On day 47 of the Occupy Wall Street protest, a movement that started in New York City when a group of patriotic Americans took over Zuccotti Park to protest corporate greed and corruption, I took my nine-year-old to witness democracy in action. My young son went against his wishes and fought me the entire subway ride downtown from our comfortable doorman-protected apartment building.
I decided to brave the alleged assaults, rapes, chaos and crazy being reported by mainstream tabloids and join the peaceful protesters with my youngest child at the makeshift tents where hundreds have gathered from sun up to sundown because we are part of the 99 percent of Americans affected by the Great Recession. As a working class family of writers, we live in the grotesque gap between the haves and the have-nots, a gap that has grown insanely large since the 1970's. Consider that according to the Congressional Budget Office, between 1979 and 2007, the top income of the top 1 percent of Americans grew by almost 300 percent. During the same period, 60 percent of middle class incomes saw their scale grow by a paltry 40 percent. Wall Street was bailed out—and to adopt a popular phrase, main street was left holding the check.
To be clear, while my family may be part of the income 'have not' we have plenty of wealth in the area of spirit and justice and desire to live in a more equitable society.
Teaching my son history that cannot be learned in textbooks is important to me as a parent. This latest history lesson became more urgent one morning two weeks ago, when during our morning ritual of breakfast with the news, I casually mentioned to him that we'd be going downtown to show solidarity with the protesters. "We are part of the 99 percent," I told him. To my shock, my son shrieked, declaring with a firm attitude that only a pre-teen can muster, "There is no way I am going to Occupy Wall Street mom, you have gone mad!"