Goodbye, Protest Signs

I’ve never watched Marie Kondo, or read much about Swedish death cleaning, but one thing I know for sure – I have too much shit stuff.

And what, exactly, do I imagine what would happen if I died suddenly  – or even, not so suddenly? If, I don’t know, there was a 
GLOBAL PANDEMIC going all Black Friday at Walmart on people all around the world?

My poor son and his partner would have to sort through my stuff.

And, damn, Skippy, I have a lot of stuff.

It’s hard to get rid of shit stuff, when you have an emotional connection to it. Which, I do, and my son does not.

It feels kinda weird, that I have a certain fondness for so many of my protest signs, when the act of protesting, itself, is because something awful was going down. 

I would like to live in an America where protesting is wholly unnecessary.

And I don’t. I may not see it in my lifetime.

Still, looking at my old signs, they aren’t wholly disconnected from some good experiences. Things I learned, about myself, and others. Pride at living in a country where, at least at the moment, we are free to protest. Connection with other humans willing and able to put their bodies on the line, to march in the streets for what we believe.

Take this sign, which I made to join the #100CityTrayvon March.

I learned a lot at that march, including quite a lot about my own internal racism, my preconceptions and fears.

And then there was Slutwalk. Because slut-shaming is something that has personally impacted me, almost all my life, it was important to me, to volunteer and attend. To stand up, physically, against rape culture.

I attended Slutwalk 2015, just a few days after finishing my radiation treatment for breast cancer. I was wobbly, but I did it!

And then… the nightmarish election of 2016, followed by the Women’s March in 2017.

I had a sign-making party at my apartment, before the march, and friends came and made extra signs, which we shared with a few of the 750,000 estimated attendees in Los Angeles. I took the Metro from North Hollywood, with my bestie, Cassie. That was the good part.

And BEING there, with so many incredible human beings. Mothers, fathers, children, people of all shapes, sizes, colors, genders. So many incredible people, so united in purpose. It was overwhelming.

The bad part is this march is where my feet, which had already had Issues, got really bad. My Morton’s neuroma, in my right foot, was joined by plantar fasciitis, in my left. DURING the march.

By the time we were queued up to catch the Metro back to NoHo, I was almost weeping with pain. I had to ice both feet for hours, after I returned home.

I tried again, for the “Release the Tax Returns” March in April 2017. This was more sparsely attended, and I drove, so I wasn’t standing for hours waiting for the Metro, as I had in January.

My feet were still not happy campers. But then I saw a podiatrist, got a cortisone injection, got new orthopedic inserts, and new walking shoes, at the place where he recommended. I’d be able do Pride 2017 in June, right?

Another poster-making party. Another group of great friends.

Me and my gorgeous niece, Savannah.

And… another time I could start, but not finish a March.

A year later. More, better new shoes. Months of physical therapy on my feet. And they were putting CHILDREN in cages. Between my outrage and my improved condition, I could get through a march again, right?

June 2018, marching with Cassie again.

Welp… I got through it. Senator Kamala Harris spoke there, among others, and she was super-impressive. But we didn’t stay till the end.

I even ventured out to another march, #KeepFamiliesTogether, in July 2018, in MacArthur Park instead of downtown LA this time.

But… it is clear that my marching days are behind me. I was dying to participate in the #BlackLivesMatter protests, but I have had to face the sad reality. I can’t get through protests physically anymore. On the rare occasions my feet aren’t barking like dogs, it’s my back giving me misery. And for Black Lives Matter, with the violence and infiltration by outside agitators, my presence could actually put some of my friends at risk, if they stayed with me or tried to protect me, if something bad went down.

I hate it. I hate that while there are still so many good reasons to be outraged and march in the streets, those days are behind me.

But I have had to accept that they are. While I’m not Disabled, with a capital D, I am simply not fit enough to stand or march for several hours at a stretch. While that was never the only thing I did, I now must focus on the other ways to support the causes that are important to me. And there are many other ways, from being an online presence, to calling and emailing government officials, that can be done by a gimpy woman behind a screen.

And so… my signs are gone. I won’t need them for future protests.

Bittersweet moment, but we all have such moments, don’t we?

Have you attended any of these protests?
Have you had to give up on doing protests, or other things?
Your thoughts?