by Janani Balasubramanian, ’12
On behalf of the student body of Stanford University, I am so sorry.
Four days ago, our undergraduate student government voted to support the continued invesment of our university’s money in corporations that profit from your suffering.
you have to understand this is the Obama age of politics.
the Obama age of hope and change and Haas Center fellowships.
Every day in our classrooms we invent new words for violence
call it ‘human rights’
call it ‘conflict’
call it ‘democracy’.
Every day we invent new loopholes to owning our privilege.
We are too young.
We are not the decision makers.
This is not our fight.
Stanford would never profit from colonization.
Stanford would never.
we are scared children
in a waking nightmare.
And we are expert at keeping our eyes closed.
Our institution does not teach us
how to listen to a struggling people,
how to heed their ask.
Our education has robbed us of humility, of strength, of patience,
made us forget that revolution does not happen in a 10-week quarter,
that it is like the earth itself revolves:
We do not understand the huge sense of time
you hold in your struggle,
your decades of suffering,
your decades of resistance.
one of our senators suggested a Bing trip to your land
as an alternative to divestment,
We are trying to take field trips to regard
the bulldozers we are funding destroying people’s homes.
we will take the profits from our investments
and write grants to research you,
we will service learn at your borders,
we will cultural theory you.
we will not divest from your suffering because this
this challenge you are posing
is probably too difficult.
we are admitting our own smallness.
When my Zionist peers joke about being oppressors,
I understand they are making light
of what is a heavy position.
For people in power
divestment is like looking
in the mirror and cutting off an arm,
like looking in a mirror
and confronting the harshness of our success,
the way our stomachs are filled on violent histories,
the way our university shines bright red in the sun,
the way our Mausoleum has but one body inside but thousands of spirits.
The way Israel is built on occupied Palestinian land
the way Stanford is built on occupied Ohlone land,
the way Israel is built on white supremacy,
the way Stanford is built on white supremacy,
the way the United States is built on white supremacy.
None of this place belongs to us,
and we would kill before we give it back.
Colonization does not just look like evil,
it also looks like good people being silent.
it looks like our study abroad programs,
it looks like Hoover Tower,
it looks like Senators abstaining from divestment.
Most evil is done by people
who never make up their minds to be good or evil.
Dear West Bank,
I am sorry that my peers
could not do something
minimally decent in solidarity
with all of your suffering,
that they have been robbed
of their kindergarten capacity for speaking out
For now I can only offer my adoration
for your continued struggle
and all your radiant darkness.
Janani is a South Asian electron spinning around the Bay Area making art and scholarship. They like thinking about apocalypse, decolonizing the food system, and making space for quantum queers everywhere. You can view more of their on queerdarkenergy.sqsp.com, and about their happenings with poet-activist-comrade Alok Vaid-Menon at bit.ly/queerdarkmatter. Janani’s also assistant editor over at blackgirldangerous.org.