The Trump Protest in Las Vegas

Taking On the Donald

Almost a thousand of us braved the 110 degree heat yesterday to protest Trump’s visit to Las Vegas. He came to support our total tool of a Senator – Dean Heller – who is considered to have the most at-risk Senate seat. Other celebrated Republican candidates in attendance included Adam Laxalt (running for Governor) and Danny Tarkanian (running for Congress). Both of these men have been banking off their family names: Laxalt being the grandson of Nevada royalty, Senator Paul Laxalt, and Tarkanian being the son of the infamous UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian and current city councilwoman Lois Tarkanian. Ideally all three men’s political careers will come to an end in November. Rumor had it that the cost of attending this GOP event was $25,000 per person.

Vibe on the Street

Protesters began assembling at the Suncoast Hotel/Casino at 10:00 to greet Trump who arrived at 11:40 after leaving a private event at someone’s home (possibly Sheldon Adelson who lives about a mile away from the Suncoast). While most passing vehicles who responded to the protest did so in a positive manner, giving a thumbs up, a fist up, or honking their horn in support, about one out of ten responders presented their middle finger or flew a Trump banner from their car or motorcycle. The crowd began thinning out after Trump’s arrival and only about 150 of us stayed to see him leave for his final venue at a roundtable discussion at the South Point Hotel/Casino.

Conditions at the Event

Despite the efforts of a few counter-protesters, the event was peaceful. The protest organizers were strict about ensuring that attendees stayed out of the street and off of the Suncoast’s property. However, Suncoast security and Metro cops were calm and allowed protesters to stand on the grassy area of the Suncoast property that was between the sidewalk and the parking lot so protesters could enjoy the shade provided by the pine trees and not succumb to heat stroke. Chilled bottled water was in liberal supply thanks to the event organizers. For such a hot day, all things transpired exceptionally well.

Enjoying the shade!

Older Crowd

The protesters were a diverse group. At least a third of the crowd was over the age of 50 – many were over 65 – and less than a quarter of the crowd was under 25. Every ethnicity was represented. While many of the organizers were young, I was dismayed with the lopsided demographics of the participants. It is critical that younger people take on the mantle of this cause and especially that they get out to vote. After all, it is their future we are fighting for.

My “older guy” husband willing be turning out to vote in November.

Why Bother Protesting?

What exactly inspires people to spend the better part of a day holding up a sign and group chanting their beliefs? In short, protesters are determined to demonstrate their support for a cause to the government, bring public attention to an issue, and commune with others who share their convictions. While protesting rarely brings immediate results – particularly peaceful protests – research shows that protests eventually deliver change.

My daughter caught a picture of me at the protest when she did a drive by!

Not My First Rodeo

From anti-nuclear protests to actions against the Reagan administration, I have been hitting the streets, the UNLV campus, and the Nevada Test Site since the mid-1980s to march for my beliefs. And as long as social, political, economic, and environmental injustice remains – and my health permits – you will find me taking non-violent action to make the world a better place for my children, grandchildren, and humanity in general.

The video shows Trump and his entourage leaving the Suncoast.

Ageism: The Equal Opportunity Discriminator

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For the first time in a long time, I was the youngest person in the room. At age 56, this is an increasingly rare occurrence. The event that placed me in this odd situation was the first meeting I attended for the Retired Public Employees of Nevada (RPEN). This is my new retirement union, so it was no surprise that at 56 I was the youngest attendee.

Most of us have been guilty of undervaluing, disrespecting, and marginalizing the elder members of our community at sometime in our lives via rude and hurtful comments, outright discrimination, and/or deliberate marginalization. I grew up in the 1970s by the retirement community Leisure World in southern Orange County, which my high school peers nicknamed “Seizure World.” Randomly, my cousin and his wife moved to Leisure World within a year of meeting the minimum age requirement of 55. They jokingly rationalized the move, citing that it would prevent their adult children from moving back home with them. Even now, I am guilty of savagely profiling that ever-decreasing population of people older than myself. Currently, I live less than a mile from the retirement community of Sun City in Las Vegas. When a slow or otherwise poor driver is in my neighborhood, as a reaction I assume that they will be turning off on Del Webb Boulevard, the entrance to Sun City, when in reality it is usually a young or middle age driver illegally engaged with their cell phone.

