Here's What To Do When Bigots Come To Your Campus

Here's What To Do When Bigots Invade Your Campus

You have to make do with what you've got, which in my case was a notebook and a marker.

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Last week I shared the story of my experience protesting on campus last year. I shared it in order to give some context for the story I am sharing this week. I realize now that what I thought was protesting last year wasn't even close to the real thing.

September 5th, I was walking from the library back to my dorm room. I didn't have any classes that day and I was looking forward to getting lunch and going home to catch up on homework. I looked up from my phone as I was walking and noticed those same signs from last year demanding that women be submissive to men and nonsense about being gay is a sin. Then I saw the crowd of students and the middle-aged white men littering the steps of our Education building. One had a megaphone and was shouting about how we were all going to hell, amongst a lot of other foolishness.

I stood with the crowd of my peers and listened for a moment. I saw my classmates and peers visibly upset about the men that were harassing them on their own campus once again. I stood there for a while and just watched as other people bravely stepped forward and voiced their anger with the hatred this group had brought here, under the guise of Christianity.

I felt myself getting more frustrated and I had already yelled out a couple things by that point. What I did next is not revolutionary or game-changing by any means, but for someone who doesn't like to draw attention to herself, it was significant. Borders had been formed; the bigots on the building steps and the students a couple of feet away on the sidewalk. I sat on the steps. I pulled out my notebook and a marker from by backpack, wrote "These people [the faux-Christian bigots] are not love. These people are hate. I love you." I flipped it around and help it up and immediately felt everyone's eyes shift to me. For a minute, I felt like I had done the wrong thing. It was corny, wasn't it? What difference was this really going to make here?

Abigail Griffin

Then people started coming up to me, one by one and asking if they could join me on the steps. They took out their own notebooks and we passed my marker down the line. At least five other people sat with me there with their own signs for at least an hour. In that time, I had people come up to me and take pictures of me, say thank you, give me a meaningful smile, a thumbs up, etc. There was even a wonderful person who brought me a bottle of water since it was about 90 degrees out. I didn't think my little sign would do anything but my silent little protest made a lot of people feel more comfortable.

But then my protest wasn't so nice and quiet. One of the bigots moved his homophobic sign in front of me to block people from reading our signs. Angry about the fact that he felt he could do that on our campus, I got up and stood in front of his sign, telling him that he's not going to get to do that or advertise nonsense. He started trying to move his sign around me but I continued to move in front of it, holding my sign up the whole time. A few people even joined me. Eventually, he grew tired of us and put the sign away for a while.

I ended up staying out there for a total of four hours that day, my sign in hand. I stayed on the steps well after the bigots left campus, talking to the people who had joined me and discussing ways to be better activists the next time these people showed up on campus, while additionally talking about how we could take this energy and be better for the people of color on campus. I learned a lot - about myself, about activism, about what solidarity really means. I want to acknowledge the people who joined me and gave me water and supported me in any way. It was a small act on my part, but the kindness I experienced that day was immense.

My only goal was to make my peers feel more comfortable on their campus amidst the chaos. And while I didn't change those bigots' minds, I made people smile... and I'll be more prepared next time they come around.

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An Open Letter To Democrats From A Millennial Republican

Why being a Republican doesn't mean I'm inhuman.
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Dear Democrats,

I have a few things to say to you — all of you.

You probably don't know me. But you think you do. Because I am a Republican.

Gasp. Shock. Horror. The usual. I know it all. I hear it every time I come out of the conservative closet here at my liberal arts university.

SEE ALSO: What I Mean When I Say I'm A Young Republican

“You're a Republican?" people ask, saying the word in the same tone that Draco Malfoy says “Mudblood."

I know that not all Democrats feel about Republicans this way. Honestly, I can't even say for certain that most of them do. But in my experience, saying you're a Republican on a liberal college campus has the same effect as telling someone you're a child molester.

You see, in this day and age, with leaders of the Republican Party standing up and spouting unfortunately ridiculous phrases like “build a wall," and standing next to Kim Davis in Kentucky after her release, we Republicans are given an extreme stereotype. If you're a Republican, you're a bigot. You don't believe in marriage equality. You don't believe in racial equality. You don't believe in a woman's right to choose. You're extremely religious and want to impose it on everyone else.

Unfortunately, stereotypes are rooted in truth. There are some people out there who really do think these things and feel this way. And it makes me mad. The far right is so far right that they make the rest of us look bad. They make sure we aren't heard. Plenty of us are fed up with their theatrics and extremism.

