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by Adam Joad
Monday, May. 23, 2005 at 3:52 PM
The Article is a report back from Saturday's Fast for Famine in Riverside CA
Axis of Justice and Rubidoux High School’s “30 Hour Famine”
The Students of Rubidioux High School, in Riverside, California, in conjunction with Axis of Justice, held a 30-hour fast for famine relief to raise money and awareness about starving children worldwide. The student’s began fasting after the end of their traditional school day on Friday May 29th, and continued on through the next day’s festivities until 10pm the following evening.
In the words of the event’s coordinator, “A 30 Hour famine is when a group of people, in this case students, get together and fast for 30 hours in order to understand the reality of hunger and the importance of making a difference in people’s lives.” In addition to a solidarity statement amongst young people, it was also a generous monetary display. Individual students were responsible for gathering pledges and donations that would benefit the children of Kenya and the victims of the Tsunami.
The unofficial head count for the day was 200 students. During the brutal heat of the day, the students were welcomed to use the school’s pool, participate in artistic forums, and attend the Axis of Justice musical portion that was coordinated by Axis of Riverside Chapter organizer, Ariel Muro. Despite the exhaustion and heat, the Rubidoux high school students were enthusiastic and eager throughout the show.
The lineup began with a strange decision to play outside by the first band, Question the Gas Price. The students that braved the heat were treated to some local melodic indie rock to get things started. After the show was moved inside to a more weather appropriate area, Creshendo and Bloodline, ripped through two sets of brutal hardcore and articulate, underground, conscious hip hop respectively. LA rockers, 286, finished the show with their brand of satire laden political rock.
While the event continued after the Axis show, a group of parents (2 to be exact) noticed the Axis of Justice table and surmised that it was a play on George W. Bush’s notion of an “Axis of Evil” and began complaining to the dedicated teachers who put on the event that they were allowing “Anti American” sentiment on the school’s campus. With an uninformed verbal lashing and threats to go to the school board rudely delivered toward the Rubidoux staff coordinators, Axis of Justice took it upon themselves to step out of the event so the students would be allowed to continue what they had worked so hard to start.
The Riverside Famine Fast of 2005 proved many points that are continually manifesting throughout the world today. The first being that small groups of organized people can take on larger social structures and make a difference with solidarity and organization. The second being the hypocrisy associated with freedom of speech in the United States. While the individuals responsible for Axis’s departure from the event were hoping to squash “anti American” sentiment, they really attacked the very fabric of the Constitution by destroying another’s right to think and speak freely. As Noam Chomsky has eloquently stated on many occasions, If you don’t believe in freedom of speech for every one, then you don’t really believe in freedom of speech.
Despite the controversy, and the cancellation of the Axis Sponsored Teach In’s and Q&A forums, the event continued and was completed with a vigil and a well-deserved meal at the conclusion of the day’s events. The students of Rubidoux high school should be commended for setting a profound example of what young people are capable of accomplishing if they put their minds to it.
-GU May 22
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