This was published in the Chapman University Social Justice zine “Voices.”
When the first Gulf war broke out, I wanted to protest. I wanted to be the kid in the CNN stock protest footage, surrounded by people, and an uplifting hope that peace was possible. My grandmother had protested in the 60s, my friends parents went to protests, and put stickers on their cars: NO BLOOD FOR OIL. There were lengthy discussions and strong opinions that flew across the dinner table, but we didn’t protest, and we had no stickers.
When I was a sophomore in high school, protesting the economic sanctions against countries, such as Iraq, I knew that ten kids with signs in front of a suburban post office were not going to save the world.
When 9-11 occurred, I expressed many opinions I later learned were shared with me by a man named Ward Churchill (since blacklisted for those very thoughts.) I sent rice to the president and pleaded for FOOD NOT BOMBS. I put up flyers, and had ‘intellectual discussion’ everywhere I could.
When war was coming, four of us organized a walk-out that got negotiated down to a teach-in at lunch with full use of our high school gym. I went to other teach-ins outside my community; I dragged my friends and ate Vegan cookies on college lawns. For my birthday, my mother bought me a ticket to San Francisco, where I marched with 27,000 others to make the anti-war voice heard.
When the war started, I wasn’t surprised, but I kept my distance from the movement, feeling failure slow me down.
When election time came, I touted the benefits of not voting Bush, fully aware that there wasn’t much to keep him from cheating again, but definitely not expecting him to get a fair win.
When Bush won, I stopped. I no longer cared. Trapped at Chapman, not only did I feel that I was in a minority, but a minority infected with apathy. I became infected as well.
When I woke up, it was February, and I was afraid to continue the fight. I was afraid of failure one more time. I now know why we never protested when I was a child, and why there were no stickers on our car. I can remember my grandmothers face as she watched the injustice she had fought so hard against rise again. In the 60s they believed that they were going to recreate the world in their image, their desperation was that they merely improved it.
When I remembered why I fight, I was listening to an old woman say that “You can’t allow others behavior to change who you are.” I am a believer in respect for life, I am a fat half Mexican Woman, who deserves to be seen (as human, as valid, as beautiful, as powerful, as whatever I want to be). I don’t fight to win, and I’m not planning on recreating the world in my image. I fight to be who I am within My Reality, and in My Reality, WAR FOR PROFIT IS NOT OKAY. The victory is in resistance, and the failure is in apathy. Everything after that is only consequence.