Photography by Aaron Wojack
Since the inauguration of Donald Trump, photographer Aaron Wojack has been documenting California's budding resistance. Based in San Francisco, Wojack was inspired by the commitment of his fellow Bay Area residents who gathered to organize and protest, rain or shine, day or night.
Like a lot of people across the U.S., Wojack explained to The FADER that he began going to protests after being frustrated with the election results. He wants his photos to be used as a tool for visibility and sympathy, as well as a historical document in their own right.
"I decided to make photos that focus on the individuals that are out there fighting," he said. "I'm trying to emphasize the diversity of Northern California and also make a document that I hope will be interesting in the future. It's my thinking that people who are mad or scared of various groups don't have much direct or personal interaction with people of these groups and I would like to think that looking at individuals can help. But most importantly, I want these images to inspire other people to get out there and continue to fight and continue to persuade people to be compassionate."
Below are a selection of people that Wojack met at protests this year. He asked them a question: What are you here to resist and what are here to protect?
NoBanNoWall, San Francisco City Hall
Shannon: As a queer person of color who has always been marginalized, I think it is important to stand up and give a face and voice to folks who are being discriminated in similar ways. I think representation is a huge factor, which influences folks to stand up for what is right and to think outside of the norms that have been put upon us as people living in the land of opportunity, free will, dreams.
Dirgni: I'm protecting values such as honesty, integrity, empathy, and kindness.
Not My President's Day, Justin Herman Plaza, San Francisco
Larsen: I am resisting hate and fear.
I am protecting American values.
Anonymous: I'm resisting the legitimacy of this presidency and administration. I'm resisting everything that has happened since his inauguration to potentially destroy this democracy.
[I'm] protecting the right to come out here and speak and protest and the right for others to be here and have a safe place. This country has been that for many people but not for all people.
Hayley: I'm resisting a fascist government in the United States. I think that Donald Trump shows too close ties to Russia and Putin's regime. I think that as Americans we have to stand up and say we do not want foreign governments, especially our adversaries to be controlling or trying to control our elections.
I'm protecting civil liberties, the right of the normal American to protest and to say this isn't right. When you have the President and the President's chief of staff telling people, the media, to just shut up... it's scary. It's scary to have the executive branch telling normal people not to speak their minds and it makes me want to speak my mind even more.
Ben: I'm resisting Donald Trump and his whole apparatus of oppression. I'm protecting the social gains we've been able to achieve since the 1960s.
Town Hall Meeting with Congresswoman Jackie Speier, Half Moon Bay High School
Adele: I'm resisting all the hate that has come about through the Trump campaign. He provided a license for hatred to manifest in this country. Hatred on so many different levels... hatred against women, hatred against people of color, hatred against the immigrants. Hatred against the environment.
I really feel like it's about love vs hate right now. You wanna protect what you love. We wanna protect the planet. We wanna protect each other. That's including everybody, people of color, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, it's about love.
Karen: I'm concerned about the new administration and the threat to rights across the board, ranging from women to minorities to immigrants. I feel like there's a large amount I took for granted the last eight years.
I'm trying to protect my sons' futures. I'm trying to protect basic human rights for everybody, I'm trying to do what Coretta Scott King did. Every generation has their struggle and I think I just found mine.
Bay Resistance Mass Meeting & Training, Mission High School, San Francisco
Micah: I'm resisting white supremacy and cishetero-patriarchy, resisting violence against trans people and specifically trans women and femmes of color. We've had seven trans women murdered so far this year and probably more.
Nkeiruka: I'm resisting the fear of inaction. That's it. I'm protecting my children. I'm protecting my identity, my freedom to be able to be who I am and to be able to have a community that thrives and is joyous.
Ken: I'm resisting authoritarianism and the diminishing of democratic values.
I'm protecting my community here. I'm an immigrant, my parents were immigrants and i think the saying "an injury to one is an injury to all" is very relevant in this time. The targeting of Muslim-Americans and Latino-Americans affects all of us as immigrants, so I'm here to protect that.
Iman: As a queer black woman in America, I am resisting multiple threats to my intersectional identity and all of my friends and family who are also under attack under this new regime. I'm resisting privatization in the public schools. As a graduate student UC Berkeley, I feel that our education system could potentially crumble under this administration unless we resist. I am resisting mass deportation and incarceration. I am resisting anti-blackness, Islamophobia. I am resisting transphobia and the erosion of women's rights as well as queer rights. I am resisting the lack of hope that I think has come with this administration and the election.
I am protecting home first. That's heavy to unpack, but home being my community, the spaces that I occupy, the people that I love, chosen and kin family, so I am actively protecting the things that I cherish.
Bianca: As a young Brown teenager coming from an urban community I am resisting the inequalities that my community has faced. Things like white supremacy to racism to xenophobia to racial profiling. It's just discrimination based on our skin and how we speak and how we look.
I am protecting the vulnerable dreams that most of still have. The little sparkle of hope that some of us still have inside of us, from those that are already been here for a lot of time, already saw a lot of stuff and just little by little given up, but there's always that little drop of hope inside of you.
Timmy: I'm here protecting immigrants and refugees. This administration has said clearly that they actually don't want immigrants and refugees in this country and as a refugee myself [from Vietnam], it means a lot to me to be out here protesting.
Day Without a Woman, San Francisco City Hall
Sophie: I'm just trying to resist the "them versus us" mentality and the denigration of empathy between people.
Emma Eisler: I'm resisting Trump's agenda to rollback environmental regulations and to continue harming the planet. That's my main thing.
Marlene: I'm protecting women's right to do what they want with their bodies and it's no one else's choice but theirs.
Maurice Ellis: I'm resisting hatred and I am protecting love.
Melanie: [I'm protecting] my sisters around the world, their right to the same human rights that we enjoy here.
Resist Trump Tuesday: Health Care Rally, Senator Feinstein's San Francisco Office
CJ: I'm fighting changes that would affect my life in a negative way. I kinda thought my hell-raising days were over back in the '70s, but I guess not. Here I am again.