In memoriam

Mom loved this quote, and had a copy of it hanging in our home.

Mom loved this quote, and had a copy of it hanging in our home.

This week is always a difficult week. I do not think it will ever get easier as the years go by. I have come to accept that.

You would think it would, because eventually it should get to the point where I’m like, “Oh, hey, see … mom would probably be dead by now anyway, because this is the year she would have turned 100.”

Not this year. This year, she would have turned 72. Still young. Young enough to be with us.

She always feels alive in my heart, just a step away. She died too young, and as a result, her life will always feel … incomplete.

She didn’t get to see her grandchildren grow from wee lil’ babies into the amazing teenagers they’re turning into. She didn’t get to see my sister go on a mission. She didn’t see me graduate college, or finally learn how to sew a straight seam, or how to can my own jam and bake my own bread. She didn’t meet the rest of her grandchildren. She didn’t watch my older brother’s career develop, or watch my other brother buy a house to raise a family in just a few blocks away from the house he grew up in.

I will go to her grave two days from now, on the anniversary of her deathday, and sweep the dust out of the cracks of her name.

I hate going to the grave. Nothing of her spirit, of the essence that made her her is there. There is none of her laughter or personality or wicked sense of humor. Nothing of her kindness or generosity of spirit or compassion. Nothing of the struggles she endured with bipolar or her bravery in overcoming for so long. Nothing of her talents at calligraphy and tole painting, nothing of her ridiculously over-the-top love of Christmas. Nothing of her devotion to her faith, nothing of her tears and heartache, nothing of her flaws, nothing of her.

I miss her somuch. She was my mother and she wasn’t always a perfect human being, but she was the perfect mother for me, and I miss her.

These days, twelve years past, it’s mostly it’s fine. Most of the year, I transmute the grief into positivity. I met this chick recently who was all, “You’re an atheist? How do you handle life after death?”

And I was all, “Well, I don’t,” and kinda laughed, because people get weird and intrusive about my grief.

But she got very serious and started talking about how when people had to deal with grief and end of life counseling (she’s a nurse or something), they need something to believe in.

So, first off, Greta Christina has a great piece on Alternet that addresses why the assumption that no belief in an afterlife renders this life devoid of meaning. But second, just because I don’t believe in a traditional (or nontraditional but still afterlife-oriented) afterlife doesn’t mean I don’t have a set of beliefs that help me deal with death.

For the body, I believe that it decomposes/ composts according to the laws of nature. Eventually, over the passage of years/ centuries/ eons it turns into soil/ stardust/ whathaveyou. For the “spirit” or, I guess, essence of the person — whatever neurons firing that make me “me” … well, I personally believe that when the lights go out and the neurons stop firing, that’s it. There is no more spirit or soul. We’re all just, for lack of a better term, organic robots.

However, I also think that we house our “souls” (sorry for such religious terminology, but our language has been shaped/ crippled by centuries upon centuries of societal stranglehold by religious institutions, and the shorthand “soul” is easily understood for the purpose of this discussion) in our art and culture, and our relationships and society, and our treatment of one another. So although the organic matter dies, our soul lives on in the memory of us that remains by those who survive us.

Consider Anne Frank — an ordinary girl, whose “soul” has been kept alight and shared through the stories and memories passed on about her. In this case, those stories and memories were recorded by her own hand. That’s not always the case — sometimes the stories and memories are shared orally, and passed down as old wives tales or parables or family history/ legend. Sometimes they’re rediscovered journals. Not all memories live on in big splashes: A lot of the memories that we carry and share are precious only to us and our families.

Probably not many people outside of my family line care about my great-great grandfather, who emigrated from Norway as a child after his parents converted to Mormonism. One of his siblings died in the crossing. A few of my relatives and I care, though, and one of my ancestors cared enough to interview my great great grandfather and write a biography of the man, which was self-published and is available to his descendants. I have a copy in my possession.

