Mariposas and Picket Signs

by Emily Almendarez

Last Thursday night, the New Haven Green reasserted itself as a home for displaced individuals facing rough times in their lives. With its bald patches of grass, the New Haven Green stood in stark contrast to Yale’s lavish buildings just across the street. Led by their desire to defy the hegemonic ideologies circulating both this past year and on election night, people clustered on the green in a swath of melanin swatches. Cries of pain erupted from Muslim, LGBTQ+, and immigrant communities alike in response to the bigotry of the silent majority that coursed through the electoral office.

Rhythmic thumping and beating reflected the pitter patter of adrenaline filled hearts that resounded throughout the streets in front of 141 Church street. With children carried on parent’s shoulders, college students clasping hands with one another, and fists of many shades raised towards the infinite sky, the crowd blocked traffic in the adjacent streets. Honks of support interwove with chants and flashes of phones and cameras. “No Trump. No KKK. No more racist U.S.A,” blended in with “Black lives matter.” The diverse representation of individuals and groups fighting their disenfranchisement and oppression by the hands of the white establishment echoed throughout the streets. “Say it loud. Say it clear. _______ are welcome here,” evoked waves of “women,” “immigrants,” “muslims,” “POCs,” and “refugees” from the mouths of the parading body.

The little boy you babysit every Sunday night was there, hugging his mom who brushed her curls out of her face, and chanted so loudly that her pain was pronounced by the veins in her neck. The Guatemalan immigrants from Unidad Latina en Accion held up a painting of a protesting Virgen de Guadalupe. They exalted their choice to ignore and reject their fear in sacrifice to the brimming movement.

As they reconvened in front of the New Haven Federal court, it became evident that every individual present represented not only themselves and their disappointment at the result of the election, but their families and communities. The historically discriminated and their allies stood together in solidarity, as Herman Zuniga, a community activist, climbed a makeshift platform and challenged institutions that erased critical minority narratives saying “…they are trying to erase our history… erase our actions… but we gonna fight!” Her statement stood in opposition to the depiction of minority groups as dispensable and submissive.

Rachel Turesek, a New Haven resident, reminded the crowd of the need to unify during hard times saying “After World War II, Americans asked how the Germans had let it happen. Hate is how. They want poor whites to hate Latinos. They want Blacks to hate Gays. Enough! We need to stay united!”

Threats from the New Haven police questioned if they had a “permit” to congregate. In response, the people, our people, chanted the fact that the streets are “our streets,” the city is “our city,” and the country is “our country.” Love emanated from rows of people of all ages, gender, sexuality, and religion.

I write this now: These protests and demonstrations are not only against Donald Trump, but the overarching ideas concerning discrimination that have always attacked minority groups, even before hate had a poster person.

Much like other individuals that intermingle their agenda with hate, Donald Trump claims to dislike divisions. However, the hate that he has propagated is meant to divide. Tension tends to break down solidarity within communities allowing dominant systems of power to remain intact.

To those who have felt and continue to feel pain from the results of the election, to those
who have family members that are dealing with their uncertain permanence in this country, to
those who are disgusted with the flagrant and blatant hate and disregard presented, remember
one thing:

“The people united, will never be divided. The people united, will never be defeated.
La Gente Unida Jamás Será Vencida.​”

While it may not rid you of all your fears and certainly not cure our nation of colonial
repercussions/ideologies and instilled xenophobia overnight, it is certainly a place to start.

The community is here. They are here to fight. They are here to have their voices heard. They are here to love. They are here to stay.