Diversity and/or Unity
Apples or oranges? Oranges!
V-neck or crew-cut? V-Necks are so in.
To have cake and eat it? Yes!
To be or not to be? Seriously?
Sanity and/or Fear? Absolutely!
Diversity and/or Unity? …. Um….
Is it possible to have both? TOO HARD!
As the morning started, I knew this would not be a typical Saturday.
Getting up at the same time I get up during the week, 5am, sucks on a brisk October Saturday. But It’s the day we’ve been waiting for … for weeks.
Is there love to be found? Moderates like myself have been clamoring for an opportunity to be counted. We just can’t yell as loud as the ultra-right/left and arguing with them is just tiring. So finally, someone with a lot of money and influence has called on US… the unarmed army of tolerance, civility, information and ideas… into action! Spread some love!
So… not going into the details of how fucked up the commute, that usually takes 20 minutes, was … finally I was down on the Hill.
Crispy Christ on a Cross! There were a lot of people out here at 8am for something that is supposed to start at 12p. Like… A LOT! We all know have some idea what the estimates are (somewhere around 215,000) and I can tell you… there were that many sometime around 10am. And by 12p when The Roots came on stage… I could not see anything but people. I put my bike mirror on a stick, held it over my head and… started breaking out into hives… there were so many. I keep walking (having foolishly been walking around for a few hours, found myself so far away from the stage) south. I’m taking it all in.
As John Legend sings about how crazy this world is; how hard of a time this is in America… I’m doing my best to find the weakness at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. Well, not the weakness… I’m looking for the point to exploit.
Is there a single demographic that is the majority of the people here?
I walk around, groove’n to the modern crooner, and I’m looking for it and I’m becoming increasingly frustrated.
Everywhere I look and find a group of white people… I also find a group of black or latino or asian people with them or even mixed in. I’ve tried this before… at Tea Party rallies; at the Glenn Beck Rally to Restore Honor… those were easy compared to today. The Glenn Beck rally was FUN! There were a bunch of people (no where near as many) but only rarely did I find a brownie. And yes, I went to the GB rally. I like to hear both sides. It’s what being a moderate is all about, isn’t it? White people… a few sprinkles of negro… a pinch of ‘them Spanish folk”; bake for 3 hours … Tea Party! But this is different. Damn.
I’m still about 3 blocks from the stage and the crowd is so dense it’s similar to being at the 930 Club when The National plays. Saying “excuse me” is fruitless and my crowd anxiety so kicking in when I see it. I realize what I should be looking for.
The more people I bump into are people my age. This is a young people thing. That’s it. It’s a 20something, 1960’s Student Union, sorta thing…
“Mom! Over here, Mom!”
A middle-aged woman in a Maryland Terrapins jersey crosses my path “I’m coming,” she says with a distinct southern twang. An old person? A southern person? Well that’s at least interesting. I decided I would kinda stalk this woman, as long as she was heading in the right direction, because I was intrigued.
I assumed people from New York, Boston, Baltimore or even California would come … but I didn’t expect anyone more southern than DC to participate. After being creepy for about 5 minutes I was close enough to walk over and start a conversation and found out that not only did the old people come from Oklahoma and their daughter is a UMD student… but they came on a bus with 50 other Oklahomans. Naturally I was astonished and I wanted to meet the group. This is not fitting into my preconceived narrative… I want the story I want… but fuck it, it’s the most interesting thing I’ve seen all day.
“Sure, honey.” So as we walked, slowly inching closer and closer to the group and the stage we chatted about their 30-hour trip from the sleepy town of Johnson, OK; just outside of Oklahoma City. And I talked about what it’s like to be a native and have a bunch of tourists fuck up my Saturday. As we laughed and pushed our way through the crowd it felt unending, but not all that bad, as she always kept an eye or hand out to make sure I didn’t get lost. I felt five.
Finally we were there and the Sun began to peek out from a thin layer of milk-pink clouds. “Hey ya’ll, I’ve got a young man here and he wants to talk to us. What your name honey?” she asks with the sudden realization that we had not even exchanged names yet. For a moment I felt like the New Left Media guy (who I later found out WAS there)… going up to random people… asking them questions with my… DAMNIT! … No camera. Oh well…
Time to get to know the folksy folks. And I’m talking S.Palin “folks”, or at least I thought so. As I start off I have to keep myself in check and try… TRY … not to jump to conclusions about these people. Have an open mind. And I start small and easy… ask them about their trip… what life is like Johnson.
“It’s nice to get away from, from time to time, see new people,” one of the ladies says. The punch line “it gets boring looking a bunch of white people all the time” gets a riot of laughter from Marjorie… but embarrassment from her daughter. I laugh, cuz that shit is funny, and she continues “ there aren’t many people of color where we are… in our state… in general… but specifically in our town. For the past 71 years I’ve lived around the same group of people. Old crabby white people who have no idea what the world is about, and that’s not just the people who came on the bus with me.” Obviously the comedian of the crew, she knows that being 71, you can say shit like that. Still, a candy is thrown at her in response and the embarrassment is more apparent on the Marjorie’s daughter’s face
(part one of two)
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