“To me, international solidarity does not seem to be something that many Americans legitimately concern themselves with or actually take the time to talk about. It is incredible that we as a society are willing to “share the wealth”, but it would be great to see American society overall be willing to stand in solidarity with people groups from other nations without bringing in a paternalistic attitude that ultimately only serves itself. Above all else, I would love to see more people actually be willing to put their bodies on the line even if they do not totally agree with what a movement stands for.
People always bring up the idea that in order for a movement to actually become a movement it has to start with a conversation. However, if trust is never built by actually showing up when people are being oppressed, this conversation cannot ever actually happen. I have personally been engaged in a number of different protests around and on the UC Santa Cruz campus including, but not limited to, a march against President Trump’s Muslim ban, as well as a number of different Black Lives Matter protests. To be totally honest, though, these protests have not really shaped or moved me. In all actuality, most of my heart for social justice and transnational activism has been formed by my work with Guatemalan refugees. In particular, I have grown in my desire to see justice done for the gay/queer community because this crisis in Guatemala leaves the door open for people to abuse these individuals in various ways. Doing this specific type of work has taught me a lot about how even a simple, small viewpoint, for example, “Men are (somehow) better than women.” can lead to violence, and ultimately, femicide. As such, I cannot sit idly by and settle for something that could potentially lead to violence. As a male person, it brings into perspective a lot of things I have generally taken for granted as well as some things that could lead to violence later on. In general, I do believe in equality, but over time I have come to learn that if a person lets even a little bit of injustice creep through the cracks, they are ultimately standing up for and basically perpetuating it. As a result, I have naturally started to gain the ability to know when to call these things out.
To be a bit more specific and modern with my focus, I figure I ought to bring up the 2017 Women’s March. To start, I hope that this is not just a one time thing and that the same numbers of people show up for continued movements in the future. To be frank, it gave me a lot of joy to see the sheer scope and reach of the protests. Even though I did not actively participate in the march, my parents did, and in fact, the idea of family actually brings something else into the light. As a mixed person of Chinese and White heritage, I have come to understand that my mixed identity ties into this and that both of my identities must be present in order for my involvement to actually work and be of actual help. This is a very beautiful dichotomy, but it is also very hard to deal with. This is due in part to the fact that as men, we are never going to understand or go through the same issues or problems that women do, but it is still very important to recognize and stand beside them through these issues.” — Justin Talbott, University of California, Santa Cruz