“I don’t care if I die at this protest!”
I’m driving my teenage niece to her first BLM protest because she’s been radicalized by TikTok praxis and wants to get with the shit. I think it’s cute, mostly because she’s been telling me about how to avoid getting tear gassed and how to film police not protesters. She’s so idealistic about this whole thing, and it’s giving me life, but I also told her: protests are basically just political exercise. We’ll probably walk around for a mile, listen to some speeches, then go home. She thinks that we’re going to get assaulted by the police, but first of all, Oakland on a Friday afternoon is not going to get poppin off like that because these are community events and it seems like there’s a tacit agreement to not assault protesters when the families show up during the day. That’s a night time activity. Secondly, fuck no I am not bringing my niece to one of those legit ass dangerous protests. Yes, they are fun as fuck, but does my niece seriously think I’m going to take her to a protest where she might die!? Jesus, I’m not that irresponsible.
So I tell her, “Well, I care if you die, so you’re not going to die at this protest, but I appreciate the passion that you’re bringing to the table. But, you should know, as a young woman of color the most radical thing you can do to piss off the man is live a long, prosperous life.”
I don’t think that comment really sank in, but that’s okay. Today is the first day of us being comrades in arms, so there is plenty of time for me to indoctrinate my niece with my particular brand of PMA anarchism. Which is weird but also thrilling because I didn’t even realize that we were bringing the next generation of political activists into the fold already! We are bringing these babies into the future!
But also, yes, I must admit it: I am getting old. Which makes me feel slightly self conscious because that probably means that some of my political ideas are likewise dated. My niece is going to take the praxis that me and my friends developed over a decade of BLM and Occupy protests and make it work for their generation. We only accomplished so much in our time, and now the next generation is going to let us know how our ideology failed them.
Whatever. I’m hella proud of my niece for her interest in politics. It’s weird to realize that she’s not four years old anymore. She’s with the shits now, and as I listen to her rant about social injustice I realize, damn, it won’t be long before she’s out there doing the maniest shit possible, just like I used to do, and that scares the shit out of me. I can feel it happening. I can feel myself wanting to say, “Please be safe,” but I can also feel myself screaming, “Safe! Safe!? The world is unsafe so who cares if I’m in danger at the protest!” Oh, god, my niece is going to be out there getting arrested and rubbing elbows with people who might hurt her. Fuck! When I did that, it was fine because it was me, and no one in my family knew, and no one had to worry. But know that my niece is doing it, and also because I know exactly how grimey it gets out there, this shit is not cool, guys! Fuck. Women are still out there getting sexually harassed, and now that I know my niece is going to be in the line of fire, I’m experiencing this new, special type of vengeance that I never felt before. Why didn’t I change the world when I had a chance? Now my niece is out there, trying to change the world, and I feel like such a fucking failure. Oh, and that makes me mad. So, to the protest we go.