January 20, 2017 (Trump’s Inauguration Day) Transcript of Speeches from Strike/Walkout Rally. The day began at 8am with about 60 striking faculty, TAs, and students picketing the Faculty Club parking lot, forcing the space to be shut down for nearly two hours. The picket moved to Gilman Dr. to shut down the main campus thoroughfare for another half hour before taking shelter. At 11am, strikers marched again through campus towards the stone bear statue, where we met with roughly 30 graduate student workers who left their labs in a STEM Walkout. The march arrived at the rally point at 11:30am, where a dance party was initiated. No permits. No permission from administration. Students and workers claimed a temporary autonomous zone and did with it what they saw fit to enjoy, and educate, ourselves, on our own terms. A true gesture of autonomy. Approximately 500 were present at the rally’s start. Members of Lumumba Zapata Collective coordinated a cross-border effort to feed all in attendance with tamales brought from Tijuana. The text below was read by seven different members of LZC at the rally. The final image is from a dance that was performed at the event, titled, “The Trouble with Dabble pt. 2.” Participants braved one of the worst storms California has seen in decades to denounce the rise of the fascist government into power. Protesters danced for over an hour in the rain.
SPEECH #1: LZC Opening Statement
We are the Lumumba Zapata Collective, an anti-authoritarian, anti-capitalist, anti-racist multiracial coalition of faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students at UCSD. We have coalesced around the struggle for a public university that centers social justice in pedagogy and practice. We trace our genealogy to the 1968 struggles led by Black and Brown students at UCSD, struggles that led to the foundation of Third College, now known as Thurgood Marshall College. Originally, students active in the Black Student Council and the Mexican American Youth Association wanted to name the college after the Congolese and Mexican revolutionaries, Patrice Lumumba and Emiliano Zapata. But the UCSD administration rejected that name chosen by the students. We see our current autonomous efforts as the Lumumba Zapata Collective as another means to keep the memory of multiracial coalition alive, as a means to normalize dissent in these ominous and dangerous political times.
In 1968, there were only 33 African-American and 44 Mexican-American undergraduates enrolled at UCSD. Though these numbers have shifted in the last 40 years, we have yet to witness the changes these students originally fought for. Students of color fighting for a Lumumba Zapata Third College fought for an alternative education model that focused on the liberation of domestic and global communities of color. They provided a critical analysis of racialized global capitalism and demanded us to pay attention to the ways U.S. imperialist oppression abroad is linked to the oppression of marginalized and racialized communities at home. In this spirit, we organize collectively and autonomously in order to face the threats posed by a Trump presidency. The Lumumba Zapata Collective intervenes in the current climate of disillusion and hopelessness to remind us that UCSD has a long history of dissent that needs to be revived now more than ever.
The urgency of the current political moment, one that has mainstreamed white nationalism, sexism, ableism, and climate change denial drove us to call for a strike which is not just to protest Trump. We are here to protest the policies and the decisions that paved the way for Trump, the policies that continue to minoritize those of us who have been historically left out of the imaginary white nation. The Lumumba Zapata Collective came together in the Spring of 2016 in preparation for a potential Trump presidency. Some of us are graduate students and some of us have been organizing on campus since 2010. Some of us have witnessed the mobilizations led by the Black Student Union after the Compton Cookout, and some of us have been active in many other campus organizing efforts. We have worked slowly to build a multiracial network of student-workers and faculty willing to come together and organize in the face of state-sanctioned oppression. After witnessing the proliferation of racist chalking and postering on campus, we realized that the university administration would merely enable such happenings under the label of Free. Speech. and we believe we deserve more from an institution that is drowning us in debt and that is using our diverse faces for its brochures.
As the Lumumba Zapata Collective, we are moved to take action because we realize there is something deeply wrong with what is going down in institutional politics! The current situation is no joke. The reality is that we are all coming from different social positions, experiences, and political ideologies. While this is difficult to reconcile at times, we continue to remind ourselves that this should not get in the way of a common struggle against the rising fascist government of Donald Trump. Our internal differences are negotiated collectively, they don’t go away, but we strive to commonly define a shared interest. Our shared interest today is a free, demilitarized, social justice-centered public university. Our aim, is to normalize dissent. And with our name, we invoke that long tradition of coalitional and intersectional politics at UCSD.
