we decorated the middle school with yellow ribbons and listened to bette midler's "from a distance," playing out through the loudspeakers of the assembly room/gym as we tried to sit quietly on the lacquered wood floor. that was my introduction into the workings of a protest, happening shortly after the beginnings of operation desert storm.
i've seen--and sometimes been a part of--groups with something to say since then. i remember miles of bicyclers riding north together on sixth avenue; we watched them from the roof garden in aida's chelsea apartment building, knowing they were protesting the republican national convention with an anti-bush ride. i also remember cacerolando--banging with spoons on gemma's pots and pans--in the tiny barcelona plaça de rius i taulet, in the wake of the bombings at madrid's atocha station.
mexico is known for being a city of protests, and yesterday, en route to the zócalo, i watched representatives of the movimiento de los 400 pueblos protest in their now famous way: nude, or in underwear, symbolic of being stripped of their rights. they come to mexico city from their farming villages in veracruz, crying out against a governor's illegal appropriation of land, and the disappearance or imprisonment of many of the movement's members. for years now they've marched, asking for justice, and advocating their cause with banners and fliers and their bare, brown skin.
some think it's pitiful. some think it's ingenious. some think it's futile and some think it's essential. i've heard it called laughable and courageous, an worn out posture and an admirable institution. maybe it's all of that; i don't know enough to say. what i did see yesterday was as peaceful, though, reminding me a little of the intent of yellow ribbons.