The Aftermath of Mayday

By: Jennifer Lawson-Zepeda

May 1st, if you lived in the financial district of Los Angles; or anywhere near it, you couldn’t help but hear the demonstrations going on. I happen to enjoy these things; so I already knew I would participate.

They Marched and Spoke

And yes, it was a wonderful feeling to see them all supporting the very things I write about and have supported for so long.

But, I couldn’t help but feel that it was only just one day.

And that all of the ideas they spoke about were great, if only people would maintain that thought all year long. But would they? I wasn’t confident about that.


Personalizing the Demonstrations

I was asked by two men why I was there. I answered that I was there for probably the same reason as everyone else. But one young man made it more personal.

He said, “No! I want to know why are YOU here?”

So I told him my personal story and he made sort of a usual statement...”You should talk to the press. They love stories like yours.”

I had to correct him. In reality, the press could care less about stories like mine. When all of this happened to me, I was certain that if only the right reporter heard about the injustice, they’d run with the story. I realized, quickly, that this was far from the truth.

After May Day

But even while I sat at Pershing Square and listened to all of the music and speeches; I couldn’t help but wonder about the aftermath of May Day.

What would happen once the demonstrators, police, rebel rousers, speechmakers, street painters, hippie socialists and fake hippie photo shooting police spies went home?

And I’m not talking about simply marching in the streets, as the Occupy LA Movement does every Friday night, blocking traffic, and carrying tents, as they shout, “Whose streets, our streets!”

What now?

I’m talking about action in the voting booths, active participation in boycotting corporations exploiting employees, living our lives in a manner that tells the 1% that we aren’t lying down and accepting what they’ve planned for us; but instead, we are actively going to ensure that living our lives with quality matters too.

We’ve proven that boycotts work. Remember the boycotts of Bank of America and how that changed their policy? Why not implement this into a method of change? For instance, can we start a site aimed at:

  • Companies asking for Facebook passwords during an      interview
  • Companies discriminating based on age
  • Companies threatening employees for using vacation time
  • Companies with over 50 people who don’t offer health      care plans

Why not provide a list of companies and their behavior, the same way they look upon us for our reputations? Do I really need financial services from a company who asks for Facebook passwords during the hiring process?

Yesterday was supposed to be the day of the worker. So why aren’t workers bringing back unions to solidify fair employment contracts?

If the excuse is that we removed unions to keep our jobs, then aren’t we living in denial?

Those jobs went overseas right after the unions were removed!

So…what happens now?

  • Are we going to unite and go after the 1%?
  • Are we going to vote for a leader that demands they pay      their fair share of taxes?
  • Are we going to stop unfair overly personal background      checks?
  • Are we going to create corporate reputations?

We have the ability. But will we do what’s needed?

 

6 Comments on “The Aftermath of Mayday”

  1. Thanks for sharing your experience. I think you hit the nail on the head with the press, the mainstream does not care. They were running stupid shit about Obama’s ex-girlfriend.

    I am thinking that simple protests are not going to work as well as they have in the past, The Machine knows how they worked to and has adjusted.

    I believe it would have been better to stay at home, play with your families, take part in your favorite pastime, and shut off all electronics from computers to television for one day. Actually I think it would be good to do it for longer.

  2. The experienced me agrees with you, Grainne. I know that demonstrations, in Los Angeles anyway, are mostly opportunity for every person dying for camera time to come out and dress up in some throw-back hippie gear or colorful costume; or, donning a shirt with some popularized, cliched meaning, grabbing a sign and getting out to show the world how hip they are to man’s suffering…on THOSE days.