So, for those of us in Lumumba Zapata, our vast differences are okay and inevitable. We believe we can all develop as political individuals by first building strong relationships across the different barriers that divide us; and then second, struggling alongside one another against common oppressive forces. Today, those forces are the university administration and the state. We cannot resist oppression individually: We need everyone. We need all of you, and the different roles you will play in this struggle.
For this reason, we build towards a real mass student movement that will intervene in the everyday functioning of the university, one that will find strategic ways of impacting the local, the national, and even global politics. Welcome!
SPEECH #2: (anti-)Fascism
I’ve been asked by some people in the last few weeks
why use the word fascism
what does that old word mean to us, in this moment?
We use it to distinguish todays fight from yesterdays.
For the last few decades, we’ve had to fight on several fronts.
Against sexism and homophobia, transphobia and white supremacy,
Those practices enforcing racial and gender hierarchies.
Against the grinding violence of the market,
where workers take bad hours and worse pay,
where social institutions — like this university — are run like businesses,
and where people are only valid if they are valuable.
Against Nationalism and imperialism,
that defines humanity by its passport,
that put the comfort of those in the US above the lives of those elsewhere,
that destabilizes and destroys
from Tijuana to Yemen.
With all these forces in play, they might occasionally bump up against each other.
Maybe the capitalists need a bit less racism this year,
maybe white supremacists allow a social program or two so long as it helps whites more,
maybe the nationalists get antsy about selling off our labor laws to the world trade organization,
and maybe the US military takes climate change seriously.
Today, Trump has rejected several slow deaths in favor of a fast one.
Fascism means the uneasy truce is over.
These forces of domination are now all on the same side.
The pretense of a color-blind and tolerant capitalism is falling away,
and the market is merging with the police and the military as the primary agents of social change.
So, what does this word mean for us, practically?
1. To refuse Trump’s fascism means that we refuse to play stupid with white supremacists.
These are the people who think they’re sly
when they say they’re merely appreciating their European heritage.
These are the people who scream “free speech”
when they’re blocked from a message board for using racial slurs,
but are nowhere to be found when the police arrest actual protesters.
This university has consistently played this game
And allowed these people to intimidate other students and damage our community
So it’s up to us to refuse to play to along,
By identifying, isolating and preventing white supremacists from invading our campus.
It’s always good to remind people, freedom of speech
also means we have the right to say “Shut the fuck up!”
2. To refuse Trump’s fascism means that we refuse to get along with this government,
and with those who collaborate.
There is no acceptable compromise with fascism,
there is no justifiable collaboration.
The danger from those who express their polite disagreement
and then go along for the sake of their career
or out of cowardice, is as great or greater,
than the danger from the enthusiastic fascists.
We will not work for fascism and we will not excuse those who do.
3. To refuse Trump’s fascism means
that we refuse the mistaken utopianism
of those who think Trump’s incompetence will mean he will fail.
This is not a government that will apologize when things go wrong.
They will blame immigrants, leftists, undocumented workers, people of color, and liberals too,
and that blame will turn to violence if we aren’t prepared to defend our communities.
4. To refuse Trump’s fascism means that we don’t have time to wait for midterm elections,
we don’t have the luxury to hunker down for the next four years and wait this out.
The violence is already here and we need to resist it, right now.
Whatever you’re good at, whatever you want to be good at,
apply that, use that force and pressure on the state
which imprisons, expels and murders our brothers and sisters, our friends and our comrades.
Because today, we are all antifascists.
SPEECH #3: We Are STEM
We are STEM
and we dream of the universe.
We picture the galaxies and speak of the stars
we measure currents in oceans and circuits
we decode DNA and quantum code in base 4.
We are STEM
and mathematics, and
we search for truth.
Science fact! Did you know that people are made of stars?
These burning clusters of gas collapse under their own weight,
exploding into new elements,
Creating the moon, the Earth,
the atoms that shape our bodies.
We are STEM
And we also are made of stars.
