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UC Protests…

November 21, 2009

So, I’m sympathetic, really I am. What is it? A 32% hike? That’s huge, it really is. And, I fully realize how inaccessible college already is for so many people, particularly youth of color (as in, all my kids). Only a little under 50% of my Latino and African American boys will even graduate from high school here in lovely California.

I’ve been watching some of the footage today from the protests at Berkeley and feeling nostalgic for sit ins, and at the same time acutely aware of how cheap higher education is here in California, at least compared to my state education. I worked for a year before college, because my parents didn’t want me to go and I had no idea how to (or money to finance the endeavor). Then I went to a shitty community college for two years, and transfered to the state university in Chicago because I didn’t think I could go anywhere else (though now I think that I could have). Hindsight and all that. Regardless, it turned out well. I can see God’s hand in it for sure, and a lot of blessings came out of the entire experience. I think that having to forge my own way through college, financially and otherwise changed me deeply (in a good way). I feel like perhaps students here are a little out of touch though, even my community college was over TRIPLE what it is here. My state university tuition was (I believe) around 15k a year. That’s 5k more than what UC will be AFTER the tuition increase.

I mean, I agree, higher education should be free or at the least vastly more accessible than it is now. Just sayin’ though…you know.

God only knows I’ve been to my share of protests in college. Actually, my first protest was right after the war started (I think) and I marched ELEVEN MILES with a Quaker peace organization, through the campus of Wheaton College, all the while carrying one half of a huge banner through high winds. I couldn’t raise my right arm past my shoulder for a week it hurt so bad after that. That protest was also when I heard Kathy Kelly speak and fell in love with her, and with social justice Christianity.

Owch, my arm!

Kathy Kelly...

I was looking for the photos from that march and started laughing because the amount of protest pictures in my iPhoto library is a little out of hand. Three years of May 1st pro-immigration marches, anti-war stuff I organized, an event against anti-gay folks that involved a late night trip to GayMart for rainbow stickers (and was the first time campus security was called on me, yikes), various other queermo marches, tons of anti-war marches and protests and sit ins, Take Back the Night marches and vigils, and the list goes on. By the time my last Chicago protest rolled around I was feeling kind of burnt out on activism, and particularly burnt out on planning it due to a nasty little activist spat during a training event I was organizing. I remember walking downtown and seeing all these 18 year old running around with their keffiyehs and face masks and wondering what exactly they knew about Palestine…

Marching under the el tracks.

Another May 1st march.

I want to take my kids to protests.

Anti war a couple years later...with Honna I think.

Even I felt slightly melodramatic when the bags came out. Thus I opted for literature organization.

Last Chicago protest. By this time I'd found the real rabble rousers, the marching buddies evah.

Now the only protests I’ve been to in the past few years are Prop 8 ones, and those even felt really hollow to me. Maybe my job has really made me pissy with activists too. I think that, though I love and deeply admire activists, there is a huge under-informed and lazy portion of them. When I was walking through the Castro, down Market and through so much wealth, I can’t help but wonder when the last time some of these wealthy white gay men gave money (or even more so, time) to any organization other than the HRC (sell outs) or something…I wish some of them would come to school with me. Plus, the work for gay marriage that needed to be done in San Francisco was sure as hell not found walking down Market. At my most hopeless I felt like it was a huge (and ultimately futile) exercise in progressives mutual masturbation. I kind of feel like this a lot in San Francisco sometimes. But then, I love it just as much as the next Mission resident. parents got married here! I'm sure they never imagined that their daughter, who was slightly more than a twinkle in their eye upon their wedding day, would one day be standing outside this building...

I’m not sure if this is all coming out of just activism burn out, or if it’s something deeper, because I know that I still love it all…I guess I’m just not as emotionally convinced that we’re going to prevail one day.

First pride...

2 Comments leave one →
  1. tara permalink
    November 27, 2009 3:12 am

    hey–how come i get NO credit or mention in any of this? aren’t I important in your life?! didn’t I also help out with all of these events?! you talk about take back the night and all of these other events that YOU supposedly organized… i remember it being a little more two-sided.


  2. February 25, 2010 7:37 am

    Gabrielle!! I completely and totally remember the WCC peaceful protest. That was a great day in WCC history — probably the most liberal day they’ve had in a long, long time.

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