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Thoughts After a Protest Rally

Last night I went with my eleven-, thirteen-, and seventeen-year-old grandchildren to a rally in downtown Minneapolis (Minnesota, USA). The rally was calling for justice in the black community following the murder of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of his murderer. Trayvon was a seventeen-year-old black teen who was shot to death by a neighborhood watch person, George Zimmerman, a Latino man. Zimmerman had stalked Trayvon, who had gone to a convenience store for snacks, because Zimmerman thought Trayvon “looked suspicious.”

A few thousand people were gathered in protest. My eleven- and thirteen-year-old grandchildren, who are Ojibwe1 on their mother’s side and African American on their father’s, pushed to the front of the rally to hold a banner calling for justice. They also went to the rally organizers (without my knowing) and asked to speak at the microphone.

They talked to the crowd of thousands about what it was like for them as thirteen- and eleven-year-old young Native and Black women, about how hard it was in the inner-city community where they lived and at school, and about their dreams for the future. The youngest talked about wanting to be a teacher and said that she didn’t know if she would make it.2 At that point, those thousands of folks started chanting to her, “Yes you can. Yes you can.”

I cried listening to my granddaughters’ brilliance, seeing their bravery, and hearing them proudly claim both their mother and their father in front of the world.

My children have relatives who identify as Chicano/a. My grandchildren have fathers who are African American. As a family we identify and live as Native Americans. And, of course, somewhere there are white ancestors also. All of these people are our people. We all live on one earth.

Although I grew up going to demonstrations and protests for Native and civil rights, being at this rally with my grandchildren scared me, given the recent shootings of children in the United States and the use of paramilitary tactics against civilians at rallies and protests. For much of my time there, I was hyper-alert and on guard, always scanning the crowd.

I woke up this morning asking myself, “What do I have to offer to all these things that are happening? How can I make this world into the world my granddaughters asked for last night? I have this tool of Co-Counseling. Is there a better way I could have used it to be ready for last night?”

Looking back, a handful of Co-Counselors were at the event (I found out from Facebook3 this morning). If I had planned ahead, I could have gathered us together prior to last night, so we could discharge about our intentions for being at the event, how we could take leadership if need be, and how we could support the folks who were organizing and leading the rally.

Marcie Rendon
International  Liberation Reference
Person for Native Americans
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion
list for leaders of Native Americans

1 The Ojibwe people are a tribe of  Native Americans who lived originally in what are now Ontario and Manitoba, Canada, and Minnesota and North Dakota, USA.
2 “Make it” means get there.
3 Facebook is an online social networking service.    

Last modified: 2014-12-17 19:10:53+00