Inauguration Day mixed the city’s emotions into a veritable soup of angst. Protesters dissenting the new president gathered at Daley Plaza and near Trump Tower before migrating to briefly shut down parts of Lake Shore Drive. But at an effervescent brown-owned café in Pilsen, performance artist Ricardo Gamboa’s live news show, F*ck Trump the Hoodoisie is Here, gave a standing-room-only crowd the opportunity to protest status quo politics in the nation as well as in the city.
Gamboa assembled a collective of “poetical” activists, including storyteller Lily Be, Barrel of Monkeys actor Steven Beaudion, community activist Jaime De Leon, and comedian-activist Tribble, to host an inspiring and motivating panel discussion based on Gamboa’s central premise: “We need social movements because [political] parties are ineffective.” Gamboa opened with a question—Trump is president; who do you blame?—and the protest, by way of information absorption, began.
The entertaining yet serious discussion tore the blindfold off the distractions that paved the way for the election’s outcome—distractions like white women who, in essence, forfeited their voice and/or vote to snap selfies in handmade pussy hats, and playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda, who lullabied the nation with Hamilton while expressing his desire to perform the play for political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera (once Rivera is released). The latter was a noble gesture at face value, though not necessarily so noble below the surface.
The panel yielded the floor to musical artist Mykele Deville who performed from his album Each One, Teach One, written with his nine-year-old niece in mind as a way to help her process the times in which we live. After Deville’s performance, twenty-six-year-old 35th Ward Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa got onto the stage to share his vision for the ward and for our city. In Ramirez-Rosa’s mind, Chicago would no longer be rubber-stamped by the mayor’s allegiance to his wealthy allies, and gentrification would be staved off, by not allowing developers to have free reign.
The protest of sorts culminated with Kristiana Rae Colón and her brother Damon Williams of the Let Us Breathe Collective and last summer’s Occupy Homan Square movement, which exemplified how genuine protest can serve a community in practical ways by providing food, clothing, and shelter while standing face-to-face with power and boldly speaking truth to it. As Williams said most eloquently, “If destruction is how we hold ourselves accountable, we are going to die.” That night, in that place full to capacity with people of every ethnicity, gender, age, sexual identity, and socioeconomic status, working to hold ourselves as a nation accountable, nothing was destroyed and nobody died.
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