Text and photos By Lin Collette
Though I supported the goals of Saturday’s Rhode Island Women’s Solidarity Rally at the State House, I was a reluctant participant. I dread large crowds where I couldn’t move around easily.
Conversely, I was worried there wouldn’t be many people.
I feared counter-protestors would try to railroad a peaceful gathering of protestors.
I thought I’d lose precious time, the loss of hours spent more productively. And I didn’t relish having to emerge from the cocoon I’ve hid in since November and confront what is really happening.
As a disabled, middle-aged woman I face the real possibility that the Social Security income and Medicare benefits I need to survive will be eviscerated.
I have watched many of those around me realize that their rights as human beings are in danger.
I have been filled with fear and dread since I realized late on November 8 that Donald Trump would indeed be our president.
Surrounded as I am by Trump supporters or those who just don’t understand what’s happened, I have felt alone and unable to cope.
Yet after today I have some hope.
Today we recognized the anger and despair we’ve felt since Election Day but, at least for one day, we managed to laugh and nod in recognition at what the many speakers said.
We heard rousing calls to action against the forces that seek to return our society to the bad old days of oppression.
There were organizations that took advantage of this opportunity to inform us of what needs to be done to preserve the rights of all to health care, equal opportunity, marriage, jobs and fair pay.
I don’t know how many people showed up at the State House – but I know it was loud. [ProJo's estimate was around 5,000].
The Trump supporters who showed up soon left with tails between their legs, having had their “Trump is My President” catcalls continually drowned out by enthusiastic “Rise Up” cheers.
Although the crowd was predominantly white and female, there were many men who added their voices.
I saw many persons of color, religions, sexual orientations, ages, and abilities rally around the need for community action to both save what we have and to move forward.
No, it wasn’t a waste of time to go to the rally today.
I left with a renewed rush of energy and purpose.
The fear and dread is still there, but I feel empowered to face it and transform it into action so that I and countless others can survive and surpass the trials of the next four years.