Republic. Rebellion. Resistance. Star Wars was always political. So is reality.
Raised to Rebel
I’ve lived my entire life in a left wing bubble. I grew up on the campus of a notoriously liberal elite university. My parents were activists, especially my mother. The first presidential campaign I remember hearing about was for Jesse Jackson. I have childhood memories of protests and petitions. Of canvassing for the mayor and falling asleep under the cake table on election night. My father the existentialist devoted his career to the arts and culture of a tiny Muslim nation on the other side of the world. And my mother the hippy stood up for children, the elderly, the sick and impoverished, and trees.
I design and hand out political pins at fandom conventions. Mainly to the general public but they’ve gotten onto the shirts of Bryan Fuller and Wilson Cruz. I’ve voted in every election since I turned eighteen, from presidential to local. I brought my daughters to rallies against gun violence and for gay marriage. We participated in the Women’s March and the March for Science. I protested Trump’s travel ban at the airport.
And I went to my state’s first ever Pride Parade, held in my hometown, where I grew up and where I still live. We’re a tiny city in a tiny state close enough to bigger cities and bigger states that we’d never had one until last year. It was still a tiny city in a tiny state but the celebration was big and loud and jubilant. I wore my heart shaped sunglasses, sat on the curb and sent pictures of the parade to my daughters. They were away for the weekend and I didn’t want them to miss it.
Built on Hope
I’ve never been arrested. I’ve never been tear gassed or feared for my life. My activism has been a party, not a riot. The students at the notoriously liberal elite university I still live and work at are politically active. But nine out of ten of their protests are sanctioned, and regulated, by the college and the community. Bree Newsome (Bree Newsome!) gave a keynote address for the campus celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday this past January. Staff were encouraged to attend, we didn’t have to use our lunch hour or personal time. Rebellion is supported in my bubble. It’s safe. And it can feel toothless.
I felt useless watching the increasingly destructive protests erupt across the country this week. I wanted to do something. But what? How? Where? There are no conventions for my pins and no local protests. There’s still a pandemic, I can’t zoom off to NYC or Boston or DC even if it was affordable or feasible. I can and did add my name to a hundred online petitions but I can’t afford to donate. I can and did join a virtual meeting of my local Working Families Party but we’re just 20 voices in a tiny already very blue state. I can and did share posts and tweets but I don’t have a huge online platform. Working from home I interact with very few people, mainly through email, and so far none of this has come up. And if it did, if it does, we all live and work in the same bubble.
So I watch. My inability to participate doesn’t matter. Black lives matter. For now my role is observer so I observe. And I say as loudly as I can that I support the protesters, not the police. I support the rebellion, not the republic. It is clear to me now that the republic no longer functions. It’s been clear my whole life.