In this way, my great-grandfather continues to live on, his soul and personality still alive as his wisdom and experiences and sense of humor are shared and repeated and brought back to life from the pages of history to the lips of those living and breathing today.

That, to me, is the afterlife. That is the soul. And that is why I talk about my mom a lot. Because every time I share a memory of my mom, I am keeping the flame of her wonderful, compassionate, wry, clever, sarcastic, loving spirit alive.

I share her stories and wisdom with ease and candor, and take joy in reliving the happy memories of being raised by her. In the 12 years since her death, the sharp sting of loss has eased through most of the year, and it’s mostly a sense of nostalgia instead of painful grief.

But just now … right around the anniversary of her birthday and deathday … all I feel is weary and very sad. The grief is just as impossible and immediate as the first year.

Actually, I guess the second year.

The first year I was numb with disbelief and unable to cry. It was the second year things started getting emotionally devastating the week of.

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WPC Lecture Notes Series | Second Thursday Workshop | Redacted

I’ve had a stressful/ annoying few days. The facilitators of one of the Thursday workshops I attended in 2013 at the WPC-14 saw the tidied up lecture notes I originally posted a few years ago as part of a lecture notes series. I guess they saw the lecture notes regarding their workshop on 8/20/2015, three years after the original workshop had been posted. They contacted me asking me to remove the entry due to copyright violation. It kind of surprised me because I was pretty sure I hadn’t violated any copyright, and because I had properly credited them.

Apparently they believed I had recorded their lecture with a/v equipment. Again, surprise: Washington is a two-party consent state, and that’s against the law, so: No. Also, I think, against WPC regulations, so, again: No.

Also, a waste of my phone battery.

Plus, I studied Journalism, worked for the student newspaper, type an average of 80 wpm, and the WPC allowed laptops. I had no need for a recording device. I had me. I wish I could take it as a compliment to my writing and note-taking skills, but let’s face it: It’s been three years since the workshop in question. Unless they were recording us without permission for their research, their claim is ridiculous and un-provable. Memory is fallible. There’s a three year gap, and I know for a fact that I missed a lot of information in those workshops. It was frustrating.

But maybe it is illegal to post lecture notes? I’ve heard some rumblings in the field of copyright law about professors suing students for posting lecture notes online, so I looked it up. Right now, like a lot of copyright law, you’re generally safe as long as you’re not making any profit, which I am not. The ads seen on this WordPress site are because I am utilizing the free (for me) WordPress platform, which the WordPress company runs ads on to support the ability to provide a free blog platform. At least, that’s how I assume it works.

But still. I was cool with removing the entry. I did respect them as academics at the time they contacted me, and they seemed like nice enough people in the one (professional/ academic setting) I had met them in three years ago.

Plus, there are legitimate reasons for academics/ professors to be concerned about their lecture notes floating around online (students cheating/ plagiarism/ etc.). And when they originally contacted me all of 24 hours earlier, I did genuinely feel badly for overstepping my boundaries.

So I agreed to delete the text of the entry and edit it to reflect that, according to the wishes of the workshop facilitators — who would remain unnamed — I would be removing the detailed notes for Thursday’s workshop, along with an apology for overstepping my boundaries.

I chose to do that because it was efficient/ lazy/ low effort, and also it kept the lecture notes series complete and whole while honoring their wishes for anonymity.

I was in the midst of drafting a rather long entry detailing how I had come to the decision to post the lecture notes, the amusing shorthand mistakes I made that led me to doing deeper google research on the workshop in question, which had led to the lecture notes having the additional advantage of being supported by research (I abbreviated their research topic “SSS” in my notes, which was … confusing when I came back to them later), and an apology for overstepping my boundaries.

The apology basically acknowledged that they’d spent decades investing their lives into this research, and I’d just listened to an inspiring workshop and spent a few hours a week editing and cleaning up the lecture notes to anonymize the work shop participants. I was trying to honor them and amplify their voices, and had clearly overstepped my bounds in doing so, and I was sorry. The apology, like this entry, did not name names or reference the research or name-check the workshop in question. There were several other workshops that day — ah, the anonymity of being one in a crowd of many.

