I first read Erin’s post on Facebook and, when I wrote to ask if I could share it here, I wondered if Sam would be interested in writing about his experience. He was and, in the next couple of hours, wrote an insightful, observant and powerful piece. As one of the older people who can’t be there with them, I am grateful, both for their showing up and for bringing me, and us, along so vividly.
Took the 16-year-old to the demonstrations
by Erin McGaughan, Seattle, WA
Took the 16-year-old to the demonstrations this afternoon, all good. Accidentally found ourselves in the front squad of the march, with Nikkita Oliver as our drill sarge for the chants and stuff. She’s quite good, which I knew, but it’s nice to be reminded.
Pretty much everyone was wearing masks, though we were certainly all crammed together, and chanting is about like choir singing in terms of spreading. So. Yeah, we’re almost certainly going to see a regional spike because of this, and it’s going to hit people of color harder than the white people, because historically oppressed folks always get hit harder.
Still, the speakers were constantly telling people to stay safe, stay aware, and taking care of each other, checking on each other, going slow enough for everyone, stuff like that. Really, very sweet and loving stuff. I mean, except when they were shouting fuck the police, but you know, that’s the nature of the context.
Only major downside: the marches are missing old people, kids, and people in wheelchairs. I’m sure this is in large part due to the virus. But I missed them.
Sam was super-serious, and focused, the whole time. I know his eyes well enough to know he didn’t crack a smile under the mask. But I could tell he really loved it. He didn’t want to leave when my body needed to, cuz of the fake hip and the whatnot.
When we got home I asked him if he had fun. He said, “No, that’s not the point, it was IMPORTANT.” Love that.
A sadness that hung in the air
by Sam Hochberg, Seattle, Washington
I’ve been to several large-scale Seattle protests in the past. Some have been for climate change, some for Women’s rights, some for other things. Going to these protests recently has been a completely different experience. Firstly, the concern for safety is through the roof: Nearly everyone had masks on, there were several people scattered throughout the mass of people with backpacks labeled “First Aid,” with things like eye protection, masks, and cold water to flush out tear gas. Secondly, there was a sort of grief present. Whether it came from the fact that we all had a much higher chance of being assaulted by the police that day, or the fact that the world, in general, had been crumbling around us much more than usual, there was a sadness that hung in the air along with the collective anger.
Once we started marching, I started to notice much more. There was graffiti nearly everywhere, the same few messages persistent throughout. There were some people burning sage at the front. An older looking roadie-type guy and his young, floppy-haired assistant wheeled a portable PA system to the front of the crowd to help with announcements and leading the mass. Once we got to City Hall, we sat on and around the road to listen to the 3 or 4 speakers present what they wanted to present, and once they were finished, the mic opened up to youth. young POC were invited to come up in front of everyone and speak their minds, which a few did. Most echoed sentiments brought up by earlier speakers, raising their voices for the whole crowd to hear. Throughout this anger, however, there was also a form of pride. Pride in one’s own identity, pride in being accepted and supported, pride in their refusal to back down, and pride in their own resistance. Seeing this, and participating in these protests, was the most direct way to witness that future taking place.
Thank you both for the birds eye view of what I have been seeing on my small screen TV. Sam, I felt it in my gut what you described and perceived. It was very meaningful to me. You are a fine example of a 2020 sixteen year old. You make us all proud!
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I’ve known Erin since before Sam was born so I am not surprised by the abilities to write with insight and intelligence.
Thank you, Sam for your thoughts and observations. The part about the feeling of sadness made it very real and personal. I am glad you included that.
Thank you for representing those of us whose children and grandchildren refuse to sign our permission slips. It means so much to me
Thank you Ruth, My 16 year old grandson is having a lot of trouble with what’s going on. I hope this will help him see that he is not alone.
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It is a special treat to read these two posts from a mother and her son, dear Erin and Sam! I was moved by Sam’s very articulate description of the effect of the demonstration upon him. Thanks to both of you for sharing your day with us!
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