Rachel Ida Buff teaches history and comparative ethnic studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is an active member of both the UWM AAUP and Jewish Voice for Peace. She blogs at atlasofadifficult.wordpress.com and is completing a novel.
Symbols and slogans take on meaning precisely because they are charged with the weight of fraught, painful, and contradictory pasts. They mean different things to different people. Respecting the power of these collisions constitutes both political good sense and common decency.
With festivities staged in rickety shelters open to the sky, Sukkot seemed to us like an ideal time to honor the situation of the almost 70 million refugees worldwide who sleep every night in these kinds of dwellings. In a state that has refused to accept any refugees from an escalating Syrian civil war, we hoped to use the holiday to jumpstart our solidarity with these displaced people.
Rachel Ida Buff reflects on Unetaneh tokef over a missing family cat.
Nonviolent protest and civil disobedience -- including boycotts -- were as controversial in the 1960s as they are in our current time.
But maybe that’s a false dichotomy: maybe the kinds of global connections created by popular music, by Prince specifically, can also link us to struggles for justice. Popular music provides an index of sound and memory. It is intensely personal, but also widely shared. And maybe this sharing is revolutionary: bread and roses, Prince and The Revolution.
Millions of dollars in public education were slashed from the CUNY budget -- reflecting an alliance of McCarthyite pro-Israel and Republican interests.