The dinner table may not always be the best place to discuss politics, but as a student living away from home, it may be the only time to talk with your family about your values and political issues. While I was home for the weekend, I was telling my parents about my interest in attending the Women's March On Washington this Saturday, January 21, and my mom asked me an intriguing question.
She said, "Growing up in the Soviet Union, I was taught to never speak out against the government. Donald Trump is going to be president whether you like it or not, what's the point of protesting?"
So, here's my answer.
It's one of the most American things you can do.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects our rights to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and the right to peacefully assemble. These rights were established to challenge our government and ensure that the voice of the people will always be louder than the voice of the party in power.
Actions speak louder than words.
It's fairly easy to ignore marginalized groups when all they do is talk. However, it is virtually impossible to ignore thousands of people, physically marching in solidarity, for ideas and concerns that they feel are important in American society.
I can and will speak for others.
I identify with a number of marginalized groups as well as privileged groups in American society. Not everyone feels confident or able to speak out for what they believe, but I do. Therefore, it is my responsibility to take action for those who cannot.
Activism and policy change cannot occur in hindsight.
Often, it is difficult to "see the point" until something has changed. It is up to us to stand up for what we believe in and be part of the catalyst that drives that change.
We cannot remain silent.
We must always challenge the status quo in our nation and across the world. As Elie Wiesel said, "Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim." Without protests, women would not vote, our schools would still be segregated, and our friends in the LGBT community would not be able to marry the ones that they love.
I encourage all of my readers to stand firm in what they believe and when they see something that is unjust to them to take action.