February 2, 2011

Category: Real Talk

March Madness: Doth You Protest Enough?

Egyptians are taking it to the streets and I’ve been mesmerized by every bit of their marching, tweeting and protesting. I am inspired and awed. They are dedicated, united and relentless. Not to romanticize their movement for justice, I see the violence, but it is still something to behold and yes, ponder. It makes me think of myself and my peers and what it would take for us to get our marching Choos on in 2011. I look back at the Civil Rights movement and know my ancestors were defiant, embolden and empowered to march, protest and speak out against injustice. Have we and by we, I mean young people, people of color, and young people of color, have we gotten so comfortable that we have become incapable of civil unrest?

I remember when I was in college and the Rodney King verdict dropped. My classmates and I were immediately moved to action. But I must admit in college, I think we were moved to action dang near all the time! That’s just the mindset and spirit we had. We were Liberal Arts students reading everyone from Fanon to Foucalt to Faludi. We felt like we could and should be able to demand and enact change and justice. We marched for at least 30 miles and convened in a town square where we proceeded to set that baby off. Ahh the good ole days! I felt like I had no choice, but to march and show that I was outraged and in opposition to the jury’s decision to acquit the police officers involved in King’s beating. Nowadays I have to wonder what would get my peers and I off of our arses en masse and on the streets in protests. I feel like The Million Man March was a wonderful show of that same kind of unity and fervor that we see in Cairo today, but that was over a decade ago. I even went to 125th Street in 2008 and joined about 70 other people to show my solidarity with those angered by the outcome of the Sean Bell case, but the majority of folks marching and blocking traffic that day in Harlem were not young folk. My generation is not bringing it like we could and, most importantly, like we should. I’m part of the hiphop generation that comes from the Fight The Power cipher, but this current, younger Cash Money generation is extinguishing the overall revolutionary fire we started back in the day and that ish just hurts. Frustrates me. I’ve seen jokes on Twitter about Black folks forming a Coffee Party to go head to head with the Tea Party, but that’s all it is. Just a joke, another Black Twitter hashtag. Meanwhile it was young folks who initiated the protests in Egypt. It was also my generation that led the recent political movements in London over high college tuition fees and in Paris over ethnic and racial discrimination. What will it take for young folks in the US to take up their banner and get their march on? Have you participated in a protest movement and would you do it again?

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3 Responses to “March Madness: Doth You Protest Enough?Comment RSS feed

  • florence tate
    February 3rd, 2011 7:08 pm

    a challenging call to black , young ,black and young people to capture the spirit of protest and rebellion against oppression and discrimination of all kinds. yawl can do it!
    a fine piece of work, nicole.

  • Justin
    February 4th, 2011 7:42 pm

    As always, great insight. Personally, I think American young people are too apathetic to protest–they’ll complain, blog, tweet, bitch and moan, but “protesting” takes organization and planning. Plus, as bleak as the outlook is for jobs, security, etc., folks don’t think they have it that bad so long as the cable is on, they can find enough change in their couch for a meal at Taco Bell, and the snowstorm hasn’t unduly delayed their Gamefly delivery. Egyptian youth, on the other hand, “know” adversity and truly appreciate the need for change.
    Another Poli-Sci 101 reason that young Americans are not likely to protest is because they (ostensibly) have the tools of democracy to actually effect change. The freedom to vote, run for office, and actually create legislation that can change people’s lives is really taken for granted in this country. Again, that is not something that Egyptian youth have experienced. For thirty years, they have lived under one leader, and their “democratic” system is an impenetrable maze of cronyism and corruption. While Americans can debate whose four or eight years are to blame for our predicament until the cows came home, there is little doubt who is to blame in Egypt. Even if everything isn’t Mubarak’s fault, he can’t take all the glory when things go well and none of the blame when they don’t.

  • theHotness
    February 10th, 2011 3:11 pm
    Author's Reply

    Thanks MT for the props and Justin, wow, you hit the nail on the head and split it in half! Excellent point about why we lack the motivation to protests and take it to the streets!