On Tuesday, La Casa — the Latinx Umbrella organization on campus — and SAFE — Students Allied for Freedom and Equality — collaborated to conduct a “Border Protest Blackout” on the Diag to protest unfair border policies in both Palestine and Mexico. The event aimed to raise awareness about the issues that stem from these policies and the devastating effects they have on people both abroad and right here on campus. It also aimed to foster solidarity and community and bridge the common struggles between two targeted communities. Students were asked to wear black and show up at the Diag at 12pm.
Each organization had constructed a symbolic wall with paintings reflecting the struggles of their community. Painted on SAFE’s wall was the symbolic phrase often used by the Palestinian community on campus “To Exist is to Resist,” as well as a depiction of four pictures of Palestine, from 1996 to 2010 with each picture showing the decreasing space of Palestinian land as Israeli territory took over. Students also acted out a simulation portraying what a typical interaction between a Palestinian and an Israeli soldier looks like at an Israeli checkpoint. Palestinians are asked arbitrary questions, intimidated, and often barred from entering certain territories, leading to separated families and often physical and emotional abuse.
On La Casa’s side was a wall to represent the illegal border wall Trump wants to put up to bar immigrants from entering the US. Painted on their wall was a barbed wire fence and prison bars, with the phrase “The American Dream” above the fence and “We Are Our Ancestors Wildest Dreams” underneath it. Latinx students also acted out a simulation of what happens between undocumented immigrants and ICE at the borders, shedding light on the horrific way immigrants are treated, families are separated, and people seeking a better life are cruelly deported.
A speaker from each org also gave a little bit of background about the separation policies pertaining to their community and some examples of what people affected by them go through before putting on a brief simulation. These powerful demonstrations, along with chants like “Free Palestine” and “Undocumented and Unafraid,” brought attention on campus to the struggles of these marginalized groups in the height of political unrest and hostile political climate. The event ended with traditional dances for both communities, with many students joining in unity to celebrate both cultures and demonstrate solidarity and unwavering resistance.
The significance of events like these cannot be overlooked, as solidarity in these times between different communities is vital. Different students organizations collaborating with each other, students of the same backgrounds and different backgrounds showing up for each other, and continuing the fight for justice despite backlash from the student body and indifference from a University that fails to address the concerns of many marginalized groups is essential in creating a more inclusive campus. It exemplifies that we must keep advocating, we must keep organizing, and we must keep uplifting and celebrating each other. Even when students walk by and make insensitive snide remarks, even when students take off their shirt and run across the diag with an Israeli flag to stir up unrest. Even when professors who choose to uphold BDS are punished by the University. Especially then. We must disrupt the silence to an institution that favors certain groups of students over others, and is quick to denounce faculty for acting in alignment with their beliefs against human rights violations. We must speak up for our undocumented friends and fellow students who live in fear and pain, for all the immigrants in this country who remain walking on eggshells. We can draw inspiration from groups like SAFE and La Casa for doing what needs to be done, for bridging communities here on campus and advocating for what’s right. May these prominent communities continue to exist and exert their influence on campus and beyond, because “to exist is to resist.”