The Power of Protest
There is power in numbers. When people come together for a cause against a certain injustice, the perpetrators of the injustice are more likely to give in to their demands. Often, protests do come with consequences such as vandalism or destruction. Many protests have an insight to a certain change intended to be for the better of the people. Many achievements are made through protests where people unite and stand together under all circumstances to air their views to the leaders or the authority served with the issue at hand. For instance, many acts have been enacted out of protests from the public over a certain unfair treatment such as racism, or gender equality. The purpose of a protest could be varied, but all are centered on airing the views of those oppressed in an issue.
“A half-century ago, Berkeley’s protest movement revolved around racial equality, free speech and, later, opposition to the Vietnam War,” (Gollan 2011). Today, the University of California, Berkeley has a right to freedom of speech and activism that was achieved in the 1960 protest when a student stood on top of a police car to address demonstrators. Since then, the university has always advocated for freedom of speech and activism. From this protest, there were achievements such as freedom of speech, where students could air their views concerning issues. An example is the recent protest where students aired their concerns about cutting budgets on higher education as well as the war in Southeast Asia (Cai 25). Protests are meant to raise concerns and change some issues that affect the people. They tell the authorities that a certain issue is not welcome by the people; or better still, that people are making a demand for their rights.
Higher education is one of the issues that the University of California, Berkeley, was protesting against. Higher education is quite expensive, and cutting its budget means extending the costs to the people. Not all people could afford it; hence, some will be left out despite qualifying for higher education. Education level at current standing is a key determinant to earnings that one can claim after the end of the financial year. Therefore, blocking the poor from airing higher education will contribute largely in widening the gap between the poor and the rich. Though race and gender do play a role in the amount of earning a person gets, education plays a higher role in the same. “Your level of education has more of an effect on your salary than your race, gender, ethnicity, citizenship, English-speaking ability or location,” (Gordon, 4). This means that people with professional degrees earn a higher salary compared to people with just a bachelor’s degree or a high school diploma.
From a statistic by the United States census bureau, it is evident that having a higher degree determines your salary for the rest of your life. Hence, it is worth the money you pay for. For instance, while a high school dropout earns around $20,000 a year for almost the rest of his life or at 60 years of age, a person with a professional degree will earn around $103, 000 at the same age (Gordon 6). When the salaries are evaluated in terms of gender, it is evident that men will earn relatively higher than their female counterparts will. In terms of race, white people will earn higher than other races. A Hispanic woman with just a high school education will earn about 60% of what a white man in the same education level will earn. However, for a Hispanic woman with a professional degree will earn just 49% of what a white man with the same education earns (Coelho & Lieres 43). This is to mean that education plays a bigger role in determining salary than race and gender.
When people think about protests, there are many thoughts that come to mind concerning the world. Many will perceive the world to be a place of struggle for the ordinary people to get their justice from the authorities. This is because all protests are directed towards the authority or leaders. Many people will think the world is no place for the weak, and only the fit survive, hence protests are the only way to have justice. Majority of protests are usually concerned with fighting for justice or rights that have been violated by those in power. In china, protests are recognized as a viable means of resistance against the government, aimed at influencing the government to change some policies (Cai, 25). When people talk about protests, people identify the world as a place where the people are oppressed and have to fight for their rights. In China, such protests probably would not be there if everything were okay with the people. Protests change people’s perspective of the world distinctively; evoking them to feel that without them there can be no justice. Such changes in our thinking have changed the world for the better where people do not sit back and accept oppression, but choose to fight for justice.
Currently, protests have emerged as a way of influencing changes in a country. There has been a rise in activist movements that hold protests advocating for changes in the policies that do not favor the majority. This has led people to change their view concerning the world, believing that the world is a place where everybody has a right to say what they want. Many people embrace such groups to act towards influencing change for the better of the people. For instance, some groups rise to advocate for amendments in some acts in the law or constitution if it does not favor them. “The sixties are considered the years of radicalization from the emergence of many activist groups and institutionalization all over the world to fight against colonialism, racism authoritative rule and violence,” (Jones & O’Donnell 227). In this decade, very few countries had democracy, and many African countries were under colonization. The emergence of such groups influenced people all over the world to fight for their rights. This changed peoples’ thoughts about protests when they realized they could be successful. This achieved a positive change, where people realized that through protests democracy could be realized.
People’s perspectives concerning the world have been changed from the success of protests. People have realized that they have the power to influence the authority, to resist harsh rules or unfair treatment. Many people, ranging from ordinary citizens to senior ones, have realized that despite much influence, they have a say from a majority group. This has led to increased awareness of people’s rights, evoking them to fight for democracy through protests. People now believe that institutions and governments exist for them, and not the vice-versa. According to Coelho and Lieres, ordinary people from rural to urban and other organizations have managed to mobilize and deepen democracy (45). This has brought a change of having a freedom of expression, and no body deserves mistreatment. This king of change is quite positive for the world considering it empowers people to believe that they have a right to say what they feel is right. This has led to increased democracy, in areas that were much hit by lack of democracy especially in Africa.
Other people may view the world as a place with moral injustice when they think about protests. This could be from the violence they see during protests, where many die, fighting for what they claim to be right (The New York Times, 25). This may make such people accept the way things are despite being oppressed because they do not think that protests can be peaceful. In some countries, very few people would be willing to protest for fear of police brutality, which has been seen in many countries over the past years. However, as democracy increases because of activist groups and protests, such issues are reducing day by day and people are learning that peaceful protests achieve more. “Any authoritarian power can be shamed, discomfited, made to change course and ultimately overthrown if “people power” and shrewd tactics are combined,” (The Economist 50). This is to mean that all authoritative powers can have their course changed by a united people. This has made people realize that there is power in unity, considering that governments are for people. Such changes are extremely crucial for liberating oppressed people.
Protests have risen in the last century to liberate people from oppression. Among all the protests known, people have always united against a certain oppression, policy, or rule. The success of protests has managed to evoke positive change among them being democracy, which is most important. However, having to fight for such issues through protests is a sign that the institutions in charge of the issue have neglected the requests of its people; hence, they have to result to protests. Therefore, when people think about protests, they see a world that is full of oppressors and the oppressed where the oppressed have to fight to be recognized, and to have their right. This has had a positive impact in the world where all people across all nations are fighting for democracy and abolishing authoritarian rule.
Cai, Yongshun. Collective resistance in China: why popular protests succeed or fail. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2010. Print.
Coelho, Vera and Lieres, Bettina. Mobilizing for Democracy: Citizen Action and the Politics of Public Participation. New York NY: Zed Books, 2010. Print.
Gordon, Claire. Race And Gender Have Huge Impact On Income, But Not As Much As Education. jobs.aol.com, November 17, 2011. Web. November 24, 2011.
Jones, Bryn, and Mike O’Donnell. Sixties Radicalism and Social Movement Activism: Retreat or Resurgence? London: Anthem Press, 2010. Print.
The Economist. “Non-violent Protest-They Shall Overcome.” Economist London Economist Newspaper Limited. (2007): 50. Print.
The New York Times. “Berkeley Crackdown Raises Fear of Move Backward” The New York Times, 18 November 2011: 25. Print.
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