I had several interesting experience upon a recent visit to London. The first was joining a mass protest outside the Houses of Parliament during the debate on whether the State visit invitation should be revoked.
We knew it had already been decided that this would not happen, the government had declared this a week or so earlier, but still, they were duty bound to debate, and as such, I felt duty bound to protest.
People say it’s pointless and laugh and jeer at the protestors, but I don’t think so. I’m not usually the protesting type, I don’t like crowds and (this is where my white priviledge shows) I’ve never really had a reason to protest until now. I very nearly joined the #saveourNHS ones but I was, genuinely ill.
So, this was my second protest. I took a good long look at myself during the train ride and wondered, why do we do it? Why do I do it, when it seems pointless?
The answer I think is a rather more complex one, as anything worthwhile usually is. I protest to exercise my democratic right to make my voice heard, I protest to show I am not okay with what is going on, I protest to show solidarity with those being victimised, I protest so I can look back and say with certainty ‘I tried’. ‘I was not silent’.
Even if it changes nothing, even if they ignore us, they still hears us in the chamber, they KNEW that we were not happy. That we were not taking this lying down, and perhaps, parhaps they might in future remember that their people stand for tolerance, respect and the dignity of (wo)mankind, unimpeachable. It might change the minds of one or two, which might eventually swing a vote, have an impact on policy. We tried. We cannot control the outcome, we cannot force or bend people to our will, take direct action, but we will not stay quiet and we will not stay away.
More in part two, where I discuss both being on the receiving end of prejudice and my own attempts to combat it at about 0400 with no sleep. Stay tuned!