Opinion

RISE UP: POLITICAL ACTIVISM IS NOT A SPECTATOR SPORT

SNEHA ALAM

STAFF WRITER

Recently, I was telling my dad that in world history class, we discussed what we would have done if we had lived “back then”—usually referring to times of revolutions, warfare, and other politically tense situations from the past. Ironically, we try to convince ourselves that we would save the world, but the truth is that most of us would not meet this expectation. To not succumb to the declarations this reality, I decided that I needed to participate in protests in order to allow my voice to be heard.

Over the summer, I accidentally participated in a protest against the neo-Nazi incident in Charlottesville, Virgina. My father and I were out for an evening walk after dinner. Suddenly, we noticed police cars driving past, all heading towards Castro Street, Mountain View. We followed, curious. Seeing a huge crowd, I listened for the purpose of the commotion. That was when I realized that it was a peaceful protest advocating for love.

Seeing people all around championing love and acceptance is a feeling I can hardly describe as an immigrant of color.

The media depicts the country as a place where my identity is not welcomed —an immigrant girl of Muslim descent amongst others. It often can convince you that there is more hatred than love. I know in my heart this is not true as I have seen and met so many kind-hearted people in my community. Nonetheless, the media reminds us of all the negativity which makes me cross my fingers in hope that my father will not be “randomly” selected at the security check and asked if he has been to countries of his “interest.” Yes, the media has a lot of power in that way. This is why we should contribute rather than succumb to false fears stimulated by the media.

We gathered in front of the theatre center, and I slowly seeped my way through to the front. The daylight had faded, illuminating all the wishful candles. Our hearts were pure, and we stood with open arms as though we had never felt pain and only ever known love. We were there as one.

I tried to find the organizer to get more information on how I could contribute, but instead stumbled into the center- clearing or the “stage” as they call it. Before I knew it, people shouted at me to speak and say something. So I did.

I spoke of how welcomed it made me feel as an immigrant and as a person of color to see a crowd supporting me. I moved here four years ago from Europe. I may not have an American citizenship, but I have never been prouder to say that I live in this country.

Now my heart is at ease knowing in fifty years I can tell my future family and friends of how I started publicly taking a stand in the face of fear and injustice.

Being an activist changes the way you see the world. It does not matter what your personal political view is—just as long as you promote peace and love.

My goal is not to become a superwoman or ask others to do the same. But imagine if the entire American population were super heroes? That would be crazy; however, we can strive to be our best selves. Just a little change in ourselves can impact the world. Let’s all strive to open our ears to other opinions and open our eyes to new points of view:  to not become a statistic in a history textbook but rather to be your own version of a superhero.

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