“Show me what democracy looks like, this is what democracy looks like!”
This is the chant of women bundled up in their January finest; many in pink wool hats as they walk along the streets of Washington DC. The pussyhats sit like cat ears on the smiling, waving and energetic demonstrators. Little girls and boys bear signs with progressive messages, as doting parents march by their side. The signs speak to immigration reform, LGBTQ rights and the environment, and other progressive causes. All on the march seem exuberant giving the feel of a joyous rally. The music and body language of marchers feels infectious. Our spirits are lifted.
We are in the world of RESISTERHOOD, the feature film debut of twelve time Emmy award winner Cheryl Jacobs “CJ” Crim. Her camera captures the initial years of this peaceful and historic female resistance that led to the groundbreaking, 2018, mid-term election putting a record number of women into the U.S. Congress.
RESISTERHOOD is organized chronologically, starting with Day 1 or the first day of Donald Trump’s presidency. We meet activists along the way—including profiles of six diverse peace movement leaders from the African-American, Latina, Muslim and LGBTQ+ communities. As the film’s promotional materials summarize—
“In Resisterhood, we meet …
Dr. Jean Gearon, Ph.D, (The Organizer), is the great-granddaughter of a suffragist who participated in the original women’s march in 1913. Jean’s political awakening begins the moment Trump is elected. The psychologist fights back by transforming her eight-member book club into the 400+ member Women’s Alliance for Democracy and Justice.
Margaret Morrison (The Marcher), is a seasoned activist who marched from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. Now 84-years-old, Margaret’s legs are weak but her determination to stand for justice is stronger than ever. She attends march after march, beginning with the Women’s March in a pink pussy hat and wearing a Black Lives Matter badge, inspiring everyone around her including her 12-year-old grand-nephew, Dallas.
Luis & Soraida Gutiérrez (The Insiders), a U.S. Congressman (Illinois-D) and his wife, fight for the rights of all Dreamers, immigrants and families separated at the border. It is Soraida who encourages her husband to join the Women’s March and the duo’s lifelong passion for equality ignites their daughter, Jessica Gutiérrez, to run for Chicago’s City Council.
Joanna Lohman (The Motivational Speaker) is a professional soccer player and self-proclaimed “Rainbow Warrior.” Following a season-ending injury, Joanna uses this setback as an opportunity to transform herself into a role model, activist and motivational speaker, standing up for gender equality and the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.
Mimi Hassanein(The Candidate), a woman of Egyptian heritage who becomes a victim of hate speech after the presidential election because she wears a hijab. She turns her fear into power as she runs for public office, with the support of her enormous family, including 15 grandchildren.”
RESISTERHOOD Contrasts Protests with Trump’s Washington
The story unfolds in a series of contrasts. For example, in one moment we are with former Congressman Luis Gutiérrez, his wife and daughter leading an assembly at the gymnasium of a local school who are fighting for the Dreamers. The diverse audience eagerly ask questions at microphones, cheering one another on. Again,we hear chants-- “this is what democracy looks like!” This image is then immediately contrasted with a tweet from Vice President Mike Pence including an image of the GOP women’s health caucus. Here, Pence is pictured at a long wooden table, surrounded only by White men, an image eerily reminiscent of Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper.
On Day 100 of Trump’s presidency, we are taken back to Washington DC, where tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered up their protest gear and joined in The People’s Climate March. Above the people’s heads,, penguins and blue and green globes bob and sway. Between them, children ride their parent’s shoulders and hold their own signs. The vibrant signs—most handmade— in so many hands, are enhanced by the many colorful shirts and hats adorning the protesters. Similarly, in a later protest, a sea of pink women lead to the Washington Monument.
The colorful march scenes end abruptly on day 615 of Trump’s term. We are brought to the rainy marble steps of the Hart Senate Office Building. Police surround the structure in black suits and yellow vests like bees guarding their hive. By their feet lay bouquets with roses and daisies, many with messages strung to the stems. Very soon we cut to protesters’ faces as they are arrested one by one; most are smiling as they’re led away in zip tie binding their hands behind their back. One elderly woman holds shaky hands in front of her, as police tighten the white plastic across her frail wrists. Mothers with babies wrapped to their chests rub their children’s heads. These are images of resistance as community events and unifying executions of democracy.
RESISTERHOOD discusses grassroots politics and political activism in an approachable and inspirational manner. This writer hopes all will see this film and join the resistance.
Resisterhood, available for streaming on Sept. 22, National Voter Registration Day.
Director and Producer: Cheryl Jacobs Crim
Producers: Michael HolsteinPippa McBride
Cast: Dr. Jean Gearon, Ph.D., Margaret Morrison, Luis & Soraida Gutiérrez, Joanna Lohman, Mimi Hassanein
For more information visit the RESISTERHOOD website.
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Images courtesy of RESISTERHOOD
About the Author: Camille Aguilar
Camille is a senior at the University of Chicago where she studies Literature and Philosophy. There, she is a reporter for the Maroon, as well as a photographer for the student run culinary magazine: Bite. Her activism extends largely towards youth education, and she is currently an organizing executive of MUNUC the Model United Nations conference put on by UChicago students for over 1,500 international high school students annually. After college, Camille plans to continue writing creatively and professionally as she pursues a career in international human rights reform.