Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Inspiration needed in protest and awareness

In his speech on Symposium Day, Leonard Pitts Jr. spoke on a variety of subjects relating to being a human in the United States. Perhaps one of his most telling conversation points was how easily we as Americans (particularly white) claim innocence in situations that require our help the most.
While Mr. Pitts applied this to the current crisis of social justice in America, as I listened to him speak, this comment resonated with an important inner question with me. As a generation, there’s no doubt we’ve seen and aided some change in the world. The existence of the Black Lives Matter movement and the protests here on campus easily attest to that.
As Augustana students, we should expect nothing less as we continue a tradition that goes back to the Vietnam War and beyond as Augustana students have fought for peace, human rights, or even the right to play sports.
However, as with any method of change, it has required a work to get the gears of change in motion. For our generation, that has seemed to be one of the hardest parts of actually getting together as a whole to make these movements occur.
It may seem unfair to say that we don’t put enough work into our desire for social change as Generation Y of the Millenials, but prior to the Black Lives Matter Movement, the biggest social movements of our lifetimes have focused more on being “aware” of the problem rather than physically making changes towards them.
In 2012, it became a “national awareness crisis” that Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army were hosting a religious campaign against their own people in Uganda, as well as trafficking children for sex trade and use as soldiers. However, most people did not know that Kony had already been working in Uganda since the early 2000’s and had an indictment for war crimes and crimes against humanity by 2005 from the International Criminal Court.
Not only did this social media movement come seven years later, but most participants felt that their obligations stopped as soon as they “liked” a post, or made a status update crying against the atrocities happening in Uganda.
This ability to say “I am aware” ties back to Mr. Pitts’ insistence that our innocence as Americans incriminates us by letting us say, we don’t support it, but we cannot or will not act against it. Because of our desire to be innocent of all the evils we see in the world, we have begun to equate awareness with social action on an alarmingly large scale.
Social media, despite all the pros and cons to human connection it has created, seems to promote this growing problem in the latest generations. From gay rights to international genocide, our generation has used a profile picture, a chain email, or a Facebook group to equate their need of being a morally good individual.
Real physical change seems something that is still beyond the large majority of our generation. With lives that we chock full of classes, jobs, family, friends, games, and social media, there seems to scarcely be room for us to get up and act on our beliefs and cause the change we want to see in the world.
The culture of Augustana and the spirit of events like this previous Symposium Day show that change is certainly not out of our reach here on Augustana’s campus, we just need a little energy and inspiration.
When a student asked Mr Pitts when we would see an end to people seeing each other as black, white, or somehow different, his only reply was that “(it’s) up to you, not me.” He recalled how when he was a child, adults around him were certain that “the children will fix it.” I’ve certainly heard the same adage as I’ve gotten to Augustana.
The most important thing about this adage is that it only ends when we decide it will. Though we could never all be our own Malala Yousafazi’s, it’s time we learned to do more as a whole than hide behind our keyboards when we want something to change.

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Inspiration needed in protest and awareness