Letter from the Editor: Our winter of discontent
And so we begin a winter of discontent. On Tuesday, students and activists gathered in the quad area amid the rain to protest the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The subsequent wave of protests that have included various cities across the U.S. following the acquittal of the police officer who shot Brown has now made an appearance in our campus. In our News section this week we offer a full report with interviews and photos on the event.
It might seem strange that Santa Monica College would be the site of a Ferguson solidarity march, only because this area has a reputation of being somewhat affluent and devoid of the kind of social grievances affecting communities such as, for example, South Los Angeles. Yet the gathering of students and groups such as members of the Associated Students and Black Collegians was a reminder that human compassion and anger can become strong enough to reach every corner of the country.
Yet amid the strength of the spirit of solidarity, we should be sober-minded and realize that it will take more than slogans and chants to change and transform the social conditions that cause tragedies like Ferguson. The protest fell short of making a stronger impact, however, when protest organizer decided to divide the group into separate circles, one for African Americans and one for "allies", identified as non-African Americans and other people of color. While both circles engaged in lively discussions about race, social inequality and problems in the American social justice system, the idea of separating people in accordance to race rendered the meaning of the event worthless.
It was explained that the issues of Ferguson are "black issues", pointing towards the trending slogan #BlackLivesMatter. Why isn't the slogan #AllLivesMatter? If we are truly going to overcome racial and social divisions in this country, indeed in the world, we must start thinking in less tribal, less nationalist ways. We must dismiss the ethnic boundaries between ourselves and begin imagining a society where solidarity overcomes class and skin color.
The Israeli filmmaker Udi Aloni, in his powerful book "What Does A Jew Want?," proposes that the only real solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict is the eventual formation of a binational state where both Arab and Jew live side by side in a diverse, yet united society. The thought is radical, but it may be the only salvation for a region increasingly in flames.
The anger over the shooting of Michael Brown, and all injustices, should be universal, it should tap into the moral gene of all. The most revolutionary act an individual can carry out is to see someone else and appreciate that individual for who they are, including every part of their character in this acceptance.
In the early 20th century, the Polish-Jewish revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg was once asked why she did not solely devote her energies to the cause of Europe's discriminated Jews. A born internationalist and radical thinker, Luxemburg replied to her friend, "I feel at home in the world wherever there are birds, clouds, and human tears." In this spirit we can wipe away the tears of Ferguson, and imagine an equal democracy for all.