While I was drafting the entry, less than 5 hours after I responded to their most recent e-mail (and less than 24 hours after I responded their first one), I received yet another terse email from the facilitator of the workshop in question, telling me that deleting the original text of the entry and removing the tags, their names, and any reference to their work wasn’t good enough. She then threatened me with a lawsuit and told me that she was glad I could no longer afford to attend the WPC, and that I am a bad ally.

She also told me that it wasn’t about whether or not I was making money on this blog (i.e.: copyright infringement), it was about personal privacy: That this is about the personal rights of the individual and whether or not they were being recorded (which she wasn’t, as I had already assured her, multiple times — unless taking notes on a laptop now counts as recording someone), and whether they consented to their personal information being online.

She referenced (as she had multiple times) a vague WPC policy about privacy. I’m not entirely sure which one she means. I’ve combed the WPC site up and down and haven’t found a specifically worded privacy policy, although I’ve found many other policies, such as the Accountability and Taking Action and Mission and Values, as well as the Community Agreement, all of which are what inspired me to share my lecture notes, in the spirit of collaborative learning and sharing the information we learned at the conference with a wider audience. She did not provide the specific conference policy she was referring to in any of the 6 emails she sent over the 24 hour period.

It may be the Community Agreement one, which is why I edited my notes to remove the identifying information of any of the conference attendees when I posted the workshop notes. I assumed that the workshop facilitators would be proud to stand by their presentations. Unfortunately, because I did not post my lecture notes from the WPC until 6 months (in some cases up to a year after) after the conference itself, I had long since thrown away the handouts from the workshops, and could not find the contact information for most of the facilitators online — including the facilitators in question.

And, as I stated, as soon as the facilitators contacted me, I removed the entry from public view with the intent to edit it to completely remove the original text and replace it with a notation that the (anonymous) facilitators of the (unnamed) workshop had requested removal of the text, and issue an apology for overstepping my boundaries.

Honestly, I really did think that editing the original entry to entirely delete the text they objected to and replacing it with new text that in no way named them or their research would honor their wishes while retaining the integrity of placement in the lecture notes series and keeping everything orderly.

I admit I did not take into consideration that the facilitators in question are … advanced in years and perhaps not as familiar with how internet programs such as blog platforms work.

Even so, I was shocked and stunned by their reaction to what I thought was a very reasonable response. I responded in as timely a manner as I could while engaged with family activities they were interrupting. I locked down public access to the post and responded politely to their e-mails.

Yet they clearly expected me to drop everything without hesitation and respond unquestioningly and uncritically to their demands, bowing and scraping to their authority.

When I did not move fast enough to comply with their exact demands (deleting the entry rather than privatizing and editing it), they became litigious and insulting. Gleefully reveling in the fact that my economic class prevents me from partaking in the same academic opportunities they enjoy? Telling me that a real ally of the WPC would just comply with their demands without hesitation? Who does that?

I don’t want to die on this hill. Deleting the entry is not a battle I care about fighting. I have some … anxiety and mental health issues around organizing things. So I take some extra medication and schedule an extra therapy visit. Whatever. It really doesn’t matter to me in the long run, and it clearly does matter to them.

The edited entry that would have taken its place is also trashed, bc it was a lot more apologetic and even toned, and I’m feeling impatient and pissy right now with how quickly they stepped to pulling class and academic rank. I don’t need this level of stress in my life, and I don’t really want to waste the time and energy on this bs.

These classist elitist tone-policing academics who revel in the poverty of others have already e-mailed me 6 times in a 24 hour period, and have already conceded in that short time frame that this isn’t even about a copyright violation but about their discomfort with their research and name being mentioned on a non-academic public blog and threatened a lawsuit, all because I didn’t “snap to” and “fall in line” with their exact orders quickly enough.

