Upon hearing the news that student activists at Northeastern University(“a leader in global experiential learning”) were being targeted for punishment by the university administrationin response to their work in solidarity with Palestinians, I was immediately reminded of an episode from my own career as an activist. I was also reminded of how dangerous the impulse of human solidarity can be, at least in the eyes of those who desperately seek to police it and blunt its impact.
Highlighting La Churcha’s undisputable solidarity is certainly important to me, as human resilience and communal support has had a resounding impact on the individuals that I came into contact with during my time spent in the dump. However, there is still the critical issue of the growing landfill and the community living there. While in Managua I stayed with one of the program’s workers outside the dump; it’s rather unsafe for anyone outside the La Chureca community (ak.a. foreigners) to stay in the dump past the late afternoon hours.
When last week I was choosing the key words for my blog description, I opened the Oxford Dictionary on the word “solidarity” and read that SOLIDARITY is “the fact or quality, on the part of communities, of being perfectly united or at one in some respect, especially in interests, sympathies, or aspirations.” My dictionary search came along with the first anniversary of the Occupy Movement, also known as The Black Monday. And the same week, as usually happens Monday was followed after three days with Friday, which was the first anniversary of the death of Troy Davis, who was executed once the US Supreme Court refused to admit - visible for many - mistakes of the judiciary system that most likely sentenced an innocent person or a person of questionable guilt to death.
Eight years ago today, on December 22, 2003, two of my undergraduate students were denied entry into Israel at the southern border with Egypt. The reason, the helpful border guard told them, was that they were "friends with Arabs." He also told them that they would never be welcome again in Israel. The problem, in other words, was not that they wanted to go to Israel; the problem was that they wanted to go to Palestine. In the eight years since then, the experience of these two young Americans has proven, in its own small way, to be quite prophetic.