On January 20, 2017 (Inauguration Day), from 10AM – 12PM, we are hoping to form the first (ever) human chain across the entire Golden Gate Bridge (and beyond), as a collaborative, grassroots, community-based demonstration and performance art piece. We will stand together in unity and love in the face of divisiveness and hate. Our goal is to be a shining beacon of inclusiveness and democracy to prove that we are stronger together, that love trumps hate, and that the hateful rhetoric of the in-coming president & his administration will not be tolerated..We will stand together, hand-in-hand and holding lengths of purple fabric as a sign of unity and anti-bullying. Bring a yard of purple fabric, ribbon, or scarf. We are not blocking traffic. We have been granted an Expressive Activity Permit for this.
We Need Some Good
Some have asked why we’re doing this. “It won’t make a real difference,” and “Why won’t you protest instead?” continue to fill our inboxes. At the risk of sounding preachy, this is my take on it; hopefully it provides some clarification.
One thing I’m trying really hard to work on is this concept of “othering”. It was one of the biggest lessons I walked away with from college. It’s the blame game, it’s excuses, it’s the elimination of one’s own responsibility. Here’s an example to put it in perspective: As a white person, when I’ve said something problematic, my POC friends call me out on it. My immediate, knee-jerk reaction is to assure everyone I’m not racist. “Whoa, I’m not one of those white people.” Instead of looking at how I contribute to and benefit from the astronomical problems racism causes, I distance myself from the skinheads, the KKK, “the ignorant.” While those groups are problems in and of themselves, it’s everyday citizens that have a real opportunity to either affect change in our values as a society or perpetuate harmful rhetoric. Rather than dismiss my behavior, I should address it and uncover reasons behind my own socialized, trained racism. From there, I can figure out how to change my actions to ones that are productive. By recognizing my privilege, I can use my privileged standpoint to lobby for those who don’t have as much or any at all.
I’ve noticed that as a society, we do this in our political systems. These days it doesn’t seem to matter what political party we belong to as long as it’s not the other one, the bad one. ‘We’re better than those other guys.’ How is this productive?
Divide and rule is a very real strategy used by people in power positions. By turning people on each other, they are no longer focused on the problem—the leadership. They turn the focus to our differences, our religious backgrounds, the color of our skin, what jobs we have, which gender we are. When we other ourselves and those with opposing views, we’re feeding into the strategy of divide and rule. We are becoming easier to rule over.
Rather than turn on each other, we’ve decided to embrace each other. Despite our differences, we choose to stand together, we choose to love each other, we choose to be open to our different perspectives. It’s with this mindset that Bridge Together was borne. The Golden Gate was a natural choice for togetherness.
There is deep symbolism we’ve come to associate with the Golden Gate. The bridge itself unites two land masses inaccessible to one another by nature. Defying nature, it’s construction hosted bravery and fear, immigrants of multiple nationalities, miracles and catastrophes. Humankind created something beautiful, an American icon that connects people, both physically and symbolically. Living in hostile conditions, it’s faced earthquakes, fog, cold, tides, wind, and weight. It’s home to both births and deaths. Despite so much against it, it stands tall and strong. It is unity personified.
Furthermore, some have equated it to the Western version of The Statue of Liberty, a gateway welcoming immigrants—these “others”—to America. Immigrants—especially Chinese workers—contributed to the Western economy through the establishing of Chinatown, the construction of the Pacific Railroad, and even the building of the Golden Gate Bridge itself; San Francisco understands the true value of its immigrant population. Culture and diversity are reflected in San Francisco’s status as a sanctuary city and the many immigrant-friendly programs it offers.
What I’m trying to say is that it doesn’t matter which side you’re on—there’s space between for all of us to come together. We all tend to have similar drives anyways: we want to feel respected, we want to feel like our opinions matter, and we want to be loved. We can choose to fulfill each of those if we quieted down and started to listen to one another. Each of us holds an invaluable learning opportunity for one another.
I’m so grateful to have had a mom who has always taught me that the only thing we have control over in our lives is our reactions to what is thrown our way. Sometimes people are mean, sometimes life isn’t fair, and sometimes—even when you think you’re right—not everyone will agree with you. Sometimes the only thing we have control over is our reactions—and often how we react is what has the biggest impact on others. It’s not always easy, but each of us has the power to take the crap and smile back, or to not react at all. (Thanks, mom—also, hi, mom!)
Sure, maybe holding hands on a bridge won’t end systematic inequality in our country, but it’s sets precedent to how we wish to see the world. Each of us alone has a role, but all of us together is what truly embodies the essence of who we are. That’s what makes it art—we strive to engage with emotion, with reaction, with each other.
There’s a whole range of emotions that have been unearthed by the election. Perhaps you’re inspired, maybe you’re afraid, maybe you’re hopeful, angry, depressed, confused. There isn’t a correct way to feel, and it’s okay that we all have different experiences that have led us to these feelings. For me, my emotions have caused me to feel powerless. Rather than do nothing, rather than spew hate, rather than hide, I’m choosing to meet at the Golden Gate. I’m hoping to make new friends; I’m hoping to utilize new relationships so that I may better see the good in our world.
I choose to need the good.