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They May Never Understand You

by Sudhama Ranganathan Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011 at 7:08 AM
uconnharassment@gmail.com

In any movement there will always be people that will want to harness the energy of that movement or themselves and their own benefit. It is the nature of the beast. It happens everywhere and in so many ways. At times that can be a very good and beneficial thing as there are outside forces that come in and by joining or adding to a movement they strengthen it and give it more momentum. Also people coming in from outside can be just a prelude to folks trying to slide in, insert their faces into a movement and claim themselves to be the leaders. This can have ruinous and disastrous consequences by adding water little by little until the essence has dispersed and whatever additive coloring may be mixed in and the movement's image can be bottled up to be sold elsewhere or quietly dumped down a drain.

They May Never Under...
theymayneverunderstandyou.jpg, image/jpeg, 312x385

Reasons for this can be many. It can be folks feeling they know better, and believing they need to be listened to for the good of everyone else. So in order to force others to be helped they attempt to take control of a movement and attempt to be the ones giving the orders. There are those that are simply used to being in a leadership position. Once they become involved in something it is really difficult for them to just become a part of it, put their ego aside and meld seamlessly.

Something inside themselves prods to manipulate the folks around them so they can get into a position out front. What they might do is be the most vocal, have their faces constantly in front of the camera, start encouraging people to do the things they think are best in overbearing ways, etc. They do this often enough out of a genuine belief they are doing a good thing, whether it is or not.

This may be just a minor annoyance, but it can also be very dangerous to a true movement. It could just be someone that needs to be put in check a little as to how things are, but it can also be someone that will take your movement down a road that will lead to ruin if people aren't aware and conscious of it. It can even happen in areas of life that are not necessarily movements.

In such circumstances it can come down to knowing who to trust and being very careful and aware about people's advice and behavior around you. For instance, when I was at college in a small degree program in Connecticut I experienced discriminatory harassment perpetrated by some professors and some students. It partly had to do with a student protest I had been involved in in my hometown thirteen years prior on another college campus. That protest unfortunately turned violent and police got involved.

When I finally had almost all the harassment I could take with regards to just sucking it up and trying to graduate, I shared as much with another student pretending he was my friend during my senior year. I say pretending partly because he would also get involved in the harassment to my confusion. He would claim it was merely his way of trying to pass and not get kicked out of the major as that was how the professors involved in the harassment got those that were neutral about me or were against the harassment to either stay out of it or even participate to a limited extent.

So his excuse did make some sense. I did not want him or anyone else ruining their futures on my behalf, wherein they ended up flunking out or being kicked out while I stayed in. It didn't seem fair. So while it angered me to some extent I also understood that position and tried to remain compassionate about it.

However, in the first semester of senior year when I was feeling ready to report the activity, I mentioned my intention to this student. I felt he would understand for a number of reasons. First, like me he was a person of color and we talked in private about some of the racist insinuations thrown my way and how we both felt it was wrong. Second, he was a non-traditional student and might sympathize with me that way also. Third, he had somehow worked his way to the position of president of the Latino fraternity he was a member of, and he was a prominent member of the Latino student cultural center.

The last part always struck me as odd for a number of reasons. First, he had been on campus for eight years getting kicked on and off according to him. The idea he became president of that frat was strange. Secondly, he was still struggling academically and didn't even seem to care. Not exactly the best role model for freshmen. But, I figured people had their reasons and I wasn't going to judge him, it just seemed odd. I should have listened to my suspicions.

When I shared my desire to report the harassment and perhaps take things higher, like maybe court, media etc, his face turned red and he started trying to tell me all the reasons it would fail. He kept his composure and wasn't dropping his eating utensils or anything (we were at lunch) but he kept trying. In fact he tried to dissuade me from even reporting it within the school. That really set off red flags and alarm bells within me, as it was coming from the president of the main Latin fraternity on campus. As such he may have been the most visible Latino student on campus and that frat was always participating in some demonstration or another.

He didn't even suggest it would be a good idea to report it within the school system. I didn't know why it was setting off alarm bells within me, but it was. I mean the whole thing was odd and I didn't understand exactly where it was all coming from, or even how the professors were aware of my minor involvement in a an incident from back in 1990 when I thought about it. I started school in the program in question in 2003. After his repeated attempts to dissuade me and my continued persistence he dropped it on me.

He told me he was undercover law enforcement and had been on campus for eight years. Then it started to make sense. Things started to click. Some of my paranoia regarding everything going on was justified and it didn't stop there.

He explained he was revealing his identity because if I complained and it got big, his operations on campus over the last eight years would be exposed potentially. He knew I had taken some video of some of the harassment and caught some of it on tape. He was on some of the tapes. He knew that.

He then further revealed that another student named Vivian was also undercover law enforcement, and that, though he was retiring from undercover campus work, she planned to go on to another school. Previous to attending the school we were in, Vivian, came from another college in NY, NY. She was also on the tape he knew of, and if I went to the media or brought a court case or both, it might expose her operations also, and thus potentially end her career as an undercover operative.

