On Protests

We’re often told that age brings wisdom, but I’ve often found that to be bullshit. The wisdom of age mostly appears to consist of submission to the inorexable weight of the world pressing on your spine until it snaps like a twig. Indeed, this wisdom asks us to make a simple bargain with the devil - evaluate the unknowable and infinite possibility of now arrayed against the volumes of human history and experience, and find that the now will always pale in comparison to the then.

I think about this a lot as I obsessively refresh Twitter and Twitch, watching hundreds of thousands of my generation – again – taking to the streets to demand justice. Whose justice? Does it really matter, any more? Another black man was murdered by the state for the crime of being black. It’s Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd today – it was Philando Castile and Michael Brown yesterday, it was Rodney King before that, it was thousands of black men, women, and children sold into chattel slavery before that. Justice delayed is, indeed, justice denied.

That said, as someone that’s been in a fair amount of protests and marches, I think something is different this time. There’s the obvious - increased police militarization, social media amplifying everything and forming a flywheel of rage and action, a global pandemic that’s lead to massive job loss in the US - but I think it’s also important to note that we’ve been here before. I’m in my late thirties, and I can tell you the net result of every single march I’ve ever been in - jack shit. My generation has been part of the antiwar movement, Ferguson, Occupy Wall Street, and more. What have we gotten? What did we change? Nothing, really. We’re still in Iraq and Afghanistan (lol, fuck), everyone that trashed the economy in ‘08 got away scott free, and the cops are still racist. What’s different, to me, is that this feels like a distinctly generational struggle in a way that those prior movements didn’t.

A national culture that, predominately, is defined by everyone under the age of 40 eating absolute shit for most of their lives in order to transfer vast sums of wealth and power upward, and concentrate it in the hands of an ailing gerentocracy, is not one that can subsist indefinitely. The inner rings of our society have ossified in order to protect the concentrated power of a few, but this makes it brittle. I don’t know where things will go after tonight in the US, but I do know that this isn’t the first time the public has acted out in rage and anger and hurt, and I don’t think it’ll be the last.

I ask that you don’t turn away, though, not now. You need to understand. You need to fight.