February 4, 2017.
It’s 9 PM and I’m exhausted.
My ears are ringing, fingers stiff from the cold.
I just got home ten minutes ago from today’s march.
It was a National Day of Action across Canada today. In Toronto this afternoon, hordes of passionate protestors gathered for the March Against Islamophobia and White Supremacy, myself included. The event began in the middle of University Avenue, rather than on the steps of the US Consulate after authorities moved the congregation away.
After multiple speakers, prayers, and poetry, the march began in the very heart of Toronto. People marched on the pavement of University Avenue, to Dundas, down Yonge, then around to Queen. Chants drowned out the traffic and noise; signs and banners competed with the clear blue sky.
No ban! No wall! Justice! For all!
Muslim lives! They matter here!
Black lives! They matter here!
I feel at once fatigued and invigorated by today’s supportive rally.
I’m tired because of the fact that this protest had to happen in the first place. When Trump rolled in his executive order, euphemistically titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” last week, I was speechless. The chaos that has then ensued after the implementation of the travel (read: Muslim) ban was not a shock, however. When basic civil rights are done away with, what does a person have left but their anger and frustration?
This was the undercurrent of today’s march in Toronto.
But it also mingled with a fervor only unification can bring. People brought their children and pets to the march, despite the freezing temperature. Friends brought friends, who brought signs and banners and enthusiasm unmatched. Everyone brought their voices.
And now, as I type this, I’ve realized I lost mine.
By the end of the march, the cold had gotten to my throat, but the crowd kept going. And that was a sight to see. Hundreds of people marched in front of me with their witty, angry, and hopeful signs; hundreds more followed on my heels.
The news is on now, and I’m seeing footage from protests around the world:
London, with people protesting against PM Theresa May’s visit with Trump.
New York, at the Stonewall National Monument.
San Francisco, Washington D.C., Denver, Austin, Philadelphia.
For the third week, masses of people flooded the streets, the consulates, the embassies. And it’s all for the people who have been separated from their families, detained and mistreated at airports, and have suffered attacks in their holy sanctuaries.
So yes, while there is fury, there is also solidarity.
But honestly, all I’m thinking is: what will happen next? I am a woman of colour who lived in the US for thirteen years of her life before moving to Canada two years ago. Minority identities intersect through me. I cannot separate myself from the fear I was conditioned to grow up with, to live through. I cannot detach from myself the fear I feel for my friends and family at risk, back in California.
Two weeks in, and the world is in flames.
What will the next four years bring? For Americans? For Canadians? For us as University students? What do you all think?