Jacob Lawrence, "Protest Rally" (1969)
Jacob Lawrence, Protest Rally (1969)
Can a Game Be Literature?

Mark's Pages

Right-wing students at the conference: out of place, baffled, alien, determined. A surprise to them that the organizers and every other participant were reds, were fresh from three months of antiwar work, and were speaking their own private subcultural jargon. So that when their token Asian spokeswoman transformed "people of color" into "colored person", referring to herself, there was a certain ripple of hostility through the crowd.

I was intrigued by their dependence on a standard-issue alpha male, a frat boy who fulfilled the usual crass stereotypes, swimming confidently among them like a shark among guppies. He arrived with the apparent belief that the event carried a similar seriousness to the Model U.N., something children play at for a type of learning exercise, not something adults do to change the world. It was a shock to him when his posturing, steeped in role-play, received short shrift. Equally a shock, I think, when the theatrical walkout of his delegation met with shrugs.

I remember feeling sympathy for their obvious sincerity. But also a certain jaded condescension over their extraordinary naïveté. They were babies. We were hardened. That was the truth, and it left the two groups with so few points of contact that in the end it seemed little loss to cut them loose.