|BLM -- Chicago Tribune photo|
I try to get to Taste of Chicago at least once every year. It's fun. The location is wonderful, right off the Lake and decorated by Buckingham Fountain. The food is delicious. What's not to love?
This year was especially memorable. My dining buddy was my nephew, who was proudly wearing one of his wardrobe of Bernie Sanders shirts. I love how informed he is, how passionate he is. He had intended to spend this time off school to work on Bernie's Presidential campaign and alas, that's not going to happen. But here's the thing: just like I'm a lifelong Kennedy girl (meaning I believe it's my responsibility to get involved, and to do what it takes to get the right things done), I predict that this Sanders campaign will leave its enduring mark on my nephew.
Because he's at such an impressionable age at such a turbulent time in our country's history, I was glad the day unfolded the way it did. A very large and vocal Black Lives Matter protest moved across the city, trying to make themselves heard by disrupting commerce on a busy summer Saturday. They hit major tourist sites, namely Millennium Park and The Taste of Chicago.
They marched. They chanted. They "died" (laying on the hot asphalt with their eyes closed). The CPD accompanied them, protecting them and us, without disrespecting anyone.
So we twice found ourselves in the thick of a protest on a hot summer day. He was transfixed. I tried to keep him moving -- even though I wanted to stand in place and observe and I suspect if it was up to him, we would have joined in -- because I am pretty sure that's what my sister/his mother would have wanted me to do.
I asked him how he felt about all this. Was he nervous? Scared? He responded by applauding.
I agree. What we saw today was a peaceful protest. America at its best. After the ugliness of the last week, it was heartening.
The protesters weren't thugs. The cops weren't Nazis. There was a dignity to both sides, and a sense of inevitability to the whole thing. We have a problem in this city, in the country, and we're never going to solve it without honest conversation. And we can't have this dialog if we keep denying that the problem exists. Dragging it out into the sun -- literally -- on this busy Saturday afternoon is a good start.