Earlier today the Seattle area lit up with protests from Bothell to Tacoma as colleges, universities and primary schools participated in walkouts. Participants were asked to wear all black. At 12 noon faculty left their classes and students parted from their studies in order to show their resistance to Trump’s Election and the violent actions of his supports. After arriving on UW Bothell campus to participate in the protest, wearing all black I met the rally in the plaza. While I was setting up my camera to take photographs of the demonstration a student I recognized from UWave Radio approached me, “Can you believe this?” he asked. I smiled back with pride, I was proud of the students who organized the walkout, many of them Black Student Union members, and the union they were able to form so quickly across Seattle with participating protesters. We were using our voice to protest the election that surpassed the popular vote f the people. While screwing the lens onto my camera I told him, “Yea, It’s incredible”. At that point I realized that he wasn’t ‘excited’ about the demonstration like I was.
“I agree with the cause and everything, but it’s not cool how they’re disrupting classes.” I couldn’t even digest the white privilege in his statement. If you supported the cause then why aren’t you out here chanting with us? Because you have the privilege not to care! The election doesn’t threaten your residence, education, safety or human rights. This student, a cis-gender white male, is probably not accustomed to the feeling of being inconvenienced so when protesters disrupted his Managerial Economics course with Professor Gomez they were perceived ‘wrong’ for doing so. When it is actually the system that forces marginalized groups to protest that is wrong. Although I respect the opinions of all students, I didn’t share any sentiment with him.
The group began circled in the plaza and then walked through the promenade passed library toward the bus stop and across the street, traveling to city hall next door to the Bothell Police Department. The fairly sized group circled up in front of city hall to allow individual speakers, including ASUB’s current student body president and the first woman of color in this position, Tanya Kumar. The speakers ranged from students and faculty. Faculty professor Dr. Janelle Silva, shared her support for undocumented students and students of color who are fearful, offering her office as a safe space for organizers. Another students, Dom Juarez, ASUWB Director of Public Relations shared his experience as a senior in the mechanical engineering program sacrificing valuable class time to be apart of the protest because of its significance and importance. Another graduating senior, organizer and activist, Aretha Basu,
encouraged undergraduate students to step up and take on leadership roles in the movements on UWB campus. Her hope is that the fight for the long delayed Diversity Center will not stop after her graduation. Several students stepped into the circle to share their experiences, frustrations, in a world led by Donald Trump. The overall message urged participants to become active in organizing and not to be idle when faced with injustice. Some students had stories of violence and assaults that have occurred already in the past few days since Trump’s election.
Around 2:30 the group left Bothell City Hall and marched back to campus through downtown Bothell, passing the burned down remains of several businesses that were destroyed in the Bothell Fire this past summer. We shouted the following chants: “Muslim rights are human rights”, “No Justice No Peace” , “People United will never be defeated” and “Who’s lives matter, Black lives matter”. The group also shouted “Fuck Donald Trump” as Walkout organizer Umar Shah marched as he held a speaker over his shoulder that played out FDT (Fuck Donald Trump) by YG ft. Nipsey Hussle in maximum volume. We chanted along with the music like it was our battle cry. The rap song, although written during Trump’s campaign prior to his election, is still relevant as people resist the misogynistic, homophobic, racist, sexist, ableist that has been elected to be the leader of the United States.
As we walked through the middle of the streets holding up peace signs and fists we blocked traffic for blocks behind us. Business and homeowners watched from their doorways, some taking photos and waving while others drove by with a thumbs up. A few drivers beeped their horn in solidarity. As we marched through the streets, an undercover black police SUV trailed behind the group while marked police cars drove ahead meeting us at intersections and in parking lots. Police cars followed us from the school through the streets until we were back on campus. This was one of the biggest protests that UWB has facilitated disturbing classes, disrupting neighborhoods, blocking traffic and obstructing local businesses in the area like never before. As Bothell develops into an upscale suburbia, UW students won’t allow Bothell residents and passerby to forget that the election of Donald Trump has oppressed the voices of marginalized groups and UWB stands in solidarity with these groups.
There were people that came to the protest to be disruptive and argumentative. An older white man, not from UWB, shouted combative statements toward the group until faculty addressed him. I’ve been asked many times by both Whites and people of color, “Why protest?” The question usually comes out of a place of ignorance from people who’ve never attended demonstrations before. Today’s walkout provided me with a perfect illustration of why I participate in public protests. Today I walked alongside peers that I haven’t seen in months since my graduation, I felt pride in the students that were leading the way at UWB after my class. My reason for protesting goes far beyond raising awareness or sharing my experiences with others. When I’m out marching in a protest I know that I am walking with a crowd of people who share and accept my perspective on the human rights violations that the United States participates in everyday. I feel affirmed and valued in spaces that protest the ways of this country that has oppressed my people for centuries. There aren’t a lot of spaces where an African American woman can feel like she belongs and, surprisingly for some, when in engulfed within the crowd of protesters, I feel like I belong. In those spaces, I am surrounded by people who recognize me as a person worthy of the rights and liberties that all others are privileged to enjoy without resistance. We resist Trump’s presidency in an effort to resist the misogynistic, homophobic, racist, sexist, ableist negative behavior and violence that his campaign has uprooted from the depths of America’s evil spirit with his slogan “Let’s make America great again”. America was never great and today UWB made sure that Bothell and the greater Seattle area won’t forget that.