Thanks to the perseverance and drive of my awesome fellow Juniatians, we were given the opportunity to travel to New York City on Saturday December 13th to march in protest of the recent events involving police brutality.
When we began to ascend the steps from the metro leading to the streets and looked around and saw everyone carrying signs, it began to hit me what was actually about to take place. Our professors and leaders that day told us to savor every single second of the day; they prepared us for the magnitude of people and craziness we were about to enter, but no words were able to prepare me for the feeling of unity, power, and hope that was radiating from the (at least) 50,000-some people whom I was marching with. My friends and I jumped right into the lines of people and chimed in with the songs and chants that were already filling the air. There were news helicopters hovering over the avenues along with photographers perched on top of some of the tallest skyscrapers in sight. We marched past buildings where people were shouting out of their windows holding signs and cheering all of us on.
While I was marching my friends pointed out some signs in Spanish that they saw and thought I would want to see. As soon as I read them, my heart began to sink while at the same time it was so freaking awesome to see people marching for Mexico as well.
Yesterday I was lucky enough to have skyped with my Mexican family in Xalapa for the first time in months. My Mexican mom commented that she saw pictures of me marching in NYC and how proud she was that I was being active during these times of turmoil in our country. I mentioned the signs in Spanish I saw that were about the tragedies in Mexico and her normally brilliant smile disappeared instantly.
Unfortunately just like the United States, Mexico has been suffering its unfair share of police brutality and corruption. For those of you who are not familiar with the recent current events in Mexico, 43 college students in the south of the country disappeared back in September after they were captured by the local police. As of today, zero of the questions the people have about what happened to their students have been answered. The only traces of the students that have been found were charred and dismembered body pieces that were thrown into a river by what the government believes was a local gang that was instructed by the mayor and police of the local town. Forensic anthropologists have been called in to help identify these remains by extracting DNA but it has been a difficult task due to the poor and gruesome state of the charred remains.
Just like across the United States, protests and marches have occurred throughout Mexico but the ones that caught my eye were the ones that were organized and executed by my fellow students at the Universidad Veracruzana in Xalapa. When I began to find articles and pictures of what the students were organizing in Xalapa, the same feelings of unity, power, and hope began to fill me again.
This brings me to the title of this entry: “Una voz”, which translates to “a voice”.
This past semester in my Spanish-American novel course we read a series of novels that all shared the same theme of the importance and power of the voice of the people. These novels I read were set in different countries across Latin America and in different decades, but the authors of these novels were able to convey the same message of the significance of taking advantage of having a voice because when a people no longer have a voice, their hope disappears as well.
With all of this in mind, that’s what my friends and I were doing in New York City that day along with the other tens-of thousands of people. Just like my friends in Mexico, we were uniting our voices in an attempt to be heard and to plant the seed of hope that changes will be made. Not everyone I know agreed with what my Juniata friends and I did that day, but what they and others have yet to realize is that we were also marching for their voices and for everyone else’s voices because the day when the voice of the people is no longer heard or utilized will be the day when the people no longer have a voice.
These voices of the uniting people of the United States, Mexico, Latin America, Syria, Pakistan, and the rest of the world along with my own voice will be the voices that nurture the hope for a better future and the hope for a change. As students, we are the potential of our countries and it is our voices that will have the opportunity and capability to ring and be heard as long as we remember the power and significance of una voz.