Why protest an RV show?
Why protest anywhere? The point is to reach as many people as possible to have the biggest impact. Besides, some of those recreational vehicles are bigger and nicer than my house. Who wouldn’t want to fart around inside a $500,000 recreational vehicle?
Protest is appropriate anywhere and nowhere. The venue is simply a means, not usually the point of the protest. Sometimes protest sites are symbolic such as the location Mike Brown was killed. Sometimes protest venues are to reach certain demographics of people, like Rams fans. If a protest is conducted in an uninhabited place, it’s not a protest. If a protest shits in the woods but no one hears it, it’s not a protest. I bet nearly every single person at the RV show heard about the protesters being present. Run for your lives!
So, why bother a bunch of outdoorsy folks with an affinity for road trips extolling the virtues of LED lights? These folks make as much and as little sense as anyone. This argument can be made for any event targeted by protesters. We protest because we live in a free society. If you have to make sense of it, think about why 97% of travelers along Route 66 in 2012 were white.
Endemic to the RV culture is Route 66, “the Mother road”. Highways, including Route 66, have not traditionally been safe havens for racial equality. Enter The Green Book in the 1930’s (a/k/a The Negro Travelers’ Green Book”).
It listed hotels, attractions and retail establishments that would serve African Americans when discrimination was widespread and unhidden. Every Green Book cover bore a quotation from Mark Twain: “Travel is fatal to prejudice.” Prejudice can only breed in isolation. The Green Book became obsolete after the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964. Unfortunately, injustice and racism along this highway and highways zig-zagging the United States still exists. We’ve all seen blatantly racist “American Owned” signs that serve only to divide people.
The RV show gave Movement protesters an opportunity to interact with people we typically wouldn’t get to mingle with. Did we change anyone’s already cemented view about whether racism is still a problem? Probably not. Do the knuckleheads who say protesters just need to get a job still not understand that lots of people don’t work on Saturday? Yes. They still don’t get it, and sadly never will unless it touches them personally.
We did force people to think about why the protesters were there, even if it annoyed the bejesus out of them. I seem to always get stuck at the table next to the loud dude talking on his cell phone at a restaurant. To be in public is to be annoyed by people. Ask anyone who travels at all. Annoyance from a single self-absorbed guy is one thing. Having to wait an extra ten minutes to get someplace because citizens want a fair justice system is frankly okay by me. I feel the same way when I sit on the highway waiting for emergency vehicles to remove an accident scene. Sometimes someone else’s time trumps whatever I’m doing. I can choose whether to lose my mind about it.
Complex issues like systemic racism can be hard to explain. They seem irrelevant to people who accept the status quo because the status quo has always worked for them. Protesters put their views on display, risking rejection, ridicule and hostility. And in this particular circumstance, arrest. We are real people taking up real space and real time. Protests don’t immediately fix anything, but they invite discussion and eventually change.