Walla Walla may be a small city, but that does not suppress the flow of passion for human rights among residents. Downtown is known for its restaurants, wineries, boutiques and live music, but it also frequently hosts speeches and demonstrations at the Land Title Plaza.
On Tuesday, Oct. 11, activists led a protest demanding Democrats to stick to their promise of a path to citizenship for immigrants. President Biden has claimed to support migrants, but nearly a year into his presidency we have seen no improvement to the hostile treatment immigrants receive and a continued lack of citizenship grants.
As I attended this demonstration after classes, I listened to Whitman Professor Bobrow-Strain, Walla Walla residents and members of the Walla Walla Immigrant Rights Coalition and Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network give powerful speeches on the urgency for change to protect human life. It was incredible to watch how the Walla Walla community came together to advocate for important change, although the entire time I couldn’t help but wonder why I saw very few Whitman students attending.
Many Whitman students have the privilege of white skin and full U.S. citizenship, but many others and their families are impacted by the Democrats’ failure to provide citizenship. Our classmates, friends and loved ones are facing harm due to this failure and lack of care, so why aren’t we showing up for them? Members of the greater Walla Walla community also face these painful effects, as 10 percent of Walla Walla county residents are immigrants, why aren’t we showing up for them?
For those who did not attend, please take the time to send a pre-written letter through this link created by One America Votes titled, “Biden, Harris, Murray, and Cantwell: Keep your Promise! We Demand a Pathway to Citizenship NOW!” to provide protection for our undocumented communities.
On Oct. 2, Walla Walla joined the national protest for abortion rights. This demonstration was a response to the increase of anti-abortion laws that have been passed in the United States, and was led by organizations such as the Walla Walla Planned Parenthood. The abortion rally was advertised around Whitman campus, although there was yet again, a lack of support from Whitman students.
So for those of us with a collection of privileges, what is our excuse? For those of us who are not susceptible to COVID-19 or potentially life-threatening situations from authorities, what is our excuse?
These demonstrations address life or death situations for marginalized human beings. It is crucial for privileged people to show up and express support for these demonstrations to gain attention.
Protests are a great way of expressing our voices and love for our communities and all humans around the globe. Group acts of resistance have historically proved to be effective by putting pressure on authorities and government officials to create systemic change, and the more people present and actively resisting, the more likely change can occur. Walla Walla may be a temporary residence for many of us, but as long as we are here this is our community and it is vital that we show up for them.