Three Part Mandatory Letter to the Dean of Judicial Affairs
(Please Don’t Take My Financial Aid Away)
I come from a poor family. Two generations ago (and even during my lifetime) my family was picking cotton and herding sheep. My father was the first member of his family to go to college and he only got the opportunity by joining the military. My mom was the second person in her family to attend college and left university after 3 years because she could no longer afford it, despite the fact that she was working two jobs. My parents have invested a lot of their time and energy in making sure that my brother and I have the opportunities they didn’t have to receive a decent education without being harried by poverty.
Despite the concern of my parents, I have paid for the vast majority of my education by working, applying for scholarships, and accepting large student loans. This, by democratic standards, is absolutely unethical. That education is available only to those who can pay has never sat with me right, nor my family who work extensively in the education system at all levels private, public, and professional. As my student loans increase with the cost of school, my family members are losing their job security and in the case of my grandmother, losing their jobs altogether.
Needless to say, when an opportunity appeared for me to make my voice heard on the issue I took it. Unfortunately, it seems like despite all of the pretense to democracy we encounter in America, the powers that be continue to resist change from the bottom up, to our detriment and to the detriment of this country (indeed, this world).
Therefore, I would like to apologize for all the generations before me that allowed money from education and healthcare be funneled into police and prisons causing social poverty. I apologize that they let corporations poison the environment so that I will never know what a beach looks like without plastic and glass imbedded in the sand or grow an edible plant in my garden without chemicals—environmental poverty. I also want to apologize for the people before me who told their peers that change wasn’t worth it and couldn’t be done, immersing all of us into spiritual poverty.
During my undergrad education I enthusiastically attended an intro seminar in the Africana Studies department. Among the topics we discussed, the story of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad was one that had a particular impact on me because of the bravery, the commitment to peace/justice/freedom, and the selflessness that such an action entailed. Then my professor asked if anyone in the class would risk their lives and freedom to bring fugitive slaves to safety and freedom. I was the only person in the entire class who raised my hand and I meant it.
So what I’d really like to apologize for, given the chance here, is that we no longer have the spirit to change our society as a society. I apologize for giving Alameda County enforcement officers the opportunity to spend tax money abusing a group of nonviolent college students exercising their First Amendment rights. Lastly, I apologize that my illusions that we lived in a responsive democracy caused any inconvenience to the institutions and their functionaries I am beholden to.
Plan for Success
My primary plan for success is to never question or challenge the patriarchal capitalist system again. I have seen that there is only woe in standing up to oppression. Martin Luther King and Gandhi will attest this with their lives. At this point, I would much rather live in an oppressive society than die so that generations after me can be free from that oppression. You can mark that down as a historical lesson learned.
I plan on finishing my degree with honors after attaining a reasonable fluency in Spanish within the next two years. Upon graduating I plan on continuing my education at the PhD level so that I can conduct higher cultural research without questioning the power relations of our culture and eventually generate teaching opportunities at the college level for myself. From that comfortable position, I can talk about peace while enjoying all of the privileges of white middle class hegemony and do nothing to change one of the most violent countries in world history.
– 911222382, SFSU 06/07/2011