Thursday, April 24, 2008

Divest Now, Ask Me How

Part Two of my Criminal Past, A TRUE STORY:

Back in the day I was in college and livin’ the dorm life. One lovely late spring day I was heading outside with some gal pals for a little sun on the lawn in front of the dorm – wearing a swimsuit, shorts and flip flops. (To those who know me now, this was before I was mortified at the prospect of swim apparel in public…ahh, the beauty of insouciant youth.) As I was heading out the doors, a protest march came down the road, with about 150 people chanting about divesting University funds from South African investment. (The chant was a little more catchy than that, but my memory fails me.)

Maybe it was my liberal upbringing. Maybe it was because I was profoundly moved by the plight of those living in apartheid. Maybe I just wanted to get some sun and see what was up. At any rate, I joined right in. We marched across campus to the Endowment Building. People started holding hands, and singing, blocking the doors. Now at this point, many of the crowd kind of fell away, supporting those who chose to get arrested but not foolish enough to actually do it. Not this li’l protester – no, sir! I joined hands and promptly got arrested for trespass and blocking access to a state building. I was cuffed and taken to a holding cell in the County Jail. For 5 hours. In a bathing suit.

Weeks later I offered a plea of ‘no contest’ and served 5 hours of community service to get my record expunged. Bowing to pressure, the university divested all funds from South Africa two years later.

“Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will.” Frederick Douglass, a bad-*ss if there ever was one.

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