by Rosey Abuabara
Co-chair TX23 Indivisibles
I never thought I'd be doing what I'm doing. I never thought I'd be protesting, organizing, or doing interviews for the news. But here I am. Somehow, I found myself as a reluctant co-chair of something I had no idea what to do. I was the co-chair of TX23Indivisibles.
I went to my first protest against Rep. Will Hurd. I knew nothing about him, so I googled him up and found that he was a horrible representative. So, I made a sign out of a piece of cardboard I cut from a box. My first protest sign said "don't be afraid of us", thinking that my rep would eventually come around and meet with us. (He still hasn't, as of this writing). The people organizing said they were going to protest everyday for 4 days. I went all four days. I learned that elected officials can say whatever they want, yet vote another way. That's why I am working to flip our congressional district from red to blue, and hold them accountable.
I've met many people like me who felt the need to get involved and stay involved in our communities. People who are first time activists like me. We started sharing our experiences. We discovered that our common goal to want to make change was deep, and it united us.
On the occasion of Texas Governor Greg Abbott's announcement for reelection, we decided to attend it wearing our Indivisible shirts. We had no plan to disrupt things. We just wanted to hear what he had to say. We never suspected anything would happen. As a group, we decided we needed some people to protest outside, and some of us to go inside. As it turned out, the atmosphere was crazy inside. People were loudly chanting "keep Texas red". For myself, I didn't engage with anyone. I ignored any comments made to me. I decide it was so crazy in there that I started recording using Facebook live. Suddenly I saw one of the women I rode with being shoved by police out the door, arms behind her back. Then another friend was whipped around and pushed out of the building, arms behind their backs. This was happening all around me. Eventually, they came to me and told me to leave or get arrested. I asked why I was being asked to leave, since I was quietly standing there recording. They said I was a "possible agitator". I guess they didn't like my t-shirt. Ultimately, I relented and left. I walked out to the protesters outside, only to find them frantically trying to find the husbands of my women friends arrested. We were all in disbelief and shock. It was like a Trump rally. We innocently went to make a statement, and 3 in our group got detained, with their hands zip tied behind their backs, and a paddy wagon parked close by.
Slowly the 3 women came out. They were told that the Governor decided not to press charges.
We were so traumatized that we went for margaritas afterward to talk about what had just happened to us.
If we had been bonding before that, after that, we bonded completely. It only served to strengthen our resolve to continue fighting, even if we got arrested.
No one ever told me that activism was so much fun. Being around so many like minded women made it easy for conversation to flow. We have shared our life experiences with each other, our beliefs that everyone should be equal under the law. We've discussed how we can no longer go back to our old lives of listening to the news and wishing things would be better. We had to be part of the solution. Things are critical. Everyday we get hit several times with unbelievable news of our elected officials, not just nationally, but locally. We have learned that local politics affect our lives more than national politics. So, many of us have become involved with local politics to ensure that our voices are heard. We are encouraged to join boards, to run for office, to take a seat at the table. For myself, I became a precinct chair.
Although there are some men in this movement, on the whole, there are mostly women. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because so many laws are being made against us. There are so many freedoms we took for granted that are being stripped away. I know that women before me fought for rights I take advantage of. The right to vote comes to mind. It's now my turn to fight for our future generations. Never let it be said that we stood around and let it happen. We fought like hell. In this age of social media, everything is being documented.
I know that what motivates me is making change for my kids. Other kids will benefit because I spoke up and stood strong.
I have met wonderful people along the way. I have heard stories of homelessness and hopelessness, stories that break your heart, stories that make you want to make the world a better place. Stories that make you wake up everyday and get out of bed and make a difference. And that's what I strive to do. Make a difference, even if it's a small difference. I can live with myself knowing I did my part. I sleep well at night now. Bad news keeps coming, but it only serves to motivate me to continue fighting, because we are literally fighting for our lives.