May Day in the Hood

by John Reimann, North Star editorial board member on May 1, 2017

So, I was walking down the street in my neighborhood, posting these leaflets (English and Spanish) for a May Day event in the neighborhood park. Got my backpack on, my cap to shield the sun, my stapler in hand. I’m starting to think, “what am I doing this for?”, feeling like Don Quixote. Then two young brothers come walking towards me, smoking a joint. I stop them and give them a leaflet.

“You know about May Day – international workers’ day?” I ask.

After a few words, the one young guy gets going. “We’re the original people, the Hebrews, brought over here. You can call us whatever – Africans, n____s, slaves. We’re the ones who built this country ourselves. Built it from scratch and never got nothing. We’re disrespected…” He talked a bit more on this subject. “As long as nothing is done about it, as long as we don’t get no reparations, nothing is going to change.”

I agreed. “Yeah, you know the Three Musketeers?” I said.

“Yeah. One for all and all for one,” he said.

“Exactly. That’s how we have to think.”

Then he went on another riff, this time about the 1%. (You have to remember, he’d been smoking a joint.) At some point, I got in a few words about the “international working class and we have to all stick together, support each other.”

Off he went again, but this time he was saying, “I appreciate you. Your words will not be forgotten.”

I told him the same. That I hoped I’d see him on May Day up in Bella Vista Park but if I never see  him again, I will remember this conversation. I said that I’d been doing this a long time, but it was conversations like this that kept me alive “in here” (and I patted over my heart) and “up here” (tapping my head).

“That’s for real,” he said as he put in his gold over his teeth. In the end, he took a bunch of leaflets to put up in his apartment building.

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