Monday, January 4, 2016

Getting ‘em involved at a young age

It always kind of throws me for a loop whenever I encounter a protest action of sorts and see kids dragged along, in tow. My guess is that somebody couldn’t find a baby-sitter that day.

Spending the day informing Chicagoans about someth8ing they likely didn't care about. Photographs by Gregory Tejeda
Or perhaps somebody thinks they can pass along their own outspoken activist spirit to their young’uns even before the kids are capable of comprehending exactly what it is they’re hearing.

I MEAN THAT literally. I once knew a young woman who described her father as a racist, borderline-white supremacist who took her rallies as a child – using her as the image of blonde white purity that these knuckleheads were supposedly looking to protect.

As she remembered those days, she recalled wondering why all those surrounding them were so hostile. It was only later she realized they were reacting to the negativity that was coming from her own group – which as far as I could tell she so thoroughly renounced as an adult.

As recently as Saturday, I encountered a protest rally – one held in front of the Wrigley Building by people of Nigerian ethnic (and Islamic religious) origins who were protesting the abduction of a sheikh and the slaying of all his male off-spring.

According to the activists, the government officials who ordered this action left the daughter alive so she could tell the story to the world about how tough and vicious the Nigerian Army was capable of being – so as to scare others into submission.

THIS PARTICULAR GROUP wasn’t threatening. They merely wanted their story to be heard – particularly because it’s one of those international issues that is never going to get a mention on the local television newscasts.

What does baby in carriage REALLY think?
At best, it would have got a couple of paragraphs mention in the newspaper – and would have been ignored by those kind of people who think “nobody reads the newspaper any longer.”

How could I tell they were merely loud (I heard them clearly from a half-mile away) and not dangerous? How many mothers are wielding a picket sign in one hand, and a baby carriage in the other?

With the baby inside the carriage bearing his own sign.

THEN AGAIN, HOW many times will you see children lined up along Michigan Avenue doing their own chants and waving their own placards around?

Then again, perhaps we should wonder just how well those kids comprehended anything they were saying? Or how many of them felt a similar attitude like my soon-to-be 13-year-old niece (she’d be offended if I wrote she was just 12)?

My step-sister recently took her and my nephew along with her on a downtown trip when they encountered “Black Lives Matter” protesters along Michigan Avenue, and my step-sister with the kids joined in.

My niece’s primary observation was that an anticipated shopping trip got disrupted by protests and politics. Although my interest in her tale was more in the police reaction – it seems those who “serve and protect” were on their best behavior that one day.

SHOWING THEY ARE capable of controlling themselves when they want to.

I wonder how much this youthful participation is a trend of the future. Or perhaps it has always been there, and I just wasn’t paying that much attention.

How many protesters brought families with them?
Although none of it was as potentially confusing as one time I went to a ballgame at U.S. Cellular Field and wound up sitting right behind a couple who brought their newborn son to his first ballgame ever. Wearing a White Sox baby-sized shirt and a Boston Red Sox cap (the father was from Massachusetts who fell for a Sout’ Side girl).

I remember asking that new dad who the kid was rooting for, only to be told “he’s a Sox” fan. I still wonder if that kid, who’d be about 13 now, rebelled against his parents by rooting for the Yankees!


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