Saturday, May 29, 2010

Arizona- Everyone’s Injustice

Posted by Priya

Today I was privileged to participate in making my voice heard on main campus during a demonstration in Red Square. Organized by the UW chapter of MECHA, a few hundred students gathered to oppose the myriad of racist Arizona initiatives and spread awareness about the effects these laws have on all of us. Some of the phrases being chanted included "education not deportation," "Si Se Puede" and "Mr. Obama, please don't deport my mama!" The location of the protest was appropriate, as not only is Red Square one of the most frequented areas on campus, it is also right outside of UW President Mark Emmert's office. Armed with megaphones, a diverse group of speakers, including students, Seattle Public School teachers, and UW employees provided words of inspiration, rage, and passion. The crowd consisted of a sea of mostly brown faces, an uncommon occurrence on a campus where Caucasians make up 50% of the undergraduate student population, and even more of a percentage when graduate students, staff and faculty are taken into account. Unfortunately (but not surprisingly) this population was largely missing from the demonstration. The president of the UW Black Student Union chapter spoke at the march, representing BSU's support and showing solidarity for both the cause and MECHA. She summed it up when she quoted Dr King during her speech: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

This is exactly why everyone should be concerned with what is happening in Arizona, because it is a reflection on all of us, whether we fit the targeted description of "illegal" or not. We can't just think about this as someone else's problem, and breathe a sigh of relief because this time the group we identify with has been overlooked- we must realize that our group could be next. As UW African American Studies professor John Walters used to say in his classes, the success of the civil rights movement could not have achieved the success it did without the participation of "good black people, good brown people and good white people…" I am reminded of white participants such as Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner who were murdered in Mississippi in 1964 while registering black voters during Freedom Summer. Just because I am not of Latin descent doesn’t make me feel any more disconnected to this issue. This is my issue, because when my friends or family or colleagues or cohort are targeted, then I am as well. When I stood there in Red Square today, amongst a predominantly Latin population, I did not feel like an outsider because our outrage and desperation to do something and make our voices be heard was a commonality that bonded us. And in that brief moment, I actually felt connected to a UW campus community for once.

Photos courtesy of MEChA de UW:

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