    But year round, if you run into these same people at any other given time, they are wearing the latest Boho gear from Nicole Richie’s line; sipping overpriced coffee products at chic little coffee houses — where trendy Boho art hangs from stylishly painted walls and other stunning Bohemian types hang out. They are interacting with rising young producers on Facebook who have buxom fashionably thin, young, women dripping from them at Hollywood parties in the “hills.” They are attending newest release designer handmade jewelry parties; or, newest release promotional parties for the latest Justin Bieber or heavily accented starlet. They are eating at fashionable lunch trucks offering overpriced fusion foods; or, licking their lips over some Jimmy Choo shoes they just HAVE to HAVE! They aren’t worrying about the 99% as much as the 60% off sales at Macys. They aren’t stressing over banking policies as much as H&M’s policy for buying its next fashion find. Some of them are turning out for the Friday night tent-carrying march, where they holler out militant slogans in Spanish and English.

    But are they finding their way down to CHISPA to affect Hispanic policy making or advocacy for Hispanic people? Or, Homeboy Industries to learn what Father Greg is doing with at-risk and former gang members trying to change their lives? Or, the National Association for Hispanic Elderly to help the elderly and other low income immigrants they claim to love?

    Do they volunteer for anything other than dressing up like clowns for these marches? I want to believe some do. I know most don’t. Because I’ve been to the Homies Unidos meetings and seen who volunteers. And it ain’t those lovely people so militant and filled with passion on May Day. It’s ordinary folks who care and often are very mild mannered.

  3. Jennifer, i really love the second paragraph that begins with “but year round if you run into these same people…etc.” You ought to incorporate that paragraph into a novel. The lively tone of voice is engaging.

    Apart from that, i agree that boycotting would be the most effective second engagement tactic. We have already given our show of hands; repeatedly; and no one is counting. There have been energy boycotts in the past; organized days in which everyone went without electricity or refused to buy gasoline for one day. They had short term effects. For awhile energy rates paused, but then began their inexorable upward spiral once again. But what if these boycotts were organized four times a year, on once a month? It sounds uncomfortable, but we are going to have to adjust ourselves to minimizing energy consumption, anyway. Why not do it in a manner that impacts companies?

    Once profiles have been made of companies with unfair hiring practices, boycott them. It’s a profit making industry. There is no better way to send a message than dwindling down their ability to make profit. It’s the only way they will begin to listen.

  4. Karlsie,

    I hate to admit it, but the second paragraph have been real life invitations for me. An invite to Max David’s Hollywood Hills party (I didn’t even know who he was at the time.) Then, a followup Jewelry Premier of some overpriced handcrafted jewelry I’d rather make myself, where (I think) Max Davids was inviting celebrities for a viewing. Constant invitations to these artsy fartsy coffee houses (yet, I hate most coffee house coffees and prefer good old fashioned Denny’s style coffee.) The fusion food truck invites; the Jimmy Choo shoes window shopping, when I would never pay that much for a pair of shoes…all of it. None of it meshes with my rather simple life; but others seem to think it does.

    I mostly wear sweats I buy for $8.00 on 6th and Broadway and frequent the Santee Alley for the best buys. My opinion of most L.A. art would not motivate the wannabe Andy Warhol artists to continue. I am more into the rescued dogs that frequent these streets than the pretentious nouveau-nerd look of the Los Angeles up and coming.

    But I agree with you about the boycotts. I think regular boycotts COULD make a difference, no matter how much we struggled without consumerism during those times. And yes, I’m not going to be hypocritical and lie to say I don’t shop at WalMart occasionally, or like some things the corporations offer. But I try to balance my whims with my political views. That’s all I would hope others do too.

  5. Regardless of what inspired you to write the second paragraph, it’s exceptionally poised and lyrical. I still say, keep it and incorporate it into your literature. I do shop at Walmarts sometimes. The low prices on their household products are just too inexpensive to resist, and they aren’t completely evil. They are one of the only places that will second chance people with a poor work record and will hire the elderly struggling with little to no income to work as door greeters. It’s not much; nothing more than a bandaid, but it helps.

  6. Actually, my fictional writing is more centered on Central and South America. I tend to write cross cultural novels that incorporate a bit of Mexico, El Salvador and the U.S. And my current work in progress revolves around El Salvador’s coffee and the corruption surrounding it. But I thank you for the encouragement.

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