Throughout history, photographs have captured the emotion and message of movements or pivotal times in history. Many of us can recall seeing images that spoke to the times with many of the photographs moving, inspiring, challenging, angering or calling us to action.
I can still recall the emotion I felt seeing former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama walk during the inauguration parade.
I was sitting at home having celebratory drinks, holding my breath as he walked down the street waving to the crowd as the first Black President of the United States of America. As a Black woman, I should have been overjoyed, but the image that came to my mind was of Coretta Scott King attending the funeral of her husband, Civil Rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr. as their daughter Bernice placed her head in her lap. This iconic image by Moneta Sleet Jr. would go on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography symbolizing the strength, the pain, the heartache and the sacrifice of the Civil Rights Movement.
I prayed that Barack Obama would quickly get back into the bulletproof limousine. While many people celebrated that Barack Obama was the first Black President, there was an underlying tension that was boiling up and seemed to spill out November 8, 2016, as America elected Donald Trump to lead the United States of America.
The disbelief and backlash were almost immediate as many people around the country formed bands of resistance to push back against a man that has been openly racist, sexist and divisive.
I recall sitting on my couch as the 2017 Women’s March took place, and as a poet my phone was going crazy as people messaged me from all over the country to tune in to watch Ashley Judd deliver her poetic address, Nasty Woman. I watched it for a few minutes, and my soul did not connect with the words that she was speaking. Ashley Judd was saying all the right things, and the audience of predominantly White women in their pink pussycat hats were excited, and hype and shouting as she spoke but nothing on the TV screen resonated with me. I felt confused. I am a woman. I am a mother of a daughter that I have raised to stand up and speak her mind. I am 100% about women having the right to choose. I stand faithfully behind women having the right to equal pay. I am all about women loving who they want to love. I support women that speak out about abuse. Even as a woman that had some fundamental issues with Hillary Clinton when I walked into the voting booth, there was no question about who I would be voting for, yet nothing that came across my screen resonated with me that day. I couldn’t figure out why until a photo of Angela Peoples that was taken by Kevin Banatte came across my social media feed. Angela stood in front of 3 White women taking selfies and looking at their phones as Angela stood with a sign that stated, “Don’t Forget White Women Voted for Trump,” as she nonchalantly sucked a lollipop, in a baseball cap, like the around the way girls L.L. Cool J spoke of in his hit song, Around the Way Girl:
‘She can walk with a switch and talk with street slang
I love it when a woman ain’t scared to do her thing
Standing at the bus stop sucking on a lollipop
Once she gets pumping its hard to make the hottie stop
She likes to dance to the rap jam
She sweet as brown sugar with the candied yams
Honey coated complexion
Let’s hear it for the girl she’s from around the way’
Angela Peoples was me. She was authentic. She was unapologetic. She was unfiltered. She was not rehearsed. She was a woman that could be on my block. As L.L. said, she was from around the way. She was a Black woman that understood even in the midst of the hype the reality was that of the White women that voted, 53% of them voted for Donald Trump.
The photograph summed up the disconnect that I was feeling and set the course for where we are today where White women continually stand by and vote for White men that seek to undermine the advancement of humanity in the United States. So apparently there is a disconnect with the multitude of White women that wear their pink hats and safety pins and the White women that continually show up to vote or perhaps some of them are one in the same because just the appearance of resisting is cool now. Resisting is the in thing. Resisting gives them something to do to occupy their afternoons since soaps aren’t that popular. It is cool to wear a RESISTANCE t-shirt and make posters for Instagram photos that might get picked up on national TV. It is profitable for some White women, like Amy Siskind, to RESIST. They are flown all around the world to speak about Donald Trump and the Resistance Movement as they offer their books and resistance merchandise to those that are searching for a way to be a part of something fundamental to impact the world. Resistance is big business for some people.
