The protests I attended in the early aughts were, for the most part, pretty underwhelming: My fellow teens and I would gather at one large empty public space or another, march and/or chant in unison to demonstrate our displeasure with whatever horrors the military industrial complex had unleashed that month, and return home before midnight without so much as leaving a scratch on the raging death machine that is the State. The one exception to this monotony was maybe when my best friend, 14 years old at the time and sporting an idiotic blue mohawk, lobbed some anarchist propaganda into the front seat of a cop car without having the sense to run away. (We were white kids in Boston, the patron city of whiteness, and he later rang me up to say he was spending the night in jail.)
Anyway, maybe it’s because my creative energies as a kid were spent on other, less morally righteous kinds of mischief, or that in my day there weren’t smartphones everywhere for us to flip off and scream into, but for some reason I’m finding that the kids’ shenanigans are really softening the blow of the wheezing, hellish last gasps of the American Empire. I do not think “the teens” are a unified singular voice, as many outlets continue to assume, and I really doubt yelling “Eat my ass!” at elected representatives will stop said reps from greasing their pasty palms with money from the NRA.
What I do know is that calling a protester a teenager in this particular moment is a wild compliment. And that if I were Mary Fallin, the governor of Oklahoma, and my teachers were striking as part of a historic, multi-state movement for fair wages and reasonable budgets, and I had been the one to compare their demands to “a teenage kid that wants a better car,” I would have been very peeved to be chased around my place of business while fake teens jangled their car keys and chanted “Where’s! My! Car!” Enjoy: