Awareness, Boycotts and Protests Do Work!

Percy Bartelt, opinions editor

Photo of students marching for Palestine taken by Tayana Osuna on Nov. 14

A sea of college students gathered on Macalester’s campus, holding their signs, wearing a mixture of reds, greens and blacks. All were ready to march through the streets, chanting and screaming at the top of their lungs, “Ceasefire! Now!”, “Justice for Palestine!”, “Biden, Biden, what do you say? How many kids did you kill today?” When a single voice goes upon ignorant ears of the government, you gather your numbers and you march together. You protest together. You scream as loud as can be to get through their thick skulls together. Togetherness is what drives us as humans — but we’re failing to see that when hate is the fuel to devastating fires. 

On Tuesday, Nov. 14, a few colleges — consisting of Augsburg, St. Kate’s and the University of Minnesota — and organizers from the Minnesota chapter of American Muslims for Palestine (who you can follow on instagram @amp_mn) gathered at Macalester and proceeded to march around about a three block square, flooding the streets and yelling at onlookers to heed our words, to listen and to spread awareness for the fight for Palestine. This is a continuous fight, but we as supporters and activists, in our own rights, should do our best to fight for those who are at risk. 

We’ve seen in the past that protests, boycotts and political awareness can greatly help prevent tragedy and/or can help a specific demographic — like what we’ve seen with Black Lives Matter movements, Queer rights, protecting Indigenous lands and Native rights and stopping Asian targeted hate. All these fights are still happening, but awareness has been brought to the public and the people will then in turn influence our politicians who can — or should more like — do legal change and protections for these groups. Even recently with the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes — those months long protests ended with deals for those workers to finally be paid fair wages and not be used and tossed aside. However, the weight of identity-related protests is heavier and it’s admittedly harder to fight for, but this doesn’t mean we stop fighting, yelling and spreading the word. 

Tell your friends and family what’s happening. Tell them to tell someone else, it will all help to spread the word. Post on social media, reading articles and trusted news sources. Stay informed people! If you want to do above the bare minimum — which you should — participate in boycotts and marches, show up for the communities and issues that you are passionate about.

If you’re concerned that these things don’t work, the results don’t lie. I’m sure you’ve seen the loads of brands that are being boycotted on behalf of Palestine. Various McDonalds and Starbucks locations are closing due to inactivity or lack of funds, according to The Hilltop news source. So, if you think, “Oh, my eight dollar Starbucks drink won’t matter,” screw you. These corporations are funding the Israeli military and its government, so, when you see more deaths on the news – that blood is on your hands too. Think twice. Shop locally. People are also coming out in droves to protests and marches for Palestine like the one that I mentioned before. We are doing this because we will be the change; we have to be in order to see a free and secure Palestine.

I urge you to attend as many protests as you are able. I urge you to keep up to date and to know the history. I urge you to show up and show out for your communities because if you don’t, nobody will.