A few thoughts on activism

Yesterday there were rallies all over the US to support immigrants' rights. There was a big one in Madison, something like 10,000 strong. I feel vaguely guilty about not going. This is a cause I want to support, plus it's exciting to be part of something this big. I heard on NPR yesterday that some people think that the movement to support illegal immigrants could be as big as the civil rights movement of the 1960s. But something about the prospect of finding a place to park downtown (no small task in this city, especially when some streets are blocked by throngs of demonstrators) and standing outside for hours with an increasingly heavy 2-month-old prevented me from going.

I like being an activist. Sometimes I like to think of myself as a hell-raiser, but that's probably stretching it. I've never been arrested in an act of civil disobedience or anything like that. Someday I'll write about my experience as an organizer for a labor strike at UW, which is one of the coolest things I've ever done, but it's a long story for another day.

There are a couple points I want to make out of all this rambling. First of all, I want to raise my child (eventually I’ll refer to my offspring in the plural) to be aware of and involved in social justice. Considering that he’s a white male in an educated middle-class family, that isn’t likely to happen on its own. Secondly, no matter what I end up doing with my life, I want to know that I’ve committed at least a little piece of myself and my time to causes more important than my own personal career. Or maybe it's just a way of easing my guilt as a white midle-class liberal.


mamacita said…
Hello Suze. Just last night my husband and I were talking about the Immgriant rights rallies. I was asking him what he thought about them, and he said that he didn´t think they´d be able to accomplish much. So I asked him what he thought would be more effective, which made him think a bit. And he said they should demonstrate in their free time everyday in front of the white house or their own state government building.

And ya know, I think he had a good point. That seems to be the difference between acitvism in the US and activism in other parts of the world, like France, where they have a much more functioning democracy. In France, the university students who just took to the streets for days to protest a new labor law, managed to get their way in the end. The law was rescinded.

Of course they were students on vacation without jobs (a bit ironic considering their cause) and those here in favor of immigrants´rights for the most part probably have to go to work everyday. Maybe protesters in the states need more of a sense of urgency. Enough to make the sacrifice to get out there and protest everyday until they get what they want. Othewise we see just one big rally in the news that we forget the next day and never bother to follow up and see what happened about the issue.

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