The student protest I had been involved in 1990 was regarding minority rights and he and I had discussed such issues. He obviously knew I no longer was involved or interested in being involved politically in minority issues at that time. I still cared, but my days of activism started in 1990 and ended then. I could tell he probably believed that also. However, he assumed that because Vivian and he were minorities I would just allow myself to be harassed and for the behavior, which had already crossed over the line into criminal behavior on more than one occasion, to continue. He made a miscalculation.

Sure I was no longer an activist and didn't even know any. But, that didn't mean I didn't have my limit as far as being harassed and deciding to report it. I wasn't planning revenge, protests or picketing, just legal action and reporting it formally. The fact he was law enforcement, Vivian was law enforcement and, as he was to confirm later, others were also, only made me feel more violated. It's one thing for one or two rogue professors and thick skulled students to do it, but law enforcement? They were orchestrating it and organizing it!

Further, he had infiltrated the most prominent Latino fraternity and not only pledged and become a member, but had become the president. He was not only a member watching and taking notes on what was going on, but was actually the guy that told everybody else in the organization what to do. Law enforcement. Talk about government intrusion!!!

I relate this story because here was an example of a person that thought he knew best. By going to the authorities and reporting the harassment obviously I was doing nothing illegal and was doing the best thing I could do for myself. If law enforcement had overstepped its bounds and broken the laws with its activities on the campus I was attending, it was not illegal for me to report it regardless of whether or not it threatened to expose their illegal activities. But, because he was law enforcement he felt he needed to tell me what to do; that it would be best for me to do things that were obviously not in my best interest. Just his and his idea of what was best.

For law enforcement to illegally and in an undercover capacity take over the Latino fraternity and tell them what to do and what not to do, was also illegal and not in their best interests either. Obviously he had convinced himself he knew better, he convinced himself he knew what was right for them. But what the fraternity had their rights violated like many of the Wall Street protesters by law enforcement, and he felt them going to the media would expose him, and so convinced them not to?

Who's best interests would that be in? He would of course believe in his mind he was doing what's best, but it can only benefit those outside of the fraternity, and so runs counter to what may actually be in the best interests of the people and/or groups. The person's name BTW was Ed.

Now, like my situation with Ed, when there is a movement like the current 99% fueled Occupy Wall Street, there will be folks trying to come in and take command and control. They will have their own agendas and believe their agendas are best for everybody. In their minds they are doing what's right but they don't get it. I have seen political party reps from both sides trying to purport to understand on mainstream media feeds, interviews and clips. I have seen famous multi-millionaire music moguls trying to be the faces. They want to align themselves and say they get it.

They may mean well in their hearts. They want to take over because they feel they are right. They don't want bad photos and media feeds because of how it might reflect on their candidates of choice, etc.

But, remember what got the nation behind the movements of the 60's. It was those photos. It was the willingness to show true feelings in a non-violent manner. It was the clips and footage that moved the nation to pay attention. It was the peaceful activism and the shots of how the justice system was not as peaceful as it purported to be. How it wanted them to shut up by any means necessary.

So, be dragged away if need be, but non-violently go limp and peacefully refuse to leave. And when you get out, go back. Phony people will in all likelihood attempt to shift the movement and momentum into their political camp and advantage, and already are. They will say “they are me, that's what I'm saying.” But they all sold us out. They all let us down. They all refused to hold Wall Street accountable. They all gave them the money. They all are continuing the conflicts for oil, lithium, etc. Was that the hope we asked for?

They are all allowing New Orleans to fester while Wall Street and all the million dollar/billion dollar industries that rely on them and are tied to them are wealthier than ever taking bets on when Greece will fail, etc. This, after they purposely helped them fail.(http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/14/business/global/14debt.html?pagewanted=all)

Being free to conduct business is absolutely necessary, but getting so big that if you fail you drag the nation with you is another thing entirely. Some of them are even bigger now than before. Yet they still get invited to White House dinners and events for both parties on our dime nonetheless. Our issues have not been addressed. Those in the 1% that rely on the status quo to keep their lifestyles may never understand how we feel.

They may be able to intellectualize our frustrations, fears and disappointment at being sold on hope and handed heartbreak, but they may never fully understand it. While we go back to insecurity at the end of the day, they go back to lifestyles wholly dependent on there being a 99% and a 1%. That's true of most of them no matter what they say, though we still love them. They can't understand. It's life or death to us. To most of them, it's a fad and hip – though not all of them.

For certain of them, they may even be able to make a few more million of of it. Again, no matter how hard they try they may never understand. They just want to tap into people that are all tapped out. They're missing it by miles. People have taken hope and change into their own hands. It's the future of America that's at stake, not parlaying suffering into a few more million or soft drink endorsements.

While supporting and welcoming all supporters, make sure to be wary of people like Ed. Be supportive of their support. But know when to put a firm loving hand on their shoulder and let them know, this is not about them, it's not about the 1%, and they can blend in, but the direction has taken off and people with contrary agendas are better off leaving folks alone, that is if they truly care. Then you'll learn how sincere they really are. The best thing for us, the 99% to do now is to keep it 99% pure, and all others can get a tent, get some comfortable clothes and blend in. It's the peaceful love and the non-violent spirit that are needed now most of all. Let's overcome what all the politicians refused to. Fight, fight, fight peacefully and don’t back down!!!!

To read about my inspiration for this article go to www.lawsuitagainstuconn.com.

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