Thursday, June 27, 2013

Don't Sit Down Yet

       Standing in the capitol Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, wearing orange and screaming my lungs out, might have been the single most electrifying moment of my life. I clapped my hands and stamped my feet as I and so many others chanted "THE PEOPLE. TOGETHER. WE'LL NEVER BE DEFEATED," long into the next day, "The whole world is watching," said the old hippie woman on the Capitol steps over and over again. "The whole world is watching."
        It really did feel that way, that night, like we were being watched by the entire world- thousands upon thousands of people viewed the livestream, and the comments section was (for the most part) a flood of support for Wendy Davis, and the protestors. #StandWithWendy was the number one trending tag on Twitter, with #txlege and #SB5 not far behind;my Facebook newsfeed was awash in pictures of Wendy Davis with captions like MY NEW HERO and PATRON SAINT OF REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS. I have seen countless articles discussing what the "people's filibuster"  means for the future of politics, critical analyses of how social media is changing civic activism, on-line petitions for investigation of the time-stamp change by Senate Republicans, all of them trumpeting how we won, how citizens banded together to fight oppressive legislation, that this is what true democracy is. As we exited the Capitol, my friend's mother, a Chinese immigrant, was practically dancing in her exultance.
       "Do you know what happens if I try to this in China?" she asked us. "They arrest me, they arrest my parents, they arrest my children. You girls, you remember this. Remember this for the rest of your lives."
       I will remember the thrill of the protests for the rest of my life. I will also remember how, the next day Governor Rick Perry called a special 30 day session, its agenda including "protecting the rights of the unborn," and how very few seemed to notice, assuming that either we had won, and the matter was settled, or we had lost, and there was nothing left to do. I will remember that basically, despite the overwhelming amount of national attention Senate Bill 5 received, and despite the polls which suggest the majority of Texans are opposed to this bill, in all probability, this bill is going to become law, and deprive Texas women and girls of control over their bodies.
       National attention has largely petered out and for many of the people who virtually stood with Wendy that night, or followed the happenings at the Capitol, this is an important subject, but the measures of SB5 will not directly impact their lives, and so the bill will gradually fade into memory.  I don't have the option of forgetting about this bill. I am a young, Texas woman, and it is at my peers and me that the bill will most directly strike. I am not so naive as to think that we can stop this bill from becoming law. But I refuse to go down without a fight.
        I am asking for the public to rekindle its fury, to keep #txlege and #SB5 trending on twitter, to keep tuning in to the livestream. If you live in Texas, please look up your senators and representatives and tell them how you feel and exactly how that's going to affect your actions in the next election. Familiarize yourself with the policies of the senators involved, and make your voice heard in every forum made available to you, send them emails, write them letters, use the electronic forms, call them, tweet at them. Go to the special session, wear orange and bring your signs, boo the senators who voted against us. Do not let public outrage wither away. While we can't stop this law, we can make it easier to alter or repeal, and we can make it so when the time comes around to elect our new House, Senate, and Governor, we will no longer by subjected to the whims of the same old, rich,white men. I am imploring people across the nation to keep their eyes on Texas, and I am begging the world to please not turn its back. 

   For those who missed or wish to revisit the filibuster and surrounding events, check out the Texas Observer's extraordinary events coverage.

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