I am not the most politically active individual. I have very firmly held beliefs and am not likely to change them without a heck of a good reason. Which is not to say I’m completely inflexible, I am willing to listen to both sides of most arguments. When it comes to standing up for basic human rights, I’m all in! In recent memory I have been to 5 protests, my son went with me to 4 of them.
The first protest I went out of my way to be a part of was up in Illinois. I think it was November 2010, in a nearby town a soldier had been killed overseas. The Westboro Baptist Church (the thank God for dead soldiers group) had said they would be there to protest at the funeral. I, and many others, turned up to counter protest and be support for the family. However, the church's tires were all slashed at a protest in another state the day before and they were unable to make it, so we ended up just being a very large positive turn out for a mourning family.
July 2015, my son got to see his first protest. When same sex marriage became legal in the country the county I lived in refused. They claimed that the form they had only had lines for the husband and wife, so they couldn’t issue the licenses. We did not join the group of protesters because my guy was not quite a year and a half and was far more interested in picking up sticks in the park than with what was happening. He was thereJuly 2016, our city had a small Black Lives Matter protest in our downtown. I don’t remember if there were speeches, but we stood and held our signs. My son wore his sign as a hat because he was about 2 and a half and that seemed like the better way to display it according to him. He was there.
May 2018, we showed up late to a school shooting protest and looked at all of the messages that had been chalked by the protesters and kids. My guy found some chalk and added random lines and decorations to the open spaces. He was mad at me because I wouldn’t let him write on the words, names, or other people’s work. I was scared because he would start attending a public Pre-K in just a few months. He was there.
June 2020, our city came together in a way I would have never expected. We attended a rally and march with over 600 people. It was hot, it was uncomfortable, but we were there. I put my son in a shirt that said “I’m here to learn,” because that is what I wanted him to do. I put him in a mask with cartoon characters on it because of COVID-19. We had discussed what the march was about in the days leading up to it. He listened, but I really don’t know how much he really understands about what is going on. He was there, and he knew it.
We didn’t stay for the speeches after because the heat got the better of me. I wondered if he really understood what was going on, but later I heard him in his room singing a song of his own creation that only had the words “Black Lives Matter.” My hope is that as he grows the movement will too. I look forward to seeing changes in policies and in police tactics. I hope when he is older he will look back and realize that his presence was part of a movement that changed things.
He told me when we got in our car to drive home that he will not be doing that again because it was too hot. I’ve got bad news for that kid, we will be attending protests as long as there is injustice. He can hope they will be in cooler weather, I can hope there won’t be reasons for us to take a stand, but I’m pretty sure this won’t be the last time I take my child to a protest.