The common sense of a socialist trucker in Boston

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“Defend Moslems. Stop Trump.”

He’s not shouting or holding up placards. Just sitting atop a green box by the Park Street Station at Boston Common, hands clasped around knees drawn up to his body. Wearing a bicycle helmet, purple rimmed reflector sunglasses, black t-shirt and shorts, sneakers.

“Stop racism,” he says to no one in particular.

I turn back to talk to him, and later notice the posters on the wall a few feet away from where he’s sitting. Fight for Socialism. Rent Control. Fight Fascism.

His name is Sean. He yanks off the bicycle helmet and sunglasses when I ask him why he’s wearing them. He’s looks young but his hair is white, and he has steady brown eyes. “I’m not trying to hide,” he explains. “The sun’s very bright.”

That it is. One of the last days of summer, a lovely afternoon. Hot in the sun, cool in the shade. Reminds me of Karachi winters.

He’s a trucker. A regular, tattooed trucker who plies his route all around the Boston area, breaking the stereotype about truckers being right-wing. He’s into skateboarding. He has a girlfriend and a social life. But on a day off, he has chosen to come to this public park with his three posters. He fist-bumps people who stop to talk to him if they are friendly. He stands up to those who aren’t. They tend to back off. He isn’t big but he looks strong and purposeful.

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A portable and modest, but mind-expanding library.

By the wall rests an unassuming white plastic bucket. He pulls out a copy of Jacobin magazine, and a few books to show me: The New Jim Crow, Black Reconstruction in America, Lucy Parsons: American Revolutionary.

A little cardboard sign in the bucket marked “Donations” has yielded just a dollar. He’s not trying to make money. His girlfriend suggested he ask people for donations so he can buy more books. One book he’s going to get on my recommendation is the illustrated version of A People’s History of USA by one of his heroes, Howard Zinn.

There are also a couple of booklets by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) – he’s a member, wears their badge on his t-shirt. “But I’m not here on anyone’s behalf. This is something I’m doing on my own.”

Why?

“To raise awareness. We have to stop Trump…” he breaks off to call out to a man who flashes him a V-sign, “Stay strong brother.”

“I’m just doing what I can.” A bi-racial couple walks by and looks at us curiously. “Support feminism,” Sean says. They smile and give him a thumbs-up.

“I use my white male privilege to speak up for what’s right,” he tells me, punching the air.

Like many Americans, Sean was catalyzed into action by Trumpism. “Moslems, black people, brown people, they’re all under attack by racists, white supremicists, capitalists.”

He’s excited to learn I’m from Pakistan – the country of one of his heroes, Malala Youzfzai. He has been a socialist since age 16. How did that happen? He was skateboarding with his friend, a Puerto Rican who had a “Got Marx” sticker on his helmet (“Like, ‘Got milk’). Sean initially made fun of him. “I told him, ‘Marx! Karl Marx? You’re crazy, you’re a Commie!’ but he said no, you don’t understand. He was my friend, and I believe in logic, so I said ok show me what it means, explain.”

“My friend drew a picture with little dots representing the workers, and a big dot representing the boss. He showed that there are more workers and they’re being oppressed, and they have to collectively, democratically decide what’s best for them, they have to tell the boss hey, you have to give us a livable wage. After he explained that to me, I said this is common sense. Every worker should be able to collectively bargain. Since then I’ve been a socialist.”

It’s not easy being a socialist in America but there’s a fair amount of support. As Sean puts it, “Bernie started the flood and Trump lit the fire.”

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2 Responses

  1. I know Sean. He’s a genuine man. He impresses the sh__ out of me. Big heart, big man.

    Like

  2. He’s an inspiration. Thank you for interviewing him.

    Like

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