The last anti-war protest I attended left me feeling both disconnected from other marchers whom I expected to get inspiration from and disenchanted about the likelihood of stopping a war with Iraq.
For a while I couldn’t figure out why I felt so uninspired until the march ended and I realized that people are showing more attempts at solidarity to fight oppression abroad rather than oppression in this country.
I hear echoes of this idea on this campus. During these turbulent economic times both on and off campus, Mills students are attending forums regarding budget and department cuts as well as participating in anti-war gatherings, demanding that their voices and opinions be heard.
Yet many voices fall silent when it comes to discussing issues of racial and class inequality on this campus that are reflections of inequalities existing in this nation.
So I question whether so many people are gathering in opposition to the attacks on Iraq out of true sentiment for the life condition of the Arab people or if it is a response from fear of being attacked.
Do marchers want freedom and equality and justice for the people of Iraq, or do they hope not to reap the repercussions of an administration that does not serve American interests?
Realizing that the answer could be yes to both, I return to the feeling of the march where I felt disconnected from others I marched with.
Although I marched with hundreds of thousands of protestors at January’s anti-war protest, the march felt intensely separated by issues that went untouched and ignored.
Marchers did not interact with one another. Feelings of despair overshadowed the day. A homeless man approached the group of women I marched with saying, “Girls, here you are fighting a war that’s a world away, and I’m starving right here.”
I am not proposing a one step solution to the inequality blatantly visible in this country, but I do suggest that honest dialogue is the first step toward change. That dialogue must start with us. Whether it is comfortable to acknowledge or not, we must ask questions like, “Why are a majority of the people of color employed with Mills College in maintenance and service job positions?”
As the future leaders in the world, we must think globally and act locally. We cannot take on the greater international battle with the intention to win, until we address issues of privilege, oppression and inequality on our own land.
In order to show solidarity against a common oppressor, we must live it. Injustice and inequality on campus are reflections of greater inequalities and injustices in this country.
I believe that instead of chanting solidarity en masse only to part and go our separate ways, we must act here and now. We cannot stop a war in Iraq when there’s a war to be fought at home.