On July 9th, thousands of women, female-identifying people and male allies gathered in Washington, D.C. to hold space and be heard. We gathered to voice and direct our rage at the seat of our government, the one building we were told was the sacred seat of power our entire lives. The very House that has failed to protect the women, the marginalized, the poor and the suffering of this land year after year. The very House that we were brought up to believe was the apex of power in this world. The very House that we look to when the dark forces of the world turn on our citizens and threaten our liberty. The very House, that for many years now, has failed to keep us safe, failed to keep us supported and failed to recognize our right to exist.
On this day of rage, thousands stood in front of that very House and screamed into the void. With a very clear and cohesive plan to be ungovernable, to be outraged, to act collectively through civil disobedience-- a plan to not go quietly into that dark night.
I went to DC to document. To bear witness. To hold space. I was trained as a journalist to never be an activist and participating in protests still makes me uncomfortable. Even though I agree, with every fiber in my being, with those who choose to scream into that void, I often go to protests to simply document. It’s a strange position to stand within, to not be neutral, but to still maintain enough emotional distance to document the entirety of what is unfolding before me.
And last weekend was no different, except for the urgency of this situation and the understanding that my human rights being removed is not the stopping point of my government. It is the starting point. The plan to unravel the democracy I was told my entire life was the bedrock of the free world and the pinnacle of civilized, modern society is in full motion and it will not end until everything we hold dear is burned to the ground by a minority of fundamental Christian, white nationalists who drape themselves in the flag I hold dear and stand upon an ancient doctrine they wish to violently impose through the barrel of a gun onto all of us.
I attend a Buddhist-inspired secular university that focuses on a contemplative approach to education and has entire divisions dedicated to conflict resolution, collective action and inclusivity. I spend my days working within those curriculums and many of my classmates are members of GenZ. A generation who grew up at the end of a gun and who are the direct recipients of the trauma put in place by the Baby Boomers in the 1980s. Granted, we GenXrs and early Millennials lived through the implementation of the Baby Boomer’s massive power grab and wealth hording, but GenZ actually lived through the result of those strategies without ever knowing a “before” time.
Where GenX has no fucks left to give because we’ve spent our entire adult lives dodging the landmines that the Boomers set in motion, GenZ is leaning into the “Fuck around and find out” mentality. And they’re not wrong.
GenZ knows their trauma deeply and express it freely. GenZ understands the power of the collective and has a profound understanding of empathy. They understand that one voice doesn’t have the strength of the collective-- and they plan accordingly. This generation has the skillsets, the technological tools and the emotional awareness to scream into the void with more strength and clarity than we ever did.
GenZ has a very different viewpoint on their future. They understand that any future that is livable is up to them to try and create. They are not having children, buying homes or working in corporate frameworks to pay for health care and car loans. How could they? Such societal vehicles are not available to them. To make a path in this world, GenZ had to take on massive student loans, may never have enough to buy a home and by the time they might possibly have an opportunity to do any of those things, the world around them will be almost unlivable.
GenZ knows this. And their rage reflects such an awareness. Their rage also contains the absolute despair and outrage at not having an opportunity to sit at the table of adulthood with any semblance of stability or opportunity.
What I witnessed and documented in DC is just the beginning. I’ve documented protests for decades, of all size and scale. I’ve documented protests in Palestine where IDF soldiers played target practice with rubber bullets and protesters. I’ve documented protests where people from all over the country gathered in DC to voice their rage against family separation during an administration that was the catalyst to our fall into autocracy. The Women’s March in DC last week was different.
I saw what organized collective action and the tools of civil disobedience and conflict resolution look like in action, in the hands of a generation that will not silently slide into authoritarian rule with the rest of us. I watched as the march organizers delivered their civil disobedience workshop and explained in detail to thousands of participants, the plan for holding space in front of the White House and what arrest would look like and how they would follow every protestor who entered the legal system and ensure they were released with their bail paid in full and with their community supporting them.
In that moment, I realized I was witnessing years of generational knowledge of dissent and protest passed down in a deliberate way to the emerging generation. In that moment, I saw what collective action looks like in the hands of the “fuck around and find out” generation. I could see with perfect clarity how this generation took that generational knowledge of dissent and used technology to unify and amplify their voices-- at scale. In that moment I saw a glimmer of hope in a hopeless situation.
In that moment, I realized that my role in all of this is to bear witness, hold space and amplify the tools of collective action for the GenZs. Our role as GenX’rs and Millennials is to wrestle the reins of power from the Baby Boomers who have abused that power and now refuse to hand us the keys. Once we manage to take those keys away from the Democratic leadership who is too old and far too institutionalized to understand what’s actually happening to the people they represent, we must then give GenZ a direct role in the governance and rebuilding of our world.
And yes, I do believe the destruction will happen and we will have to rebuild. I wish this wasn’t the case, and a tiny little seed of optimism still exists that I’m simply wrong and I can just use the actual indicators of our demise into authoritarianism as a great fiction plot one day. But the indicators of the collapse of our democracy are clear and coherent for anyone to see if they’re willing to look. Such indicators are no longer hidden and those of us who’ve been warning others of what’s to come are now being proven right-- with zero gratification in being correct.
So we must all now become aware of what the GenZs in our lives are going through, how they are expressing their rage and simply support their ability to take collective action. That’s it. That’s the whole thing.
Do not underestimate the power of youthful outrage coupled with the energy of those who have been protesting and screaming into the void for decades. Do not underestimate what a generation who has no ability to access a livable future will do to make their voices heard and fight for some sort of livable tomorrow.
The political leadership in this country has utterly failed this generation. The Baby Boomers in the Democratic leadership have chosen their “legacies,” their bank accounts and their own positions of power over the very futures of an entire generation and over the present of the generation that they birthed into this world. The leadership clearly has no desire to save us from the autocracy barreling down the doors and they absolutely will not take action until its too late. At this point, the Democratic leadership is simply enabling autocracy, willingly or not.
When the history books look back at this period, assuming history books are even possible in a hundred years, they will look at the Pelosis, the Schumers, the Bidens and the Feinsteins and point to how they failed to do their jobs and failed to stop America from falling into the hands of dictatorships who destroyed our Great Experiment that was called Democracy.
I don’t have a solution here, I don’t even have next steps. I have images of rage, action and dissent. I am cultivating a skillset to stay deeply present in the face of societal collapse and violent insurrection so I can help my community navigate what the leadership in my country are allowing to happen. I am bearing witness to the rage, photographing the dissent and empowering the next generation through teaching technology as a tool for regeneration.
I am here to document the Unraveling and hopefully participate in the conversation of regeneration, if we collectively have the opportunity to regenerate at all.
I’ll be publishing a full photo essay shortly and will add the link here once it is live. Here are more images from the day.
If you’d like to support my work and ongoing documentation of protests and the Unraveling of our country, please collect this essay, share this work or collect NFTs from the Unravel NFT Collection on Foundation | $UNRAVEL | I’ll be minting new images from this protest and future events as well and will be choosing DAOs who support women to split proceeds with through the $UNRAVEL smart contract.