30 or 40 people showed up to this rally held in Columbia, SC on December 5th. I expected a huge crowd blocking the street and causing a disruption to traffic. I hoped for a loud boom of voices chanting for Senator Tim Scott to support the Dream Act.
That wasn’t the case. There wasn’t this big crowd or loud voices. It was me and dozens of others with their poster boards. Some marked “Here to stay” and others “Support the Clean Dream Act.”
I was hesitant to join the group. I couldn’t hide behind someone. I couldn’t blend in and assimilate as much as I wanted.
Nervous, I approached the crowd filled advocates of all ages. I began to shake my board across my chest. Timidly.
As I stood on the corner, in front of the bank of America building, I realized something. My shame stemmed from what I thought a protest/rally should look like instead of what it meant.
I know what thousands of protesters look like. Thanks to the Black Lives Matter Movement and Women’s March.
I wanted to be part of that. To be suffocated with bodies, energy, and rants by people who supported what I believed in.
That is not what I was experiencing. But then I realized that I was judging the size of the rally unfairly. I was viewing the rally based on quantitative measures. The numbers didn’t matter because if one person can make a difference, why can’t 30 or 40? And if thousands can march on Washington, why can’t 30 or 40 local residents march on the lawn of Senator Scott’s office?
I grew more and more comfortable. I had to face my own insecurities, misconceptions, and biases. I was forced to let go of my internal issues because young people are facing a dramatic change in their lives. These children were nearing the edge of a cliff. They were going to be booted from the only home that they know.
How selfish of me? I was thinking about my self and how uncomfortable I felt standing on a street corner for an hour and a half. That’s not a lifetime. It’s a moment of my day spent advocating for young people whose lives are going to change permanently.
Disruption has no particular way it should be done. You show up and show out. No matter how many people.
We stood there. We chanted. We marched around the intersection (yes, abiding by traffic and pedestrian laws). More people joined us. Drivers honked their horns in support of our efforts to:
- Push Congress to pass the Clean Dream Act
- Prevent 800,000 young people from losing status
- Discuss and Improve our Immigration System
I asked for this. The opportunity to get more involved in my community. To be the Social Do-Gooder who writes this blog. That’s what I got.
Often times, we think doing good entails this extravagant effort. Whether it’s building a home for a family, or raising millions of dollars for a charity or cause. In fact, doing good can be a simple act. Like standing on a corner with a sign to raise awareness about the impending end of DACA.
It’s just one decision. One action that is required. If you’re in, then do IT wholeheartedly. IT can be a difference in one person’s life. My simple act is an ongoing battle for 800,000 people. I can’t lose sight of that.
Let’s get comfortable with the uncomfortable. And measure success on what’s accomplished and not on who and how many people decide to join the cause.
Message to myself.
What are some actions you’re taking in your community? Share with us!