At this point, the only logical conclusion I can draw is that they do not feel comfortable standing publicly by their research, in which case I am doubly happy to honor the wishes I was already acceding to.

Admittedly, my opinion on the quality of their research and their ability to separate academic rigor and emotional bias has taken a rather substantial hit over the past day, and I no longer feel comfortable endorsing them at all. Also my opinion on them as individuals. But they would probably say the same of me, so we’re all even.

So … Thursday’s second workshop lecture notes of the WPC conference that I attended three years ago have been removed at the request of the facilitators. The original entry was completely deleted, not merely edited. So that’s where we’re at.

~*~

Edit: I edited this entry a few days later to correct a few grammatical issues, and wanted to add a few thoughts on the anonymous scholar thing.

When these guys first contacted me, I was excited — as always — to have the opportunity to talk to fellow academics and equals (as I viewed them). I may not have a doctorate, but since I don’t subscribe to that whole degree valuation thing anyway, that doesn’t particularly matter to me. To me, a doctorate indicates that someone has a certain specialization of interest in a field — it does not mean I should automatically bow and scrape to them in all matters, or defer to them as an authority or my social and moral superior.

They were, naturally, reserved and standoffish in their language in the emails, yet polite and professional. Because we are strangers, because they were being professional, because they were irritated with me yet having to ask a favor of me. Although they were polite, and although I am well aware of the effect of projected ‘tone’ in email, I felt I had a reasonable sense of what they thought of me.

I had, after all, had the opportunity to observe them lecture at a workshop for an hour. My original notes on the lecture were peppered with observations on their interactions, (the blonde one stayed in the background, spoke so softly that I didn’t catch her name, and seemed apologetic about her presence at the conference — not sure if because of her race or gender; the woman of color was an older woman used to getting her way and leading the discussion, something of a steamroller in personality, and brought up her religious beliefs frequently, often with an evangelical tone).

It’s true they can read this blog to get a sense of my personality. I suspect that one of them might have the personality to put aside her hurt at our disagreement and do so with an academic, fair eye — although I suspect she would deem it not worth her time. The other, if she read my blog, I suspect would do so only in the hopes of finding some damning piece of evidence that fulfills her expectations about my character, and would quickly grow bored of the exercise and let it go because she has more important things to do.

Anyway, after the whole thing went down and they transitioned so quickly to threatening litigation and taunting me about my inability to enjoy the same opportunities as them, I copy-pasted the e-mails into a word document to work through them and try to figure out what their deal is.

As a note, emails are not considered private, so thank the gods I have no concerns there if they get any freak-out privacy concerns.

As I went through the emails, I realized part of the problem is the age difference. I recall the woman of color, the one leading the correspondence, as being rather elderly. When she was insistent that I “delete it entirely” and got angry about the “right to personal privacy and consenting to her name on the internet” it was the type of angry ranting that 70 year old tea party people who don’t know how to use the internet do. I don’t recall her being that old — I thought she was in her 50s or 60s — but I suppose anywhere over the half-century mark is old enough.

It is possible she didn’t understand that even just removing the post from “published” status would give it the appearance of being deleted, from her point of view, even though it would technically be a “draft” in my blog. Also, in a blog, you can restore “deleted” posts from the trashcan. It seemed clear from the way that they phrased their acceptance of my word that they didn’t actually believe I did not tape record them — so if they actually understand how the internet worked, why would they believe I deleted the blog post?

They had clearly signaled they believed me to be a dishonest person, even though I was doing my best to deal fairly and honestly with them while spending time with family and on a motorcycle trip. With the frequency of her emails, she was also signaling something else to me: That I needed to fall in line and acquiesce without question or hesitation to her social and moral authority in this situation. They have the doctorates, they have the education, and therefore they feel they have the right to dictate what the unwashed masses can and cannot say.

