The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Don’t delay social justice

Tony Rivas | Tuesday, April 20, 2004

“I have never engaged in a direct action movement that was ‘well timed,’ according to the timetable of those that have not suffered.” These words were echoed by Martin Luther King, Jr. in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” But, as my seventh grade history teacher told me, “We learn from history that we learn nothing from history.” We saw this in Friday’s Observer editorial when the editors told PSA that its “choice of a confrontational approach may have soured a productive, if slow-moving dialogue with the administration.” This is easy for the editors to say since they will not be going to the fields this summer. This is easy for the editors to say because they are not the children that help their parents in the fields because they cannot afford to go to school. This is easy for the editors to say because they are not the farmers that toil in Immokalee, a place the New Yorker called “ground zero for modern day slavery.” When I recall the stories that my dad, grandparents, uncles and cousins told me of being exploited in the fields, then you will understand why it is difficult for me to wait. In his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” Martin Luther King, Jr. also said, “I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Councilor or the Klu Klux Klan, but the white moderate who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; … who constantly says, ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action;’ who paternically feels that he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom.” Likewise, I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the greatest obstacle in obtaining of justice for farmworkers worldwide is not the kids in Alumni hanging an “I Love Taco Bell” sheet from their window or the occasional driver that cussed and yelled at us while we protested at Taco Bell on Friday, but the moderate student and consumer that says “I agree with you that exploitation is wrong but I do not agree with your methods of action.” Try telling that to the young boy that picked the coffee beans in the coffee you were drinking while you read this.

Tony Rivasfreshman Knott HallApril 19