I meant to interview people and take notes, but instead just took photos and chatted. It was too hard to take notes while I had Moomin with me. This little boy’s mom is just outside the frame of the photos and I wish I had taken one of her too… she was so nice!
The immigration rights march was very exciting. There were huge numbers of people, tens of thousands at least. More were arriving even as we left the city.
I heard some worries from people before the march that it would not be safe for children… there might be fights, or arrests, or tear gas, cops in riot gear – could I really justify taking Moomin to something “like that”? My response was to say that if we all brought our children to marches and rallies, then people would have different expectations. And they might behave more moderately.
Kids and families were everywhere, moms and dads and extended families with strollers. There were grandmas with long grey hair and bolivian hats. There were older men with big mustaches and mexican cowboy hats. There were tons of teenagers in groups, that looked to me like friends from school. danah boyd wrote about how the rallies have been framed as something that irresponsible teenagers do to get out of school – so I was especially struck by the way that whole families came and marched together.
I noticed the maoists with their newspapers, and various other flavors of communists out for May Day – International Workers’ Day. But the vast majority of marchers were there as part of a huge grassroots community effort. Churches and soccer teams and people who work together… the news spread and, at least around here, if you are Latino/a then there was (benign) social pressure not to go to work or school.
I had no pressure like that. But living in my city, I didn’t have the privilege not to notice the strike was about to happen. Quite a lot of businesses, and some schools, in my town shut down today. The only pressure came from my own strong beliefs. I think it is important to show solidarity for the things I believe in, and to raise Moomin in a way that shows him those beliefs in action.
I realized on the train on the way up that he was nervous because he thought we were going *to a war*. I think because I had talked about “fighting for rights.” Oops… I explained that it was a peaceful protest of unfair laws. That it was not a war or a fight, it was sort of like a parade! And that it was good to feel hope, from seeing all the people around you who are marching. I told him that all the people marching are like superheroes because they believe we can make the world a better place.
I am very aware through my reading of history how lucky we are to be able to march like this and not fear that our “files” are being updated and we are not in terrible danger of being disappeared or shot. I take that privilege for granted (most of the time) but… that isn’t true for a lot of the people marching.
So, consider the bravery that takes if you come from a country where peaceful political protest and organizing are met with horrific violence. And consider how much fear there has been in the immigrant communities who worry that, even if they have legal working papers or have become citizens, maybe evidence of them at this march could get them deported. I hate to say it but this is not an unreasonable fear. I loved every person I saw today for their incredible bravery.