I recall seeing a Twitter post about The Resistance and how they felt working alongside non-Democrats, and I was appalled. REALLY? Is this where we are now? What DOES IT MATTER if there are people who are NOT DEMOCRATS that understand the fight and want to fight WITH US? Who the hell are these gatekeepers to a movement and who appointed them as gatekeepers?! If you are not fighting against me and want to fight WITH ME, THEN FIGHT! This is not the high school lunchroom where resisting is for the POPULAR KIDS!
However, this is what it is has turned into for many people. For some, it stopped being about Trump and the issues a long time ago and has morphed into likes, retweets, TV shows, books, and spotlights. Resistance has become about popularity and profit and not the purpose.
I am all for people resisting but what happens AFTER the November Election and let’s say the Democrats have the majority? Then what?
Then another picture came across my social media feed.
That is the reality. Some people are ONLY resisting because THEY have been inconvenienced. It has interrupted their brunch and mimosa hour. Injustice was fine until THEY were inconvenienced. They never noticed racism. They never gave a damn about police brutality. They weren’t concerned about other people having healthcare. They never stood side by side with a Black mother whose son was murdered by the police. They didn’t care that Black students were expelled from schools at a disproportionate rate. They never cared that Black people weren’t getting roles in Hollywood. They didn’t care about gun violence as long as it didn’t affect them. It didn’t matter that Black women were raped by a police officer. No one cared that Trayvon Martin was killed walking home from a convenience store. It didn’t matter that Sandra Bland was found dead in a jail cell after a minor traffic stop. No one cared that people threatened to kill Barack Obama. It was okay that Michelle Obama was called an ape. Why? Because their lives were just fine. Injustice didn’t affect them. Injustice happened to “those people,” not them. They could still go to work and golf, attend hot yoga, their kids were okay, and on Sunday they could have brunch, and all was well. And that is what they want to get back to -their comfort.
Some people are only resisting until they can go back to their normal lives.
You don’t want real change you just wanna go back to your brunch.
You don’t really care about children being separated from their parents at the border; you just don’t wanna hear their cries as you eat your omelet.
You don’t really care about police brutality; you just wanna drink your mimosas with no blood on your hands.
You don’t really care about feminism and empowering ALL women; you just wanna get back to the days where being a White woman was enough and White women weren’t called to task for being silent and complicit.
You don’t really care about the 53% and impacting their lives for change; you just want your girlfriend to be able to go to yoga with you without talking about politics.
You don’t really care about Black women and representation; you just wanna go see a movie without thinking about all that Black stuff.
You don’t really care about racism; you just wanna keep banging your racist boyfriend without feeling guilty.
You don’t really care about violence in marginalized communities; you just wanna get afternoon tipsy and be able to go home to your life.
And that is the problem.
Some people want to resist their way back to comfort and not fundamental change. You want to resist your way back to having your head in the sand. You want to resist your way back to pretending racism doesn’t exist. You want to resist your way back to a comfortable brunch. You want to resist your way back to when your life wasn’t inconvenienced not realizing that for Black people and People of Color our lives our inconvenienced EVERY SINGLE DAY! Our lives don’t go back to comfort after an election no matter who takes the House or Senate or Presidency. We don’t get to put aside our posters and enjoy brunches with tarragon-infused scrambled eggs, multigrain pancakes, and skinny girl mimosas.
If this election is in the Democrats favor, it is just a moment to breathe, inhale and exhale before Black people and People of Color continue fighting for justice. Because we are wise enough to know our fight didn’t begin with an election and it doesn’t end with an election.
This resistance will be a continual struggle up a mountain. We are trying to dismantle systems. That is what resistance is. I believe some of you are confused. Resistance isn’t how many retweets you can get or how many followers you have. Resistance is not something you do until the next shiny thing comes along. Resistance will be hard work. It will take getting your hands dirty. It will be difficult conversations. It will be long and arduous and disruptive to your day to day existence, and you may miss your Sunday brunch. Just know, we don’t resist our way to comfort. We resist our way to change.