Things Are Changing
There was a time in this country, where we could hide from politics. Politics was just this thing the talking heads did. A few people were really interested in it, but most people could just get by without dealing with it.
Well, things are changing.
Anti-Immigrant repression struck close to home a couple days ago in my town. A town nearby was struck by the INS, who rounded up a number of immigrants and deported them. Well, a woman I have known since Jr. High is currently dating an immigrant worker. She is scared to death that someday her boyfriend will just disappear, as those in the nearby town did. She would never even get to say goodbye to him. He would simply disappear; leaving everything he had here in this country, including his girlfriend that deeply loves him.
That’s something you hear about happening in Nazi Germany or other fascist dictatorships, but now, here in U.S., you can be disappeared in a second for simply not having the right papers.
There is a young man in one of my classes who is from a South American country. He is legal, but he is also scared to death of being swept away in the middle of the night. He knows that people who speak his language and have his skin color are being portrayed as the enemy, and it scares him. Today, I gave him a copy of the Spanish edition of Revolution Newspaper. “Immigrants are our brothers and sisters,” I told him. He smiled, and then excitedly took the paper, his smile got even brighter when he saw the back-page saying “Wanted for Illegally Crossing Borders” and a picture of Bush’s face. He was unbelievably excited to get this newspaper, that he couldn’t wait until the class was over to read it, he started reading it while class was still in session and the teacher threatened to take it away. This paper probably means a lot to him. Here in America, in a small reactionary town, he can have a breath of fresh air reading the truth about the system that is oppressing his people.
When I walk around town, I often pass by some immigrants. I have made an effort to show my support for them. Today, I saw an immigrant about to cross the street. I called to him “hola!” I said. He looked at me and said “hola.” I could see the worry on his face, he had probably just heard about the round-up of the immigrants in a nearby town. I smiled at him and said “Si, se puede” and raised my fist in a red salute. His face lit up like you wouldn’t believe. He raised his fist and said “Si, se puede” back to me. He knew exactly what I was talking about. He smiled at me and said “Thank you!”
Even in one of the smallest and most reactionary towns in the country, the people are getting pulled in politics. Things are getting polarized like you wouldn’t believe.
Our government teacher showed the film Fahrenheit 9-11 in class, but then “balanced” it out with showing the right-wing smear film “Fahren-hype 9-11,” for the three days he showed the films our classes erupted in students shouting at one another. The struggle is intense, and growing more intense everyday.
Recently a bookstore in my town has expressed interest in carrying some of Bob Avakian’s titles, of course the Christian Fascists in the area wouldn’t approve, but the bookshop also carries Sylvia Brown’s writings, which the fundamentalists can’t stand.
“We get a lot complaints,” said the store manager, “but once in a while somebody will come in a buy a whole lot and say ‘thank goodness you had this’ [Sylvia Brown’s writings].”
When I recommended that they carry Bob Avakian’s books, the store manager got on the book distributor website and read about them, when she found out about Observations and read the description she said, “that’s something we should have here, our town needs to hear this kind of voice.”
I will be leaving my home town soon, and going to parts of this country with more intense struggles, and more potential for serious change, but as I look back on the time I have spent here, I think I have had a good impact. I think I have made a difference.
One of my friends who is a lesbian was telling me “you can’t say your opinion in this town, if it’s not republican.” I said “you can, I do.” She said “yes, but look what’s happened to you.”
I think about that.
I think about being called to the principal’s office for speaking out against the war. I think about being screamed at by teachers and called a traitor.
I think about walking down the halls and being called “communist faggot.”
But in the end, it’s all been worth it.
Sure, I don’t get invited to parties; I won’t be winning any special awards at graduation. But it’s all been worth it.
I think about how if it wasn’t for my efforts, there might be kids walking around town still thinking that “Communism is when the government kills people,” or that the U.S. didn’t install Saddam Hussein. These are thoughts I seem to have corrected in many people.
I have made a difference to the people of my town. I really have.
I am nervous about going away. But once I move to the city, I will be able to be more active in the movement. It is the movement that makes me feel I am “in my element.” It’s fighting against this system that makes me feel alive. I hope I can do more of it.
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