Resistance

Resistance is the secret of joy.
-Alice Walker

When I was a kid, my mom would take us on long road trips. These were the days before carseats and airbags, cell phones, radar detectors, or even mandatory seatbelts. I’d lay in my raggedy ann sleeping bag across the backseat, my sister would stretch out next to me across the floorboard and we’d fall asleep hot and sweaty with headlights flashing by, bumping down the highway. Sometimes we’d stop at a motel but other times my mom would just drive through the night until we got where we were headed. She had a portable CB radio that she’d connect to the cigarette lighter, and she’d listen to that to get news about traffic, accidents, the whereabouts of cops, and I guess, for entertainment. She got it from my grandfather, who was a hotshot pilot and a union man. The truck drivers were almost always male and I got to hear lots of colorful talk between the “10-4 good buddy”s and “breaker 1-9″s. My mom would fall in with a convoy of trucks so we could hear the same folks conversating for hours, and she’d often join in. I think her handle was “Fly Girl”.

I realized recently that my first idea of a culture of resistance, the idea that people outside the law could band together and fight back, came from these truck drivers sharing information with each other about the location of smokeys–police, of course. They’d be able to drive as fast as they wanted until someone would announce “bear at the 325” and everyone would slow down and sail past the cop, then speed up a few miles later, neat and easy. It must have clicked with me as a kid, because I never bought into the idea that the rules made sense just because.

How did you first learn about resistance? Have any stories? Did you have a parent go on strike? Fight a battle at school? Tell your tale in the comments, and maybe we can share our stories of resistance with the next generation…

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Resistance

  1. Inge

    Great entry. I’ll have to think back on it, myself, but reading this reminded me of this article I read about people in France hiding immigrant children in various safe houses to prevent deportation.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/15/world/europe/15iht-kids.1983189.html

    “”Who would have imagined that in France in 2006, we are finding ourselves hiding children from the police?” said Christine Pitiot, a mother of two, as she waited for the two boys outside school one recent afternoon to take them to their latest “safe house.”

    Hiding schoolchildren from the police is the newest chapter in France’s tormented immigration debate, following fatal fires in immigrant squats last summer, burning cars in rioting suburbs last November and clashes between immigrant youths and the police on Paris streets this spring.”

  2. Nice! I’m not sure I ever ‘discovered’ resistance at one particular moment, but I’m dead certain that part of it was the result of watching family and friends of color experience constant racial discrimination, while I was excluded. (I’m a hyper-privileged, cis, straight, tall, white, educated, american, male, but not all my immediate family is.) Worse and probably much more crucially, my white friends would commonly make racist comments to me, which forced me to recognize (if not come to terms with) white privilege at a relatively early age.

    Probably as a result of this, I think of my sense of ‘resistance’ as primarily developing in two ways. First, there’s the constant disillusioning that happens when people you thought were allies turn out, in fact, not to be; this is the sort of ‘clarifying’ moment that teaches me what is and what is not effective resistance, and what bases for relationship just can’t work if resistance is a criterion. Second, there’s the constant, inexorable, attempt to reach out beyond myself, to make new relationships with people in order to make new resistance possible; this largely muddies the waters, of course (so is not terribly clarifying in and of itself), but is also where most of my learning has come from.

    Thanks for this post, it made me think!

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