Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

From silence to solidarity: Overcoming the fear of taking a stance

Rachel Choi
Illustration Rachel Choi

Opinion editors are not responsible for agreeing or disagreeing with their writers but rather elevate each individual’s specific voice. 

When the Israel-Palestine conflict “began” on Oct. 7, 2023, the world was astonished. Protests and rallies supporting both sides immediately began, as did vigils and memorials. Amongst it all, several relatives warned me to be safe—I didn’t want to get caught on camera at a political event as a person of color because it would hurt my professional chances. 

I have struggled with the decision of whether to attend demonstrations in college for several reasons. It can be severely unsafe for people of color. It can define my political stance in the eyes of employers. It can alter my relationships with those close to me. But why did I never realize, it can create change

After the student arrests outside the Cutler Majestic Theater during a protest on March 22, I attended my first on-campus rally for Palestinian liberation, student safety, and free speech. I walked out into the 2B Alley nervous, unaware of where to stand, what to say, how to be. I left the 2B Alley on the verge of tears, feeling the impact of the words said and chants cried coursing through my veins. I was ashamed that the first time I attended such an event was in my second semester of senior year, weeks from graduating, at an institution founded on inspiring “generations of students to think boldly.” 

The reality of the situation is, while I am upset with myself for not participating earlier, I am also consoling that part of me. This capitalistic society we live in values the next paycheck, the offer letters, the promotions, more than paying attention to global chaos and turmoil—and this is the world that encloses me, even at Emerson College. The mindset of not having time to go to a protest so I can finish a major assignment, or limiting social media engagement with political statements so it doesn’t follow my professional name, are reactions to a rigid desire to simply be successful. That’s not the way it should be, but it is, for many people

This world we live in is so absorbed by the economic gains that we forgot how prevalent politics truly are day to day. The policy we abide by as a nation impacts everything we do, whether that’s investing in stocks to arms sales with foreign countries. At the end of the day, these “political stances” we elude are quickly becoming simple, humane opinions. Are we not going to have those either now?

When I left the 2B Alley that day, I was shaken up; I didn’t know what emotions to let in because while I am a student on this very hurt campus, I had to get to my internship. I didn’t know who to confide in because the people I’ve spent my time with at this institution are just as career-driven that it’s become so normalized to push away the impulses to take a stand.

I envy those who are taking a stand, loud and proud. You’re far stronger than me. 

As a person of color, and someone who was raised in an Islamic household, the screams for justice in Palestine flood my being. The clear racism against Islamic communities exercised by this country time and time again stares me in the face every time I say my father’s name. 

The majority Black and brown students getting arrested on March 22 didn’t shock me, but it did shake me to do better—and to be present. 

Americans are so economically driven, forever focused on the dream to make riches that their individualism prohibits them from joining in solidarity for anything. Our incredibly polarized country is founded on the notion of focusing on our own issues, forgetting there is a hurting world outside of our corporate bubble.  

We will get that job, we’ll make that money, we’ll succumb to the capitalist system, but we won’t get the chance to fight for what we value when that very thing ceases to exist. 

Just as “expression [is] necessary to evolution,” so are the humane forces behind it. I’ve realized now, hopefully not too late, that I am one of those forces.

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About the Contributor
Mariyam Quaisar
Mariyam Quaisar, Managing Editor
Mariyam Quaisar (she/her) is a senior journalism and BCE double major from Brookfield, Connecticut. She served as editor-in-chief and business operations. She loves to share her views on “unconventional” topics and will never turn down a steamy plate of chicken wings. 

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