Monday, November 14, 2016

So you want to protest with your kids


Here are my thoughts, in no particular order, after doing intensive "speaking truth to power" protests for 5 years.

* I present as white, middle class, CIS, able bodied-ish, and my ideas of what is safe for me and my boys are predicated on that. You do you.

* Please practice taking your kids to a smaller protest before January 21st.

            My baby's first protest was in our neighborhood when he was 6 months old- and it turned out shouting scared him. I wouldn't want to discover that far from home.

* Have at least one adult per child, the more the better

       (child being somewhere around 15/16 and under.... But your mileage may vary) Depending on the vibe, make sure you agree which adult is in charge of which kid if you need to move quickly.

* Stay near the edge

        Several reasons- one of the things my kids love about a protest is getting their picture taken. We're short, so to be visible we need to be at the edge

          I need to be able to see. We avoided getting pepper sprayed at our first Occupy protest because I could see the kettling nets coming. We stepped away, bought a pretzel and drink, and fled to the subway.

* Know two different ways to get home/ to a safe space.

           Protesting in my own city, I know the lay of the land. If I go to DC in January, I'll make sure I take a local with me.

            (Twitter person suggested mapping it out beforehand)

* Talk to the strangers near you

           It takes a village to keep your kids safe (and entertained) during a protest

* Bring snacks

            Use disposable containers, avoid messy snacks. At our first Occupy march, ProtestKid spent the first 20 minutes having a coughing fit when he inhaled his apple and the juice went down the wrong tube. Oops.


             McDonald's and Starbucks. The people behind the counter are likely to be allies. (If things get dicey but you don't or can't leave the area, pop into stores and ask for help)

* Entertainment

              Did you know, protesting can be boring? Especially if you have short legs and can't see much?

               Use your usual coping strategies, and also- Find people who look like they're having fun. My kids gravitate towards the music makers. I bring whistles, hand symbols, music sticks- and I bring enough to share.

* Sharing

              Bring a thing that you can share with those nearby. I bring a big bag of Ricola throat sweets, because shouting is hard work and throat sweets really help.

* Swearing

               There will be swearing, on signs and in chants. My kids have permission to swear during a protest, with the understanding that they don't have to participate in any chant they aren't comfortable with. (ProtestKid is not comfortable with "Pussy grabs back!" but LilMan loves "Donald Trump is full of shit!")

 * Know your kids

             ProtestKid loves protests. LilMan, however, quickly decided McDonald's was insufficient bribe for the boredom and foot pain of protesting and I stopped bringing him to protests nor did I argue.

* Let your kids surprise you

             I told the boys Trump won Wednesday morning. ProtestKid asked for permission to swear (granted) and LilMan sobbed- and then he said, "I think I want to protest now."

* If you choose not to protest that's ok

             I must protest, but I can't always physically be there- I'm sick, the baby's sick, whatever. That is when you find a livestream and post it to your social network. Share tweets of people there. Boost the signal. And then donate to bail funds and join jail support teams.

              One high-arrest risk protest I went to, without kids, my protest buddy and I took a break from the main action. A reporter asked, snidely, "Why aren't you [in center of the blockade]?" and I said, "Because my comrades are, and we're taking turns."

                The burden is not all yours.

* The balance between protester & parent is not easy

             I thought I was used to strangers judging my parenting, but when a video of police attacking the art our kids made went vaguely viral, it hit a new level.

Here are thoughts that helped me:

              People take their kids to church and no one calls it brainwashing

              Who is making this protest unsafe?

               As a parent, it's my job to teach my children what the monsters look like and how to face them- and to show them they're not alone. We will fight the monsters together.




  1. ❤️ Thank you for posting this. ❤️

    1. I hope it helps. If you have any questions I can add to it.

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