I Can’t Believe We’re Still Protesting this Shit, reads a banner at the 2016 Women’s March on Washington. This is what democracy looks like, the documentary tells us. But democracy in today’s America is in a sorry state. Thanks to Trump. This documentary has been structured around major Trump events or strategy announcements, mostly from the first year of his administration: voter fraud allegations, the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, curtailment of LGBT rights, the Muslim ban, the Mexican border wall.
To non-Americans the idea that ‘the L word’, liberal, is one to be feared and rejected does not really compute. Resisterhood is a documentary that shows how the early years of the presidency of ‘The Donald’ galvanised not just left-leaning liberals but a cohort of of right-thinking middle-class voters who form the talking heads here (most are women).
‘Those who don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat it’, goes the old saw. Margaret Morrison tells of her experiences helping black people to register to vote and campaigning for civil rights in the Selma-Montgomery march of 1965. She can’t believe that 55 years later she’s still protesting this shit. And there’s Dr Jean Gearon, whose grandmother was an early suffragist, and who can’t believe she’s still protesting this shit 100 years later.
The film intercuts these and other stories with (too many) protest marches and (too little) archive footage. There’s also not much analysis on the way Trumps taps into popular prejudice. But there are moments that are truly affecting. The speakers – there’s a mixed-heritage congressman and an Egyptian-American woman who has to remove her hijab when driving for fear of unwanted attention – are measured, determined and controlled, not angry ranters. Maybe there should be more anger. We see them educating their children on the lessons of the past that Trump has trampled.
These people hold strong in the face of violence, antagonism and graffiti like Make America White Again. Will their good-natured, sentimental ‘united we dream’ philosophy be enough in the face of the hateful onslaught of the Trumpocalypse and the 2020 election?
The message is: get out and vote, it’s the best way of protesting this shit.
Available On-demand Tue 22 Sep 2020