

Since I began my new job the following day, I was unable to listen to all the speakers. But I was glad I went. It felt good to be present and amongst so many strong people. Like the Women’s March, this was a rewarding experience in multiple ways.

***

I know I have written about it before, but please do yourself a favor and become more politically active in your community.

Join a march. Paint a sign. Make a flyer. Join a discussion group. Listen to a podcast on the go. We have our own radio talk show via Raging Chicken called Out d-Coup, and you can also keep positive and informed with our beloved Kutztown University English professors, Dr. Amanda Morris and Dr. Colleen Clemens, and their podcast, Inside 254, where they discuss many issues, not only through a political lens.

You could also do what I do and write about your political frustrations or experiences! It certainly helps. Share your ideas with others. Vent with others. Heal with others!

Another vice I have actively been utilizing to get through this Presidency is the Meetup app. If you haven’t downloaded it yet you really should! It’s free and doesn’t only involve political meetups, but for the sake of my article, I will share about how the app is benefiting my political life.  

There are so many political groups in Philadelphia that do all sorts of things. Some are formal—in that they provide you with information to read before a meeting—while others are more informal. I recently joined an informal group that meets once a month at local spots to grab a beer and discuss ways of becoming more politically active. In this sense, I’m able to combine two things I love: craft beer and political activism. Pretty cool! But perhaps you like to hike and talk politics? Or sow scarves for fellow marchers and protestors? Or speak at rallies? Well, they have groups like these too! And if they don’t have a group that catches your eye, you can always create your own using this app. Sorry if I sound like an add, but this app is very convenient for me and well organized, so perhaps you may like it too?

***

If you are in a toxic place politically, take what control you can with your free time. Surround yourself with positivity and support. Plan your next action. Action is important whether you are listening, writing, marching, protesting, voting, meeting, talking etc. Action is what gives us power. Action keeps us present and helps us move forward together.

Please don’t alienate yourself. That is what Trump and his loyal supporters want. You are not alone! Keep yourself surrounded with people who are supportive and in return your presence and actions will make others feel supported.

“Lean in and push back” my friends!

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About Sharayah Bower 12 Articles
Sharayah Bower is a Kutztown University alumni with a Master's degree in English. She has focused closely on African American and Indigenous feminine texts and plans to pursue a PhD program where she can further her studying, knowledge, and awareness about these cultures and their contemporary issues (especially those regarding gender and rape culture). In the near future, she intends to teach English and Composition by focusing closely on narrative writing as an attempt to more effectively educate others about--and counter--rape culture. She also enjoys tutoring others with their writing because it has only helped to improve her own.