Guest blog from Bitty
Why Does My Voice Matter?
It’s a question even I have. The last few years have brought forth many opportunities for people to step outside their comfort zones, to stand up and speak out about the wrongs that are happening in our own neighborhoods. We always see crowds protesting and standing up for issues that the Right often attack, but we rarely see the people on the sidelines. People who show up, but aren’t sure where they fit into that protest. They know it must be important if hundreds or thousands or millions show up, so what keeps them sidelined?
It’s not just a cheesy saying, every single voice matters no matter how small you think yours is. I’ve taken part in many protests and demonstrations, I used to find myself questioning if I was the right person to be protesting certain issues. It took me sometime to realize within my discomfort is an anger that drives me to be a part of the change. After all, I’m human, it’s my right to stand up and defend our rights. Even if I’m not who the Right is attacking in that moment, I’m not going to be a part of any change if I’m comfortable in what’s happening around me.
In all of the protests I’ve been a part of, I never thought my discomfort that would come from a sports angle. But alas, here we are. We have a league (MLS for those who don’t know yet) that seems to be confused on what’s political and what’s a human right. Unfortunately, it’s common these days when the media and leader of our country are empowering alt-right movements and creating a problem our generation didn’t wager they’d see. We learned about the extreme right, fascism and Nazi’s in history classes, but to see what’s happening now is something at least I didn’t see coming. Some may say, but this is sports, it shouldn’t be political. Too bad, it already is. From the national anthem used as a recruiting method, the camo kits and merch sold by FO’s, to the American flag. It’s all political from the time game day starts. However, in a system of balances, for every bad there should be a good. This is where we bring up the Iron Front, a symbol used and designed in the 30’s to be able to cover swastikas, it’s a symbol of the resistance of Nazism. It’s a symbol use to stand against fascism. It’s a symbol of human rights, therefore it isn’t political.
Don’t let the Front Office or leagues definition of Antifa scare you or deter you from speaking up for human rights. If you’re against fascism, you’re Antifa. There’s no middle ground. Attacking Antifa and the Iron Front is supporting Fascism and aides the rising of white supremacy under this administration.
So as a supporter of soccer, watching this all unfold has found a lot of people wondering what they can do to ensure human rights are stood up for and hate has no place in our stands. You’re also probably wondering as an NWSL supporter, why does any of this matter to you. It matters because Portland’s Front Office has decided this horrendous code of conduct should span all 3 leagues that Providence Park hosts. Their reasoning, the employees don’t know the difference between teams/leagues. So aside from being a human rights issue that one leagues supporters find themselves fighting for, in Providence Park it expanded to a stadium issue.
Standing up to anyone is hard, especially a Front Office. However, a line has to be drawn. First they come for the Iron Front, what will they come for next? The pride flag? The trans flag? So here is your chance to take a stand. If you’ve found yourself on the outside looking in, know you’re not alone. I often say “I’m new here” because I’m still highly unsure of where I fit in. But we’re all human, and our standing up for human rights put us right in the middle of this. Protesting has been a way to fight power for, well forever. Like any business they depend on consumer money, taking a stand can be as simple as not spending money in the stadium or on merch. Speaking out can be as simple as making your own two stick about standing up for human rights and against fascism. Reach out to those around you, work with each other, don’t be afraid to ask for help or clarification. Change starts within all of us, all of our voices matter.