This definitely one of the reasons I decided not to pursue a doctorate path, despite the offers of sponsorship from some of my professors during my final years at Evergreen. I mean, the other huge contributing factors were the stress on the family and the massive student loan debt accrued through higher education.

But the ridiculous degree valuation — this ivory tower academia sense of insularity, that knowledge is to be hoarded instead of shared. This is why I rejected becoming officially one of their peers in academia. I know I have the intelligence to go toe to toe with most doctorates (in the humanities — I don’t pretend to be able to hold court with scientists!); I don’t need a piece of paper to tell me that. If an academic needs a piece of paper to recognize that in someone … that’s a problem. That tells me way more about the supposed academic than it does about me.

I still do not understand where these particular team of professors were coming from — I did feel their research was worthwhile, and if I was an academic with similar research, I would have been happy to stand publicly by it and see it discussed by everyday people. But then again, I do believe that education should be readily accessible to everyone. I frown on ivory-tower academia and disapprove of the economic restrictions and financial debt that are crushing the dream of higher education.

I must accept the cold reality that we are diametrically morally opposed: I believe in collaborative learning, and they believe in restricting information. I believe in freedom of information, it would seem that they do not. I believe in treating all people, regarding of economic situation or education level, equally. Their treatment of me clearly signaled they felt my economic situation and education level made me their inferior.

Then I followed their email address to the website of the college they teach at and a whole new dimension to it opened up. The totally religious lady who was constantly evangelizing her religion at the WPC? She’s Catholic! Dude! They’re Catholics, teaching at a private Catholic university for religious interests! Of course they don’t want their research associated on the blog of a dirty filthy atheist, we’re gross.

Now I’m just amused at the whole thing. Religion is funny and makes people act in weird ways.

… At least, I hope that’s it. Religious discrimination sucks balls, but at least it’s better than wanting the lecture notes removed from the blog due to classism and ivory tower academic insularity.

Because their copyright claim on the lecture notes is debatable at best, especially once I complied with their demands (and then they were just being controlling about how exactly I structured the ensuing content on my blog) and absolutely no-one, anywhere in the USA, has the “right” to have one’s name removed from the internet. You can like it or dislike it, but that’s the way it is.

Anniversary Rally for Medicare and Social Security | Seattle | #blacklivesmatter

So today my son and I had the opportunity to go up to Seattle and listen to Bernie Sanders speak at the Westlake Center in Seattle, where a rally to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Social Security and the 50th anniversary of Medicare was being held. We were pretty excited, and I thought it would be neat for my son to feel the energy of a like-minded crowd at a massive political rally.

We arrived about an hour before the event started, so we grabbed some lunch at the Westlake Center eatery first. Then we worked our way through the crowd, taking handouts and giving donations to campaigns and causes we believe in. I bought my son a #Fightfor15 t-shirt, and he picked out a #blacklivesmatter button flair for my purse.

Then 1 pm rolled around and the crowd started thickening up. We found this little playplace area with a one of those metal spider/ climby thingies, and Kidling swarmed his way up to the top so he could actually see the stage.

The rally started off with some musical numbers by local artists. First the Raging Grannies, who I am not familiar with, then Daniel Pak and Geo Quibuyen, two more local musicians activists I had never heard of, and finally Jim Page. I’m afraid I’m not very into the the up-and-coming music scene … I’m pretty hard of hearing and not very musically inclined. So none of these acts were familiar to me — but they were all pleasant to listen to and did a good job of warming up the crowd.

Then we had the speakers. My favorites were Kshama Sawant of the Seattle City Council; Marcelas Owens, a Youth leader of the grassroots Washington CAN! movement; and Lynne Dodson, the Secretary Treasurer of the Washington State Labor Council/AFL-CIO.

Sawant and Dodson in particular were great — they really warmed up the crowd and spoke to the need for the people of America to reclaim their political voices from the corporations and billionaire elite. They both referenced the history of labor and civil rights movements in the USA, and the reality that what benefits we do enjoy were not handed to us by the political and business elite of this country, but rights the American people earned through collective action and protest movements.

