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Takin' It to the Streets, Tongues Firmly in Cheeks

Takin' It to the Streets, Tongues Firmly in Cheeks

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Published by Jesse Hicks

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Published by: Jesse Hicks on Jun 15, 2010
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Takin' it to the streets, tongues firmly in cheekshttp://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05235/558229.stm1 of 38/27/2005 11:35 AM
Pittsburgh, Pa.
Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2005
 
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Takin' it to the streets, tongues firmly incheeks
Tuesday, August 23, 2005By Tony NormanElvis Costello once asked, "What's so funny 'bout peace, love andunderstanding?" Well, you'd almost have to be there to see for yourself.Last Friday, Tim Bodine, 24, led a procession of four sign-wieldingyoung men through several blocks of Downtown Pittsburgh. When theybegan their march from the Allegheny County Courthouse to the UnitedWay Building, the name tags that three of them wore over their mouthsheld firm in the afternoon heat.All four marchers carried signs with the letters "CAUC" emblazoned onthem. They wore sunglasses and matching white shirts, and theirliterature identified them as the Caucasian American UnderstandingCoalition.Bodine read aloud from a one-page manifesto at the United WayBuilding, captured on video by an unidentified associate of the groupwho looked uncomfortable being involved in any way."Can you hear me in the back?" Bodine asked, even though no crowdhad formed. That's how it is at lunch hour in Pittsburgh. Protesters willget the same cold shoulder aggressive beggars occupying the identicalpiece of real estate are entitled to."Those of you who brought bagged lunches, if you hold off until I'vefinished, that would be great," he said to indifferent passers-by.Gesturing to his three compatriots, Bodine said, "It's really inspiring tosee so many people willing to put themselves on the line, to walk severalblocks to change the world. You are all, if I may [say], thee bomb!"If there were any doubts about whether the protest was an ironic put-on,a la "Da Ali G Show," they evaporated when Bodine cheekily pretendedthat their numbers exceeded the digits on one hand. The Grove CityCollege student's fellow demonstrators were Jason Lancaster, 25, of Shadyside, and Doug Crissman and Peter Newton, 24, both of the North
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Takin' it to the streets, tongues firmly in cheekshttp://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05235/558229.stm2 of 38/27/2005 11:35 AM
Hills."When Peter and I formed CAUC, some people said we were tooidealistic. Work within the system, they said. They wanted us to temperour drive, our passion for change," Bodine said."They said given enough time and empty, symbolic gestures, the worldwill change itself. Well, I'm not about empty symbolism. And I knowyou aren't either. That's why we're here today. This may be a small step,but as they say, the journey of a thousand miles begins ..." At that point,he paused to ask where page two was."I apologize for forgetting the Scroll of Tolerance, but I know that eachof you carries that scroll in his or her Caucasian heart," he said. "I wantto leave you with this thought. It was either Voltaire or Stalin that saididealism is the last vice of youth. If being an idealist is wrong, then Idon't want to be right." Bodine then added "applause break,"unnecessary stage directions for a non-existent crowd.Later, Bodine said, "Some say we can never understand what it's like tostruggle in America. No matter how much rap music we listen to, theysay we will never understand. Well, I've listened to rap music. My fatherworked two jobs to support my family. He worked as a stockbroker andan investment banker, sometimes more than nine hours a day, to put foodon our table. Don't think I don't know suffering. Suffering is thehumanity we all share."After quoting the black Muslim activist he called "Malcolm Ten,"Bodine, who claims his heart is heavy with the "burden of responsibility" for ending white privilege, led his trio in a slow marchback to Grant Street.By the time they returned from their seven-block march, the tags overtheir mouths with the slogan "Ask me about my shame" had curled fromperspiration and exertion. They all looked demoralized, but in a fakeway.Without breaking character, Bodine admitted to a reporter he wasdisappointed by the turnout. "Some people thought we had a mixedmessage," he said disingenuously.There was some muttering among them, with Bodine hinting that theCAUC member responsible for ensuring that there were enough fliers tohand out had dropped the ball. "Yeah, somebody's probably going to getfired," Bodine said about the lack of literature to hand to the few curiouspeople who inquired.Eventually a clean-cut white guy wearing a crisp blue shirt and tie whohad listened patiently from the sidelines stepped forward with a questionabout the group's purpose."We're trying to apologize for years of white oppression," Bodine said."I know it doesn't make a nice sound bite, but ..."The young man shook his head and walked away before he was stoppedby a columnist who wanted to quote him in a story. "Um," he said,deciding whether to give his name. "Mike Jones," he said finally,
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