As I stood in the sea of thousands of people, my usual crowd induced anxiety had no place to conjure up its evil head. When I woke up that morning, I had thought it was just going to be another day… work, mom duties and the like. No idea that my day would end with me standing feet away from the man who has become a champion for the people. There was no way I could pass up the chance to see the person that has exposed the corrupt political system for what it is. There was no way I could not see the one candidate that has fought for every single disenfranchised group throughout his entire life. There are times in your life when you have no choice but to throw all common sence aside, shirk all responsibilities and do something just for the sake of saying you did it. A week ago, my greatest idol died and I never got the chance to see him. It was with Prince’s passing that I told myself, never again. Never will I lose a chance to see someone I admire. Never again will I let life get in the way of living. It is too often I have seen opportunities pass me by because I thought there’d always be tomorrow.There was no way I would miss the chance to hear him speak, even if it meant standing in a storm, even if I only heard five minutes, I would not miss the chance on hearing the Bernie Sanders.
Well, actually I did almost miss it but luckily for me, my teenage daughter was breaking the rules at school by being on Instagram, let me know and reserved me a spot even before I could respond back to her. Please keep in mind that with the way the election is going, I have found myself stepping away from social media and the news, as a way of self-preservation, so I had no idea he was going to be in the state. For her I will always be thankful but I have my whole life to show her. It is moments like this that make me grateful for having such a strong support system. But back to the story at hand. Once I knew all my children were taken care of, the emergency fund change jar was cashed in, the directions printed, I was on the road… alone and with a purpose.
There are times in your life when you have no choice but to throw all common sence aside, shirk all responsibilities and do something just for the sake of saying you did it. It hasn’t been since I was a young adult that I was able to just get in my car and go. I had my first child when I was 20, so freedom of adventure has been lost on me for a long time. As I was driving down 37, listening to WTLC’s rush hour mix, I had flash backs of countless Saturday nights driving on that same road to go see UFO, Deiselboy, Traxx or whomever would play music until the sun came up. Yet, here I was 20 years later, listening to a house mix on the way to see THE Bernie Sanders. There is something oddly invigorating about driving through a stretch of highway that is flanked by towns known for racism, as you’re going to see a man who has spent his whole life fighting against oppression. Normally I find myself driving through KKK territory with fear and trepidation. This time though, it was different. I had never so badly wanted to be seen, in all my blackness, in all my gayness, in all my liberal socialistness. Stopping at every light with my window down, blasting my bass heavy music. I wanted them to know, if even for a second, that I was on my way to see Bernie and no longer scared of their history. If ever in life I had wished to have a rainbow flag flanked with a black power fist holding a red rose, it was on that drive.
Driving into Bloomington, I had started to get worried that I had missed it. There were so many people walking around like there wasn’t a Presidential candidate, that I was beginning to think maybe he wasn’t showing up. How could it be possible that not every single student on that campus wasn’t bumrushing the building? On the website they asked that no bags be brought inside for safety reasons. So every backpack I saw became a sign of discouragement. No, no matter what I saw I kept going. Seeing people with Bernie signs, leaving the venue, I kept going. Turning the corner and realizing there were thousands of people waiting in lines to get in, I kept going. All I kept imagining was that black and white picture of the crowd from the March on Washington. Thousands upon, thousands of people standing as far as the eye can see. The crowds around the reflection pool, that sea of people stretched all the way to the Washington Monument. That was nothing compared to the lines I saw with no end. This was the closest I’ll ever get to that moment, to that feeling of unity and rebellion. I’ve been to countless rallies and protests. I’ve heard a hundred speeches but this, this was my chance to hear from a man that’s been in the struggle since the beginning.
As an activist, I have been doing a lot of searching for how. How do I stop institutionalized racism? I’ve been trying to fathom why I still have to keep fighting for my reproductive rights. Often times feeling like I should pick just one cause to devote my attention to but as a biracial, bisexual, binational daughter of an immigrant… there is no cause that doesn’t affect me. I have read countless books. I have looked to my elders. I have looked to the next generation. Everywhere I looked I just got more confused and often times felt like not getting involved at all. Until Bernie came along. Through him I learned that it’s not about Civil Rights, it’s about Human Rights and no matter what the title or cause, If I believe in it, I should stand up for it. Bernie has taught me that you can be apart of a flawed system and still speak your voice. Bernie has been at the very March on Washington, standing with those that have passed that I have looked to for advise. He has lived it, he is living it. If any moment in my life I would look back on as pivotal, standing there on the IU campus would be one that would stick with me for life. So I kept going.
I had barely began my journey to the end of the line, when the crowd started running towards the building. In any other situation in my life I would have passed out, or quickly made it to the sides, or hell not have even let myself be in that situation. Seeing a mass group of people running towards me is a reoccurring nightmare, that ends in sheer terror as I’m being trampled to death. Yet, I knew that if I didn’t turn around and get to that building I’d lose my chance to not only hear but also see him. So I turned around and ran. I stood in a sea of people, waiting, chanting, wanting nothing more than to get a glimpse of the man that we all believe in. As he walked out of the building the crowd erupted. As he spoke tears flowed, hands shook, pictures and videos were taken and that we all got a glimpse of hope. We all got to feel like we could be apart of something beautiful. Hell, maybe not everyone felt that way but I did.
As he went inside the crowd somewhat dispersed. The rest of us watched the speech on the huge screen provided outside, as the rain clouds grew. Even as the rain started I couldn’t leave. I couldn’t miss a single word, scared I’d miss that line of inspiration. Realizing all along that it was being there that was the inspiration. Bernie Sanders is the ultimate activist. He has learned the ins and outs of a political system that has been flawed from its inception. He actually knows exactly what he is up against and has been standing up for what is right since day one. He stood with Dr. King Jr. and has gotten arrested and did so when no one was watching… because he knew it was the right thing to do. For me there is no other option but to stick by this man’s side until he decides to stop fighting… as a politician, our President, whatever capacity he choses.
A thunderstorm approached and we were asked to leave. They shut down the screen and turned off the sound. It was then that a street band began to play and I knew that I was exactly where I needed to be. It was then that I realized I didn’t have to pick a cause but just had to keep doing what I believe in. I believe in equal rights protection for all. I believe in a pathway to citizenship. I believe I should be able to get paid a decent living wage. I believe everyone should have access to healthcare. I believe that all humans should be treated fairly and those that are disadvantaged, should get help. I believe that if enough of us take a stand against the establishment, it will have to change or it’ll fall. And I believe in Bernie Sanders.