On a personal note, I was even more inspired by the fact that oft-marginalized voices dominated the stage. Sawant, an Indian American woman. Gerald Hankerson of the NAACP, a black man and former felon.  Heather Villanueva from the Senior Community Strength Organizer, SEIU 775, a Hispanic woman. Rebecca Saldana, the Executive Director of Puget Sound Sage, another powerful voice for change representing women, people of color, and minority communities.

Kshama Sawant during the #Fightfor15 campaign.

Kshama Sawant during the #Fightfor15 campaign.

The voices of oft-marginalized communities far outnumbered the white male voices at today’s rally, and that was a really exciting and moving thing. Additionally, almost every single speaker voiced support for the #BlackLivesMatter movement, referenced tomorrow’s anniversary of Michael Brown’s death, and noted the need for conscious inclusivity as we move forward in building grassroots community movements calling for workers rights, removing corporate money from politics, and ending police brutality and corruption.

They were historically literate voices, too; referencing historical labor and civil rights movements and the rights gained by American protest movements. Those historical civil rights movements have largely been remembered as headed by male voices, with the female activists and activists of color overwhelmingly silenced in the official histories, so it was a wonderful and moving thing to see so many voices from so many communities represented, united in championing the rights of the American workers.

Finally, the end of the rally came, and Bernie Sanders made his way to the podium to speak.

He got about 5 words out, and then two women rushed the stage and took the mic from him. They identified themselves as the co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement, and said they would not let Bernie Sanders speak until they had their say.

First they requested 4.5 minutes of silence to honor Michael Brown, promising that Bernie Sanders could speak when the 4.5 minutes were up. I’m upset to report that the crowd didn’t respond well to this request, and there were quite a few people yelling variations of, “Bitch!”, “Shut up!”, “Nobody cares!”, and “Get off the stage, asshole!”

I was surprised and dismayed by the interruption, too, but I didn’t feel their request for a moment of silence was out of line. At that point, I was also sympathetic to their actions, viewing it as free speech/ democracy in action, so a pretty cool moment. They felt — fairly or unfairly — that their voices were being silenced and not represented due to arbitrary distinctions, and they took action to draw attention to their movement and bring their equal voice to the situation.

After the 4.5 minutes of silence to honor Michael Brown, though, they didn’t cede the mic. Instead, they gave a little speech condemning the white bourgeoisie Seattle liberal establishment as liberal faux-progressive racists, then insisted that Bernie Sanders needed to apologize for how he handled a similar interruption at the Netroots Nation rally … but they wouldn’t give him the mic in order to address their concerns.

See, at this point I started losing sympathy for their chosen method of communicating their frustrations. I could definitely understand their frustration with the status quo, and their sense of feeling silenced and disenfranchised … but I think their protest/taking of the stage would have been more effective and recruited more allies to their perspective if after the 4.5 minutes of silence they requested in honor of Michael Brown, they had ceded the mic back to Sanders and allowed him to publicly respond to their concerns.

Sanders waited patiently off to the side for the entire 30 minutes they controlled the stage. He honored the 4.5 minutes of silence, and even lifted his hand in solidarity. Additionally, he was the final speaker following a roster of people of color and women, almost all of whom had mentioned #BlackLivesMatter, the anniversary of Michael Brown’s death, and the necessity for this workers rights movement to be inclusive of all voices.

So the BLM contingent wasn’t exactly being ignored or silenced in this rally. People of color (generally speaking) and black voices (specifically) were front and center throughout the day, and I think the protesters who rushed the stage and completely prevented Sanders from speaking may have ultimately done more harm than good to their cause, which is upsetting because it’s a valid and reasonable cause that should have allies.

