Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Dangerous Walk Home

I just picked Zora up from school.
On my way there, I usually walk past the public high school. And I saw it. The reason people with means steer clear of that place. A group of youth up in arms, throwing trash and collecting tires to burn.
Zora's teacher handed me her backpack and said, "The people are talking. There will probably be a strike tomorrow. Listen for the news to see if we have school." I nodded, thinking, yeah, there'll be a strike. I just passed it on the way here!
I took an alternate route home, but apparently didn't make a wide enough circle around the trouble. Within a block of Zora's school, my eyes were burning. I told Zora to cover her face with her shirt and take shallow breaths. I joined with another group of nervous, quick walkers as we tried to find a safe street. People darted their eyes toward me, shaking their heads and pointing, "Don't go down there."
My throat began to burn. It felt like blisters were forming in my mouth, creeping down my throat to my lungs. I walked faster, as if drowning and rushing with all my might to the surface. I couldn't breathe. What were they burning? What were they doing to themselves in the name of protest?
As I was running away, fearing my child's health, the other part of me wanted to run towards them. What are you doing? You are a child harming yourself in hopes that it will somehow make your absent parents start to care. You are hurting the only people who care about you--yourself and those immediately around you. The people you're trying to send a message to are in another part of the city, another part of the country. They don't care. This is not the way that change happens. Not the kind of change you want. And yet, you continue your useless protest, making yourself dumber as you kill more brain cells and irreparably damage your lungs. And those of your neighbors. Your teachers. Your friends.


  1. Josh came home a bit later than Zora & I and heard the word on the street. They were shooting tear gas in addition to burning tires. Experiencing that from a distance, I am now officially against the use of tear gas.

  2. http://www.amazon.com/Finish-Gas-Mask-w-Filter/dp/B0041IER7Y/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1352844884&sr=8-2&keywords=tear+gas+mask

    $25 for a gas mask.
    Tear gas is better than shooting somebody holding hostages in a house, I think though. Glad you are relatively unscathed.
    -Barbara B.