OPINION: It’s time to get involved in America’s social issues

original artwork by Gabby Estrada

ABOVE: An original political cartoon created by Gabby Estrada entitled, “Not the same, Mr. President.”

On November 19, 2016, following the presidential election, Heather Heyer posted on Facebook, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention”.

On August 12th, 2017, Heyer was killed protesting a white supremacy rally in Charlottesville, Virginia by a Nazi sympathizer.

Enraged by the amount of white supremacists rallying in Charlottesville, Virginia against the removal of confederate General Robert E. Lee’s statue, Heyer and many others (including students from the University of Virginia) began to counter-protest against the white nationalists.

Needless to say, the rally got out of hand. Heyer’s death was without a doubt tragic and should not have happened. However, Heyer’s message was pushed more than ever before after her death. She’s right. If you’re not outraged by the inhumanity of the Neo-nazis, the abuse of freedom of speech by hate groups, the fact that the president of the United States said both sides were to blame, or the fact that a 32 year-old was killed for standing up for what she believed in, then you’re not paying attention.

I understand that for many people it’s hard. It’s hard going on with your life and worrying about your own problems, and then coming to the realization that this is happening in America. You suddenly feel guilty about being dissatisfied with your grades in school when there are minorities out there fighting for their rights. But I guarantee you, that guilt is nothing compared to what they’re feeling.

I’m not trying to minimize your troubles, but rather encourage you to take a stand, because it may not affect you personally, but it could affect your friend, neighbor, peer, or community.

I also understand that for many people, physically protesting isn’t an option; whether it be because of social anxiety, lack of parent consent, or lack of rallies in your area. What happened with Heyer created both fear for those protesting as well as fueled their passion for equality, leading them to protest even more.

Personally, I am an extremely passive person and try my best to avoid confrontation. I do not think I would be emotionally capable of being in that environment. So for those who are on the front lines protesting, I applaud you. Not that you need the validation, but you are out there doing what a lot of us cannot do.

For those of you who are interested in attending a rally in your area, exercise your right to assemble. You don’t have to be an activist or a minority to make your country a better place. Don’t let the sad excuse of the man sitting in the oval office keep you from fighting for that oval office, protecting everything it should stand for.

Just because Donald Trump promotes hate, doesn’t mean we have to. Heyer wasn’t an activist. As The Economist describes her, “[Heyer] didn’t march with Black Lives Matter, either, or wave LGBTQ flags, though she supported them all. Her way was to stand up loudly for them. But the sheer size of the white nationalist rally planned for August 12th made her feel, for the first time ever, that she really had to get out in the street. Suddenly, she had to do more than just argue. More than just cry.”

If you’re interested in protesting, these are websites helpful for searching for different rallies:

https://www.resistandprotest.com/keep-it-going

https://resistancenearme.org/

https://www.dailygrabback.com/demonstrations/

This website lets you know who your elected officials are and how to contact them to make your voice heard:

https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials

Simply staying informed also goes a long way. This website gives you information on current issues and more insight on bills: https://www.countable.us/