Instead, the protesters representing themselves as speaking for the BLM movement not only refused to leave the stage, they also refused to let Sanders speak or respond to their demands. I agree with the #blacklivesmatter movement, and support them. I didn’t even mind that they stormed the stage, initially. It seemed perfectly reasonable for them to ask for 4.5 minutes of silence before letting Sanders speak.  I was much more disturbed when it became apparent that they had no plans to let the rally continue, and that their true intention was to silence Bernie Sanders and prevent him from speaking. By preventing Sanders from speaking AT ALL, they clearly alienated a lot of potential allies in the crowd.

EDIT: In discussing the event later with my husband, he suggested that perhaps the women who rushed the stage felt … unsafe and trapped on the stage by the language hurled at them, and perhaps reluctant/ resistant to giving into the demands of the angry crowd who was fulfilling their expectations of sexist, racist tone policing.

On a personal note, I was really upset by the language of the other people in the crowd when it became apparent that Bernie Sanders would not be able to speak. They were screaming some incredibly ugly, violent, and sexually charged invective at these women.

One young boy sitting up by my son began to chant, “All lives matter,” apparently unaware or unconcerned that this slogan was started by white people who are uncomfortable discussing the reality of the disparate impact of racism and are in denial about the disproportionate amount of murders happening to people of color due to police brutality and institutionalized racism.

He was cheered on by a woman in a black t-shirt who identified herself as a reporter; and the two of them actually chanted this hateful slogan in between yelling phrases like, “Shut up, bitch,” and “Get off the stage, whore,” during the requested 4.5 minutes of silence to honor Michael Brown. It was really nauseating.

People in the crowd randomly broke out in screams and boos, too. People standing next to me kept screaming for them to shut up and get off the stage, and yelling encouragements for the rally organizers to forcefully kick them off the stage or punch them in the face. It was incredibly disturbing and upsetting to be surrounded by a pulsating crowd of white people screaming sexualized and violent insults at two black women.

There were a few of us sprinkled throughout the crowd trying to hush the viciousness — saying, “Let them speak,” and, “Black lives matter,” but we were definitely in the minority and out-shouted by the people who were furious that Sanders couldn’t speak.

There were black people and people of color in the crowd, too, and it was heartbreaking to see the way they pulled in on themselves as the angry whites around them hurled violent words and hatred at the two women interrupting the rally.

An older black woman near me who had been enjoying the speeches and speaking happily with the two white retirement-age people through most of the rally spent the last 30 minutes staring silently at the ground as her recent conversational companions screamed for the #blacklivesmatter protestors to get off the stage and go back to the ghetto.

A young Indian man with long hair and ruddy brown skin who had been bouncing around standing on the benches and happily taking pictures a little earlier sat down with his shoulders hunched, pulling into himself as the whites around him turned ugly.

A brown-skinned Latino toddler who had been playing under the playground equipment started to cry and ran to her parents.

The white people shouting at the “bitches” and “assholes” on the stage didn’t seem to notice the people of color in the crowd; recent participants in the rally suddenly on edge with the swelling of racial tension. It was heartbreaking to see the way people screamed insults and threats at the women who rushed the stage, and I was both disappointed and frightened by the anger of the crowd. It seemed outsize to the disappointment of not hearing Sanders speak.

The message of the day prior to the #blacklivesmatter protesters rushing the stage had been one of inclusivity and grassroots movement. It had been a call to progressive coalitions to join hands in true American tradition and take back the voice of the people from the corporate elites and billionaires trying to silence us and buy out our democracy. There was a sense of shared purpose and solidarity.

After the #blacklivesmatter protesters rushed the stage and prevented Sanders from speaking, that sense of solidarity was shattered. It could have been regained if they had let Sanders speak after the 4.5 minutes of silence — their voices would have been honored, and Sanders could have still addressed the waiting crowd. Win/win.

Instead, by silencing him completely, they splintered the solidarity that had moments before united the crowd. They angered a lot of potential allies. Worst of all, I have the horrible suspicion that they erased so much of the goodwill and outreach built up by the many community organizers and people of color who had spoken before they rushed the stage.