My Anxiety Doesn't Allow Me to March But I Protest Every Day
I don't volunteer for things that involve interacting with a lot of people I don’t know. If it's marching, sitting, or even asking for signatures, I become very hesitant. It’s the possibility that people may be aggressively oppressive and become violent, whether it be with their words or with their actions, that keeps me anxious. Not to mention that the ever-looming idea of police brutality is in the back of my head. If I decided to march downtown and it turned into a riot, who knows what would happen to me? And if I got put in jail, as a Black woman, so much of my life would be over. Or if someone called me by a slur through the phone, that would be a painful memory that I just know I would think about during those nights when I can't sleep.
That’s how I think.
One day I may build the courage to do things like phone bank (Anyone else not able to easily make phone calls?) or canvas for a cause. Maybe I’ll even be able to march. But regardless, I make sure I protest every day in my own way.
I challenge the system. I am a college student, so when I get assignments, I don’t take the easy way out. I challenge myself to choose topics that allow me to explore the detrimental norms that are the foundation of this society. I try to speak with kindness and stick up for people whose voices are silenced in everyday conversation. When I can, I’ll go with people who need a friend to stay on the phone with them when they walk home at night or want to be safe at a party. Though I'm only in my city because of school, I try to get involved in municipal elections and getting involved in on campus politics as well. Not to mention, Concept: giving people platforms to be seen and heard.
Protesting isn’t necessarily the goal of all of these actions, but it’s what I can do, and it challenges oppressive thinking. Nothing is stronger than a person who knows they matter and feels valuable. If I can help someone feel that way, I’ve protested against rape culture, racism, misogyny, bigotry, and so on. Some may not agree. Some may say that’s not activism. But I don’t stay silent and, to simultaneously self-care so I can continue not to stay silent, this is necessary.
It’s also important that everyone doesn’t challenge the system in the exact same way. We need people on all sides, people who will infiltrate federal government, local government, media, conversations amongst friends, and anything that will change the culture around us.
What you do is enough if you’re trying. Keep on friends.
Teri Bradford is the Editor-in-Chief of Concept. Meet the rest of the family on the staff page.