We also are brilliant and we also are women
and we are black, we are brown
and we are Asian, native, Muslim, Jewish, Christian
We are trans, queer, straight,
We have disabilities of different visibilities
And we deal with insecurities
And we each
contain multitudes of these identities. We have been
a 15 year-old camp counselor
listening to a White mother tell her White daughter
that she didn’t
have to share the playground swings
with our Chinese American youngsters
because her daughter was White
and they were not. We have been
the only woman the class,
the one no one wants to work with,
despite how hard we rock our knowledge. We have been
the bread winners balancing our babies
as we balance our checkbooks
as we build our models of cellular metabolic processes
and dynamical systems that refuse to stay linear.
“I am impressed a mexican has made it this far”
“Where are you from, no, before that,
where are you really from, you look so (pause) exotic”
No, did they really say that?
We are all of this, and we are also,
a LOT of us,
Cis white men benefiting from the silence.
We are STEM
And we are human
So we must not work LOST in thought but FOUND by answers,
not WITHIN reason but elevated by it.
is not passion, y’all.
is not the same as ethical
are NOT individuals.
We remember the child, the family, the neighborhoods,
the lives lived and the lives undone
Lives given by our drugs and tests
and lives taken by our bombs and guns.
We search for truth
And this we and this search and this truth
Are political, inherently.
Our history is littered with a litany of negativities
Eugenics and phrenology
But also possibility
We produce knowledge produces power
Equals force times velocity
To power work for positivity?!
That equation is us!
We are people and we work for people
So let us use what we learn to create
Let us engineer the foundations of justice.
We Are STEM
And we face a government
crushing our dreams of open science,
Shutting down scientific inquiry
Shutting up scientific integrity
Shutting doors on opportunities,
on hypotheses before they can bloom
confirming climate-change deniers,
while the Marshall Islands flood
while the Indian farmers starve
while the ocean life and forests shrink
filled with white supremacists
Upping the volume on state-sanctioned violence
loaded with Exxon-bribed senators,
while indigenous communities gather in prayer
In age-old defense of their land, water, and air.
We are STEM
And we’ve got work to do
Labor outside of our labs
So just–for a moment–let’s put down our Bunsen burners
If we want to spark a change
We need collaboration–
we loooove that word!–
we cannot work in isolation
So we need you artists,
experts in your fields,
we’ll make a bomb-ass combination
We are STEM
And we have chosen to walk out today.
This is just the beginning.
Tomorrow, we will reflect on our potential energy.
And next week,
as we build spaceships,
we will build friendship.
And next month,
as we study bacterial motility
and the motion of Earth’s plates,
we will study the movements
that came before us.
And next year,
as we plot figures in Matlab,
we will plot acts of resistance
against figures of oppression
We are STEM and we dream of the universe.
We are STEM and we search for truth.
We are STEM and WE. SEEK. JUSTICE!
Speech #4: UAW 2865 UC-wide Solidarity Walkout
Today we are here defying orders to accept the status quo, orders to look the other way and carry on business as usual. We recognize these orders as a form of silencing, a silencing that is meant to depoliticize our university and our very selves. Ojo! We say No! Decimos basta! We are here because we recognize ourselves as vulnerable, as trembling in fear and rage, for who can be left untouched by racism, islamophobia, sexual and gender violence, and environmental devastation? [Raise your hand if you are going to be untouched] We are also here because we recognize long-standing hierarchies of oppression which have rendered some groups in our community more vulnerable than others—women, people of color, the poor, the working class, LGBTQQI folks, the undocumented, and disabled. While many hope that governmental checks and balances will safeguard us, we recognize that the most fertile grounds for social justice – past, present, and future – germinate not in these institutions but in classrooms, neighborhood organizations, collectives, agricultural fields, factories, and rallies. We are here because we recognize that OUR University has a long way to go in becoming a transparent agent for social justice, and we as students have a vision for what that means and a responsibility to birth it. We are here because we love with rage, and rage with love.
(Speaker reads UAW 2865 demands)
As a union, we will protect any academic student employee, tutors, readers, teaching assistants, both grad and undergrad, who face any reprisals for taking action today.