Here's What To Do When Bigots Invade 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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I'm The College Girl Who Likes Trump And Hates Feminism, And Living On A Liberal Campus Is Terrifying

I will not sugarcoat it: I don't feel safe on my own campus.

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I will get right to the point: being a conservative on a liberal college campus in 2019 downright terrifying.

At my university, I'm sure about 90% of the population, both students and faculty, are liberals. They are very outspoken, never afraid to express their views, opinions, and feelings in several ways. There are pride events for the LGBT community, a huge celebration for MLK day, and tons of events for feminists.

Then there's the minority: the conservatives. The realists. The "racists," "bigots," and "the heartless." I am everything the liberals absolutely despise.

I like Donald Trump because he puts America first and is actually getting things done. He wants to make our country a better place.

I want a wall to keep illegals out because I want my loved ones and me to be safe from any possible danger. As for those who are genuinely coming here for a better life, JUST FILL OUT THE PAPERWORK INSTEAD OF SNEAKING AROUND.

I'm pro-life; killing an infant at nine months is inhumane to me (and yet liberals say it's inhumane to keep illegals out…but let's not get into that right now).

I hate feminism. Why? Because modern feminism isn't even feminism. Slandering the male species and wanting to take down the patriarchy is just ridiculous.

I hate the media. I don't trust anyone in it. I think they are all biased, pathological liars. They purposely make our president look like the devil himself, leaving out anything good he does.

I will not sugarcoat it: I don't feel safe on my own campus.

I mostly keep my opinions to myself out of fear. When I end up getting one of my "twisted" and "uneducated" thoughts slip out, I cringe, waiting for the slap in the face.

Don't get me wrong; not everyone at my university is hostile to those who think differently than they do.

I've shared my opinions with some liberal students and professors before, and there was no bloodshed. Sure, we may not see eye to eye, but that's okay. That just means we can understand each other a little better.

Even though the handful of students and faculty I've talked to were able to swallow my opinions, I'm still overwhelmed by the thousands of other people on campus who may not be as kind and attentive. But you can't please everybody. That's just life.

Your school is supposed to be a safe environment where you can be yourself. Just because I think differently than the vast majority of my peers doesn't mean I deserve to be a target for ridicule. No one conservative does. Scratch that, NO ONE DOES.

I don't think I'll ever feel safe.

Not just on campus, but anywhere. This world is a cruel place. All I can do is stand firm in my beliefs and try to tolerate and listen to the clashing opinions of others. What else can I do?

All I can say is... listen. Be nice. Be respectful of other's opinions, even if you strongly disagree. Besides, we all do have one thing in common: the desire for a better country.

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Dear Young Voices Of America, Stand Up, Speak Up, And Do Something

Our time is now.

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Dear young voices of America, I think we can both agree that we are sick of being told we are America's future while simultaneously being told our opinions don't matter. Now I personally do not listen to the people that tell me I'm better seen than heard; however, I know there are people that are a little timider when it comes to raising their voices. I am here to encourage you to be loud and speak up on topics that matter to you. There is no better time than the present to make your voice heard. Whether you are advocating for change in your school or the government, your opinion matters and is relevant.

We are the future of our country. How are we supposed to evoke change and reform if we can't have our voices heard? I call bullshit and I think it's time to take action. Even if you're the first or only person to advocate for your cause, be that person. Don't be afraid of anyone that tries to stand in your way. The only person that can stop you from speaking up for yourself and your cause is you. No matter how many nos you have to hear to get a yes or how many doors you have to knock on to get someone to open up, never give up. Never give up on your cause, never give up on yourself or the people you're representing, just don't do it. There is someone out there that supports you. Maybe they're just too shy to raise their voice too. Be encouraging and be supportive and get people to take a stand with you.

It is never too early or too late to start thinking about your future or to take action. But don't hesitate to say something. The sooner you start speaking up, the sooner you have people joining you and helping you, and the sooner you start to see and experience change. So get up, make that sign, write that letter, make that phone call, take part in that march, give that speech. Do whatever you feel fit to get your point across. Shout it from the rooftops, write it on your profile, send it in a letter, ignore everyone that tries to tell you to give up. Maybe they don't understand now, maybe they don't want to listen, maybe they're afraid to listen, but the more you talk about it and help them understand what exactly you are trying to get across, they will join you.

Even when it feels like you have nobody on your side but yourself, I am on your side. I will cheer you on, I will march with you hand in hand, I will write letters and make phone calls and help you find your voice. My life changed when I found my voice and yours will too.

So dear young voices of America, the time is now. Your time is now. Don't be afraid of the obstacles that you may have to face. Someone is out there waiting for you, waiting to grab your hand and march on with you. As Tarana Burke once said "Get up. Stand up. Speak up. Do something."

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