Revolution #86, April 29, 2007
The Sobering Effects of Wearing Orange
This article originally appeared on worldcantwait.org, the website of the organization World Can't Wait—Drive Out the Bush Regime. Revolution is reprinting it here with the author's permission.
I have to admit that I had been late when it comes to wearing the orange jumpsuits. Something always came up, or I just didn’t “feel” like it. But four years after the invasion and occupation of Iraq, I knew that the least I could do was wear the jumpsuit. In Houston, we have this event called Freeway Blogging, where we hold signs on the bridges overlooking freeway traffic. You get a lot of positive honking and quite a bit of middle fingers, but the energy is good nonetheless. On March 20th, we had groups on six bridges and World Can’t Wait shared a bridge with people expressing solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.
I did not know what to expect. I thought that it would be a normal protest and that would be the end of it. I hoped people seeing me would be reminded that while they are driving home from work, people were being tortured in their names. I had wanted a visceral emotional response from the people and had not expected one of my own.
Wearing the jumpsuit with a black hood, immediately I felt cut off from the world. I became self conscious because I knew that I was standing out. People could see me, and any notion of wanting to blend in fell away as I stood as a symbol of the hatred and violence American soldiers commit everyday.
I thought to myself that at the end of the day, I can take the orange jumpsuit off. I can remove the hood, wave it around in the air if I want, but there are people who can’t do that. There are people for whom, they may never take off the jumpsuit if we don’t stop this war now, and if we don’t stop the torture now.
Wearing the jumpsuit and the hood, I did not want to joke with people or even respond when people called my name. The people being held at Guantánamo Bay and Abu Ghraib weren’t laughing and I felt it was disrespectful somehow. That this was some sort of “action” I was doing and nothing more. That this was something I “did,” but was not something I was serious about stopping, which I am.
I started asking myself all sorts of questions. How are we going to stop this war and torture and reverse the whole direction Bush has taken society? What am I going to do to stop this? What will it take? I really wanted answers because the sobering effects of wearing that jumpsuit has stuck with me. This isn’t some joke and driving out the Bush regime isn’t something I’m doing while I’m figuring out what to do with the rest of my life. Torture is happening, probably as I write this, and I can’t go another day without speaking out against it. This war is still going on and I’m so angry and every person who upholds this war must hear from me because this shit has got to stop.
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