Friday, November 25, 2016

Are we protesting because we’re concerned about issues, or because there’s nothing worth watching on TV?

I’m not one of those people who sees protesters and rallies as something subversive or a waste of time – even if it’s a batch of people with whom I completely disagree I have always seen the right to assemble and express oneself as one of the fundamental rights of people in this country.
Disgust over Donald?

Yet there are times when I do wonder if people put together protests without giving much thought to the image they’re going to create amongst the public. Are they doing harm to their cause by trivializing it?

THAT IS A thought that has been bopping about in my brain since I received a statement through e-mail a few days ago telling me how the students at Bowen High School in the South Chicago neighborhood were planning to express their outrage over the fact that Donald Trump was actually chosen to be president.

Students participated on Tuesday afternoon in a walkout, meaning they skipped class. The statement I received said it was meant to, “show opposition to the rise of hate and racism across the nation in the resulting weeks.”

Said statement also had quotations attributed to school administrators offering up support for the event, in which students skipped class to march to nearby Bessemer Park – where they partook in a rally that WLS-TV reported was to express opposition to harassment of people who are black or immigrant or not otherwise of an image that Trump-types might want to believe doesn’t belong here.

It sounds like a noble cause. It even uses the tactic that younger students have used often before to try to express themselves – the walkout. Yet I can’t help but wonder how many people are going to view this as just a chance for people to get out of a geometry class they wouldn’t have paid much attention to anyway?

PARTICULARLY SINCE PROTESTS related to disappointment that we as a society could really be stupid enough to elect Trump president have been done elsewhere, and with greater effect.

This really comes off as an attempt that plays as too little, too late – something that would have had greater impact on Nov. 9 but by Nov. 22 was old and moldy.

Which is similar to how I’m perceiving the protests that we’re told will take place Friday along Michigan Avenue; the place for people who want to be seen shopping -- real people shop elsewhere.
Refusing to forget Laquan

Friday, of course, is “Black Friday,” the date upon which retailers go into the black financially for the year – making all their sales during December as pure profit.

FOR THOSE WHO think back to last year, activists concerned with the shootings by police of too many young black men used the day to stage protests downtown – hoping to gain attention to their cause by disrupting all the holiday shopping that took place.

They’re hoping for an encore, saying they’ll be out there again. They’re going to demand that people LISTEN to them and feel a reaction. Which is a problem, because one of the realities of freedom of expression is that you have a right to say or think what you want – but you don’t get a guarantee of the last word.

Also, people have the right to choose to ignore you if they wish.

Which is what I suspect will happen on Friday. We’ll get the sight of several holiday shoppers going to extremes to ignore what is being said – particularly if it tries to keep reminding us of Laquan McDonald; the young man whose videotaped shooting death by police left some appalled, but others feeling empathy for police.

I CAN SENSE how some people are going to feel it’s the same old trash talk being spewed. A repeat of the same ol’ day we experienced last year – only not in a cute and funny way like in the movie “Groundhog Day.”
The extent to which many people will be concerned
I sense a public relations disaster in the making, particularly if incidents arise that cause police to try to take anyone into custody. Could we get the sight of holiday shoppers cheering for the police while activists try to make their case against violence?

Not that I’ll be anywhere near this. For I have to confess to detesting the whole idea of holiday shopping beginning so soon. As you read this, I may be preparing myself for a holiday feast that my father is actually starting to prepare as I write this Wednesday afternoon.

Either that, or I’ll be taking a desperately needed nap – the only “cause” I’ll be promoting on this holiday of thanks.


No comments: