Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The Past and Events in our Time

On the day of April 23, 1968, students occupied Columbia University in New York City. It was a very historic time in America plus the world. This event revolved around the student activist movement which desired an end to the war in Vietnam, women's rights, black studies in colleges, the embrace of social equality, and an overall change in society whereby the status quo is gone (and true justice is subsequently made real for the human family). Hamilton Hall in Columbia was occupied first. The reason was that many progressive students wanted to protest against the institution’s ties to a Vietnam War research firm, the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA). Also, the students (made up of people among many backgrounds) wanted to fight against Columbia University's construction of a new gymnasium whose design plan appeared to offer segregated access to black residents of Harlem, which was adjacent to the building’s lower side. This proposed gymnasium was heavily opposed by Harlem residents and many student activists. Five buildings were occupied and one dean was held. It lasted for over one week. It involved hundreds of students. The occupiers demanded the reinstatement of six students suspended for protesting against the IDA, an end to the construction of the gym, amnesty for all students joining in the occupations, and the reversal of an edict by university president Grayson Kirk banning indoor protests. Later, the authorities went too far in suppressing the student revolt. Kirk called the police. He cut the power and water off from the occupied areas. On April 30, 1968, at 2:20 in the morning, some 1,000 police brutally attacked the students. Cops used axes to cut the doors. They or the NYPD assaulted not only students unjustly and viciously. They assaulted journalists and photographers for no reason. Many students were beaten by plains clothes NYPD officers. Some cops destroyed photographic equipment. Within three hours, the occupation was crushed. About 720 students and faculty were arrested, and 136 demonstrators suffered injuries in the police attack. Leaders of the Columbia protests were Black Power activists and SDS members like Mark Rudd. The protests achieved two of their stated goals.

Columbia disaffiliated from the IDA and scrapped the plans for the controversial gym, building a subterranean physical fitness center under the north end of campus instead. More protesting Columbia and Barnard students were arrested and/or injured by New York City police during a second round of protests on May 17–22, 1968, when community residents occupied a Columbia University-owned partially vacant apartment building at 618 West 114 Street to protest Columbia's expansion policies, and later when students re-occupied Hamilton Hall to protest Columbia's suspension of "The IDA Six." Before the night of May 22, 1968 was over, police had arrested another 177 students and beaten 51 students. The legacy of the Columbia protests was that student activism could cause change. All of the freedom that we have today was a result of activists, who in many cases, shed blood in order for us to live on this Earth. We have to always honor the sacrifices of heroes (both men and women including the youth) who desire social and economic justice. The struggle continues and we shall overcome in the end.

When you have even Natalie Portman (who supports Israel's existence) cancelling a trip to Israel because of the atrocities against Palestinians in Gaza, then we have a problem. The corporate media is silent, but we aren't silent. Journalists and ordinary Palestinian people have been abused of their rights not only in Gaza, but throughout the West Bank. Therefore, there is no solution in that region except Palestinian liberation plus where both Jewish and Arabic peoples in that part of the world being respected as equals without occupation. There are millions of sincere Jewish and Arabic people totally disgusted and rightfully opposed to the brutal slaughter going on in Gaza. It is not right. That is why it is no secret that Trump and Netanyahu (who are both right wing nationalist extremists. Both of them have many scandals) are in unison with the status quo. It's taboo to hold my perspective in America, but we won't back down. An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice every where as said by the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Therefore, we have to oppose injustice and defend human rights. You can't have freedom with occupation. You can freedom excluding it.

Also, we can never forget that we live in class struggle too. In this century, we have record economic inequality. It is no secret that the financial oligarchy has the system in place where millions of America work sometimes 2-3 jobs just to get a middle class paycheck in total. Then, you have large homelessness in NYC and in LA. You have social programs being cut massively in Wisconsin and in other locations. Many politicians advocate work requirements on Medicaid and SNAP which harm the most vulnerable economically of our society. Predatory capitalism solves nothing. History has proven that the only solution is social activism and political agitation in getting living wages, collective bargaining, the improvement of farms (as farms in the States contribute heavily to economic growth), the growth of the social safety net, and other investments to grow our infrastructure. Also, it is important to note that Rosa Parks was a Revolutionary. She was involved in the anti-war movement, the anti-apartheid movement, a supporter of Malcolm X including Dr. King, and opposed the prison industrial complex. So, her legacy ought to be honored completely.

What are my views of Kanye West and Candice Owens supporting Donald Trump? My views are the same. Both people are deciding to support a male who uses vicious language against women, minorities, and fighters against racial injustice. They voluntarily agree with a male who wants peaceful protesters in the NFL to be fired and has advocated for violence against dissenters in his rallies. They have aligned with a person who made the racist comment that one's ethnicity determines whether he or she is biased in judging a case. Nothing is new under the sun. People like Jim Brown, Ray Lewis, and Omarosa Onee Manigault-Newman (who later disagrees with Trump after she was fired from the White House recently) have supported Trump when he is the antithesis of progressive liberation. Therefore, we shouldn't disrespect Kanye West or Candice Owens in an unfair fashion. They are still black people in pain and in ideological confusion because of the circumstances of society. Likewise, we don't have to agree with their pro-Trump rhetoric at all. We do have the right to disagree with them. Candice is wrong to equate Democrats to a plantation. That trivializes and mocks the experiences of black people in slavery. She or Candice is wrong to say that Trump is the savior of the world. Trump a'int no savior of mine. God is my Savior. She is wrong to assume that people like me (I'm a black person) should vote for Republicans when the GOP leadership has been complicit in the war on drugs, austerity, and other evil policies. I'm a progressive on economic issues, so I can't vote for a Republican whose many leaders agree with bigotry instead of tolerance and in radically reactionary positions on issues. Social justice, government intervention to help unions, a strong social safety net, workers' rights, and environmental protections are always sacrosanct values that we all support. She and Kanye omits that black people are oppressed by an evil system and wishing it away isn't going to solve this problem. Solving this problem revolves around unity, programs, action, and preparation for resistance against racism/discrimination. People have the right to believe in what they want. I have the right to disagree with both Kanye and Candice Owens in a rational fashion.

By Timothy

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