I recently read the November 20, 2017, article in the New Yorker by Tad Friend, “Why Ageism Never Gets Old.” Friend notes that ageism – especially toward women – has been an ongoing drama in Hollywood, but as the article points out, Silicon Valley is an even worse offender, where the old adage – “don’t trust anyone over 30” – painfully holds true. The article references Vinod Khosla, a venture capitalist who stated, “people over forty-five basically die in terms of new ideas,” to which I say, “Bullshit.” But this is what we are up against. What ever happened to respecting our elders or at least valuing their contribution?

Devaluation in the workplace is a huge issue, especially in a time when people are expected to delay retirement by working through their sixties. While some of us have jobs and careers that support this new normal, for most of us it is unreasonable and frankly impossible. People with physically demanding jobs have often destroyed their bodies by their mid-forties. In other occupations, management is eager to ditch older, higher paid employees for those who are just starting out. I have seen this situation in my previous workplace, where older teachers – whose salaries are double that of newer teachers – get reassigned to less desirable positions in an effort to encourage them to take an earlier retirement than they had planned. BAM!

Even when you don’t feel particularly old, you have been profiled. My first ageism slap came when I changed teaching positions – leaving a tech-based magnet school for an inner city high school. I went from a position where I had garnered respect from both students and colleagues to a place where I was just an old white lady. It hurt, and it was hard to reestablish myself. Months later, I found myself back on stable ground, but it took patience and perseverance. I had to prove my professional competence and my commitment to my new community of learners. The experience left its mark. I was battle-scarred, but not broken.

On a daily basis, countless individuals are subjected to racism. I have personally experienced antisemitism and sexism. And many of us currently feel like we are living in an era of anti-intellectualism. What we all have in common is a current or impending battle against ageism. It is a guaranteed experience for all of us who pass their 50th birthday, and in some professions it reveals itself even earlier. In the end, it is a status we must all endure.

 

Thanksgiving: A New Tradition

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Cherished holiday traditions should always hold a place in our hearts, but even greater joy is found in opening ourselves to new customs and practices.

As a classroom teacher, Thanksgiving was the hardest holiday to host. It was mad work to get everything done in the 24 hours between 3:00 Wednesday and 3:00 Thursday, even when side dishes were in part supplied by guests. When my adult children started hosting at their homes a few years ago, I was beyond relieved.

This year, my son and his wife volunteered to host the holiday at their new house. Counting kids, there were over 40 people in a 1500 square foot home. Everyone was welcome: family, friends, friends of friends, co-workers, and neighbors. The weather was beautiful and unseasonably warm for Las Vegas – a record-breaking 80 degrees – so tables were set up on the patio outside. The adults feasted, while the kids played on two bouncy houses in the backyard. At the end of the evening, after everyone made up their to-go plates, I looked at all the leftovers before I departed and felt sorry for my son and his wife. What will they do with all that food? Around 9:30 PM, I saw the following group text message.

“I wanted to say happy thanksgiving and thank you for coming over earlier. The L…s were very happy to host such a great group. This message won’t find all my guests so thank someone I missed for me please. I wanted to inform everyone that after feeding our whole group and packing out as much to go with everyone as possible, Steve and I took the leftovers and some plates and went and fed 30+ more people down off Washington and D. You know the spot under the 15. It was very nice to get to take an hour and serve some people that certainly didn’t wake up today with a feast on the schedule. I’ll tell you what- I’ll never worry about the over cooking this family does again. So easy to find people that are hungry. Sleep well family and friends. Blessed as we are. And know you just helped make a couple dozen people feel a lot better on their Thanksgiving.”

I responded back to him, saying how proud and impressed his father (my ex-husband) – who passed away about two years ago – would have been. To which my son responded, “Things are easier when you’re familiar. He did show us how to be charitable.” Indeed, one of my daughter’s earliest memories is of her dad directing her to take off her winter coat and give it to a little girl on the street. She resisted initially, but her dad reassured her that she would get a new one. The experience made an indelible impact on her.

This morning, I spoke to my son about this gracious act. He mentioned his surprise that the average age of the homeless people he met last night were his age: mid-thirties. Some had mental health issues, others had drug problems, and some just had a large measure of bad luck coupled with the lack of an adequate support system. We discussed the impact that a few bad decisions could have on an individual’s life.

Holidays are a time when we remember and mourn for all the loved ones who are no longer present in our lives. While it is important to reflect back upon our happy memories, it is equally important to always look forward. My son is anxious to host Christmas at his house this year and again share the leftovers with his neighbors who live under the I-15 bridge. His new holiday tradition will certainly have an impact on how his children chose to interact with the world around them.