I had never done security stuff before, especially not for a big rally that deals with actual police. I was pretty nervous to do the security training before heading out to the action. The training helped give me an idea of what it will be like, but the rest is still rather unclear. It sounded like it won't cause too much trouble though, so I remained optimistic and headed out to the event. It was a great sunny Friday and people were gathering on the pier for the rally, to volunteer, or just tanning on the lawn in general.
As security marshal, I got a free t-shirt to wear. I was so excited to DIY design my free tshirt with the scissors they provided. I missed getting free t-shirts at Rice all the time and being able to let my creative juices flow! People complimented my t-shirt afterwards, and it made me feel great.
We had further security training, after which we began our posts to keep the community safe for the event. People from all walks of life came, some on bikes, some on glamorous high heels, some in beat up sneakers, others in heavy duty boots. People of all genders and ethnicity gathered to chat, catch up, and enjoy the day's festivities.
The speakers before the rally were really inspirational, despite the fact that I was on the far back side doing security and couldn't see them. One thing that particularly struck me was their emphasis on solidarity with other struggles. One speaker talked about trans activists as activists also for housing rights and employment rights, and they were proud of a rally that combines all these struggles. I don't think it's a focal point in a lot of rallies to acknowledge other struggles because they want to focus everyone's energies on the rally at hand.
It reminded me of my time in Curarrehue, Chile, with the Mapuche community. Anita told us that their fight is also our fight. Sure, they're fighting for land rights far away from us, but their struggle is also a struggle for our rights to housing and land and a clean and safe environment away from big corporations' activities.
At the end of my time abroad, we had a session on what to do coming back to the States and to our lives here. We had to brainstorm and practice what we would say when people casually ask us how our time abroad was. I decided I would share with people this quote I learned early on in the program, back in New York.
Lilla Watson, an Aboriginal activist, is credited with the quote,
"If you have come here to help me, you are wasting our time.That quote has stayed with me throughout all the countries. Even this summer as I intern at CAAAV, I want to learn about where my liberation is bound up with other Asian Americans, other youth, other women, other people of color, and other New Yorkers.
But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together."
Before we marched, we were asked to turn to our neighbors and say, "your liberation is my liberation."
Throughout the rally, I joined in on the chants for transgender rights and it felt so empowering to stand in solidarity with fellow human beings. We talked a lot about what solidarity means and how it looks like on the lavish UN floor in Santiago, Chile. At many points in our discussion it sounded like we were not very hopeful about how solidarity can be successful and meaningful. But it meant the world to me to offer my time on a beautiful Friday afternoon to support a community that also supports my struggles, even though I know very little about theirs. Doing security, surprisingly, is full of love and dignity for the community we protect, and solidarity never seemed so real and meaningful.