For those of us brave enough to wear the title “Republican" in this day and age, as millennials, it's different. Many of us don't agree with these brash ideas. I'd even go as far as to say that most of us don't feel this way.

For me personally, being a Republican doesn't even mean that I automatically vote red.

When people ask me to describe my political views, I usually put it pretty simply. “Conservative, but with liberal social views."

“Oh," they say, “so you're a libertarian."

“Sure," I say. But that's the thing. I'm not really a libertarian.

Here's what I believe:

I believe in marriage equality. I believe in feminism. I believe in racial equality. I don't want to defund Planned Parenthood. I believe in birth control. I believe in a woman's right to choose. I believe in welfare. I believe more funds should be allocated to the public school system.

Then what's the problem? Obviously, I'm a Democrat then, right?

Wrong. Because I have other beliefs too.

Yes, I believe in the right to choose — but I'd always hope that unless a pregnancy would result in the bodily harm of the woman, that she would choose life. I believe in welfare, but I also believe that our current system is broken — there are people who don't need it receiving it, and others who need it that cannot access it.

I believe in capitalism. I believe in the right to keep and bear arms, because I believe we have a people crisis on our hands, not a gun crisis. Contrary to popular opinion, I do believe in science. I don't believe in charter schools. I believe in privatizing as many things as possible. I don't believe in Obamacare.

Obviously, there are other topics on the table. But, generally speaking, these are the types of things we millennial Republicans get flack for. And while it is OK to disagree on political beliefs, and even healthy, it is NOT OK to make snap judgments about me as a person. Identifying as a Republican does not mean I am the same as Donald Trump.

Just because I am a Republican, does not mean you know everything about me. That does not give you the right to make assumptions about who I am as a person. It is not OK for you to group me with my stereotype or condemn me for what I feel and believe. And for a party that prides itself on being so open-minded, it shocks me that many of you would be so judgmental.

So I ask you to please, please, please reexamine how you view Republicans. Chances are, you're missing some extremely important details. If you only hang out with people who belong to your own party, chances are you're missing out on great people. Because, despite what everyone believes, we are not our stereotype.

Sincerely,

A millennial Republican

Cover Image Credit: NEWSWORK.ORG

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Why The Idea Of 'No Politics At The Dinner Table' Takes Place And Why We Should Avoid It

When did having a dialogue become so rare?

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Why has the art of civilized debate and conversation become unheard of in daily life? Why is it considered impolite to talk politics with coworkers and friends? Expressing ideas and discussing different opinions should not be looked down upon.

I have a few ideas as to why this is our current societal norm.

1. Politics is personal.

Your politics can reveal a lot about who you are. Expressing these (sometimes controversial) opinions may put you in a vulnerable position. It is possible for people to draw unfair conclusions from one viewpoint you hold. This fosters a fear of judgment when it comes to our political beliefs.

Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum of political belief, there is a world of assumption that goes along with any opinion. People have a growing concern that others won't hear them out based on one belief.

As if a single opinion could tell you all that you should know about someone. Do your political opinions reflect who you are as a person? Does it reflect your hobbies? Your past?

The question becomes "are your politics indicative enough of who you are as a person to warrant a complete judgment?"

Personally, I do not think you would even scratch the surface of who I am just from knowing my political identification.

2. People are impolite.

The politics themselves are not impolite. But many people who wield passionate, political opinion act impolite and rude when it comes to those who disagree.

The avoidance of this topic among friends, family, acquaintances and just in general, is out of a desire to 'keep the peace'. Many people have friends who disagree with them and even family who disagree with them. We justify our silence out of a desire to avoid unpleasant situations.

I will offer this: It might even be better to argue with the ones you love and care about, because they already know who you are aside from your politics, and they love you unconditionally (or at least I would hope).

We should be having these unpleasant conversations. And you know what? They don't even need to be unpleasant! Shouldn't we be capable of debating in a civilized manner? Can't we find common ground?

I attribute the loss of political conversation in daily life to these factors. 'Keeping the peace' isn't an excuse. We should be discussing our opinions constantly and we should be discussing them with those who think differently.

Instead of discouraging political conversation, we should be encouraging kindness and understanding. That's how we will avoid the unpleasantness that these conversations sometimes bring.

By avoiding them altogether, we are doing our youth a disservice because they are not being exposed to government, law, and politics, and they are not learning to deal with people and ideas that they don't agree with.

Next Thanksgiving, talk politics at the table.

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