activism 102 (warning: orange-level political post)

...it's activism 102 because we've already marched for AIDS awareness before.

This afternoon, Alexander and I stumbled across the largest protest march in New York City since the United States began last year's sojourn into Iraq. Today's march marked the one year anniversary of the same event. Serendipitously finding ourselves with a hunger to do something different on 6th Avenue and 23rd Street, Alexander and I decided to walk with the marchers. If anything, we could see where the march went, and hopefully see ourselves on t.v.

Flyer man: "Communist newsletter, please take one!"
Me: "Erm..no thank you."
Flyer man: "Free Palestine!"
Me: "Erm...thanks but I'm here about our U.S. troops in Iraq?"
Flyer man: "Vote for Kucinich!"
Me: "Erm...no, really, no."
Flyer man: "Get the U.S. out of Haiti!"
Me: "Erm...yeah, ok."
Flyer man: "Legalize medical marijuana!"
Me: "Hmm...ah...pass. I have a kid here."

And on it went. U.S. flags. Doumbek players. A group of three young girls in pink with Barbie dolls and their mom. There was a group of tuxedo-ed gentlemen with "Billionaires for Bush" and "*&^% the Poor" signs (all in satire) who sang a capella tunes that were really rather good. Reminded me of the barber shop quartets at Disney World. Somebody dumped a bucket of water from the 10th floor of a high-rise at a group of people in front of us. A woman who looked about 70-years old had been marching in that spot. At our 3 o'clock were muslim women in headcoverings who walked together and shouted catchy chants REALLY LOUDLY. A very jewish-looking curly-haired lady- photog took a bunch of photos of these women. When a journalist approached one of the muslim women for a quote, the interviewee suddenly became shy and reserved. A priest walked behind us. A bunch of cheerleaders with pink pom-poms walked behind the priest.

I bumped into a Columbia Business School sweatshirt-wearing marcher.

It was sunny. Alexander and I talked about the United Nations, international laws, and grabbing a latte. His feet began to bother him as we turned onto Madison Ave.

One gentleman stood on a sidewalk with a placard which read, "9/11 mural demonstrates Iraq link" with a picture of the infamous Saddam mural showing the twin towers ablaze. Alexander did not understand the mural on the placard. I explained how it was found in Iraq. A group of marchers were verbally harassing this man. Alexander was worried something would happen to him. "Leave him alone," an older black woman activist mumbled. "Get off our street!" some marchers yelled at him. The man was surrounded by cops. "Actually, it's his street, too," I told Alexander. We walked to a Starbucks for a break.

Alexander's feet were sore by the time we'd walked across the mid-belly of the island of Manhattan. We tried to find a park bench to rest. A cop stopped us and told us "No sitting on the park benches." He looked at Alexander. The cop relented.

Me to cop: "So, where are you from?"
Cop: "New York."
Me: "No, really. De donde es usted? "
Cop: "OK, Ok, I'm from Puerto Rico. You?"
Me: "My mom is from (name of latin country). My dad is from (name of European country). This sort of thing would never be possible in my mother's country."
Cop: "They'd hang your mother's people there."
Me: "I know."
Cop to Alexander: "So, your feet ok?"
Alexander: "They're ok."
Cop to Alexander: "Sit a little longer, ok?"
Me to cop: "Thanks for your service. Really."
Cop: "I really hope this march gets somebody's attention. I really hope things get better over there."
Me: "Me, too."
[Alexander stands up]
Me: "Bueno, gracias por su ayuda..."
Cop: "Por nada."

I disagree. Whatever reason we chose to find ourselves there today, it was for something, por algo, even if we did not immediately recognize it.

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