Power, Protest, and Fashion

BLACK LIVES MATTER. Period.

It's 2 weeks in George Floyd's America, and it's clear the perspectives, protests, and voices of black and brown Americans and their allies cannot be contained. We are a movement, this is not a moment.

Yet, earlier this month, in the heart of the chaos, Trump gave an order to use tear gas outside the White House against a group of individuals peacefully protesting the systematic racism that has tainted our country for decades while spreading the Black Lives Matter movement. Tear gas was also used at protests that took place in Brooklyn, NY. Tear gas is a dangerous chemical weapon that can cause eye pain, chest tightness, coughing, vomiting, and increased nasal secretions, among other painful and uncomfortable symptoms. This type of warfare was used in the trenches of WWI, tear gas was outlawed in war-time combat in 1993. However, law enforcement can still use it during times of civil unrest -- how does that work?

We have been screaming Black Lives Matter since 2013 and the upset won't stop now. It's clear demonstrations will not stop and I for one and am here for it all. But when taking a stand, it's only right to be safe in every way, and that means in fashion too!

Here's a What to Wear and What to Bring Protesting Style Guide:

1. MASKS + GLOVES:

Covid is still here and still real, people. Not only will keeping your mask on help with the spread but also can protect your face from anything unwanted messes in the air during a protest.

2. LAYER UP:

You should wear nondescript clothing in solid colors, preferably in layers, too, in case one layer is exposed to chemicals. Resources suggest packing a fresh pair of clothes and storing it in a plastic bag for similar purposes. According to Popular Science, when it comes to clothing, the less skin showing and the denser the fabric, the better equipped you are if the police end up utilizing tear gas during a protest. Given that tear gas adheres to moisture on the skin, the more covered you are with fabric, the less surface area there is for the gas to stick to, so wear long pants and long-sleeves if you can.

3. STAY COMFORTABLE:

Protesters should also wear comfortable shoes that will both protect your feet from chemical exposure and are easy to run in, if necessary, as well as shatter-proof eye protection like sunglasses, swim goggles, or gas masks. In addition, wear a hat that will provide protection from both the sun and chemical weapons.

4. LEAVE THE PURSE AT HOME:

If you’re bringing a bag, the best option is one that’s see-through — similar to one you would bring to a sporting event — and worn on your back like a backpack or a drawstring bag. It should be comfortable to carry and lightweight.

OTHER ITEMS TO BRING...

Hydration is key, especially if you plan to protest for a long period of time and in direct sunlight. Bring extra water with you, preferably in a squirt bottle. Also, pack healthy and energizing food like an energy bar or fruit.

Other items to pack according to Amnesty International are a wristwatch, one to two days worth of prescription medications, extra cash, hand sanitizer, and menstrual pads for women — if you’re arrested, you might not be allowed to or be given the chance to change your tampon.

Lastly, again, don’t forget a form of ID and emergency contact information.

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