Shoulder to Shoulder Into the Fray
Today at lunch recess a whole passel of 4th grade girls came charging into the library, all talking and gesturing and full of righteousness. There were about a dozen of them but it seemed like more. They lunged at the scrap paper and the markers and the scissors, and a few of them flocked over to the computers and began furiously typing in large font, talking nonstop all the time about what they were going to do and how they were going to do it and how IMPORTANT it was.
I stayed out of their way. It seemed best. But I swung over to check on the two student volunteers who were stamping books, and asked one of them if she knew anything about what was going on.
She drew herself up proudly. "Know about it? I'm part of it!" I noticed that she hadn't been stamping at all, but quietly contributing to the general effort with her own markered sign. "The gym teacher told us that the boys could play basketball one way, but the girls had to play another way! It's not fair and we're going to do something about it!" [Turns out he apparently told the girls they weren't allowed to dribble. To dribble. I'd be pissed, too, and I don't even like sports.]
By this time the picket signs were taking shape. The girls used up all the staples and then went on to the tape. They were swiping my pencils to make the folded-paper handles stand up properly. "WOMEN WANT OUR RIGHTS," the signs read, and "WE TREAT YOU FAIR BUT YOU DON'T TREAT US FAIR." One girl asked me how to make a women's symbol and covered her sign with them, in all different colors. The indignant talk never faltered: "Can't believe he--" "--talk to the principal--" "--all go there together--" "Like Martin Luther King!"
Then they swept out, waving their picket signs, headed for the principal's office to set things right.
I didn't know whether to laugh or choke up with pride. They were so furious and excited (though they wouldn't have called it that) and full of purpose, and almost--no, no almost about it-- comically empowered. If they go on like this, the future might be in some pretty good hands after all.
Click here for an update to this post