Disclaimer: Content on the YP4 blog does not necessarily reflect the views of Young People For or People For the American Way Foundation. The views, ideas, statements or claims posted on this site by members of the public cannot in any way be attributed to either Young People For or People For the American Way Foundation.
Majora Carter who is renowned for her visionary leadership in urban environmental activism and founder of Sustainable South Bronx and advisor for Green For All, was one of the Olympic Torch Bearers running the torch in San Francisco... as well as one of the protestors against the Olympic games all in one motion!
On April 8th, a day before the torch relay, the Gothamist quoted her as saying about her participation:
"I'm grateful that I live in a country where you can say things like
this," said Carter, 41, who heads Sustainable South Bronx and is
co-founder of GreenForAll.org, which finds environmentally friendly
jobs for poor people.
"I completely understand the whole controversy about China, but I
just think that we should look at this in the spirit the Games
represent," Carter said. "It's about unity, it's about respect and it's
about reaching across boundaries in the spirit of sportsmanship."
In the same article it mentioned the fellow New Yorkers who participated, former firefighter Richard Doran and former NYPD Officer James Dolan said: "I've seen enough demonstrations in my career. I'm confident the city will be able to make the event go off smoothly."
However, Carter had other plans for her participation the next day.
During her leg of the run, she pulled out a Tibetan Flag hidden in her sleeve and waved it in solidarity with both the protestors and people of Tibet. Immediately, Chinese Officials attempted to seize the flag and the police physically and forcefully pushed from route into the bystanders on the sidewalk. The San Francisco Chronicle has video footage of her removal and immediate reflections afterwards.
Richard Doran later said of Carter's actions: "I think it's disgusting, appalling... It violated every paper we signed about the sanctity of the event."
Not as disgusting and appalling as the recent Lhasa Massacre that went under-reported. And let's not forget that the "sanctity of the event" known as the torch relay is actually a tradition that was started by Nazi Germany by Dr. Carl Diem and at the behest of Adolf Hitler to promote the Nazi ideology of Aryan Supremacy. By the way, the Olympic Rings have Nazi origins, too. In context, Majora Carter's protest against the generations of injustice and oppression against the Tibetan people were more in spirit and purpose of the Olympic games than the torch relay will ever be.
Majora spoke passionately at a nearby rally explaining her actions and the need for more concerted action to raise awareness about and bring justice to Tibet
She also released a formal statement, powerfully connecting the pricniples of justice and action at Dream Reborn rally of last week to Tibetan Liberation:
Only days ago, we commemorated the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. - a man who fought and died for freedom and justice everywhere. It is with that same spirit that I stand before you now. My name is Majora Carter, and I am from the South Bronx, in NYC. It is a part of the world known for some good things like the birthplace of Hip Hop, and for some bad things - like a reputation for crime and urban blight.
What you may not know is that it is a glaring example of environmental injustice here in America, it is a poor Latino and Black community that suffers from severe environmental degradation, causing impacts on our health, wealth and spiritual well-being. But there are places just like the South Bronx all over the world, where decisions about locating environmental burdens like power plants, diesel truck routes, and waste facilities are made by people who will not feel the effects of those decisions. We have been able to make real changes in my community but the battle for environmental justice is far from over.
I was honored to have been asked to be an Olympic torchbearer because it represents to me what the games are about: passing the torch as a symbol of the unity around a great purpose. Today, I carry that flame in support of a great purpose - freedom. Freedom everywhere: the freedom to assemble and, the freedom of speech. I know what it feels like to have your voice ignored; and I appreciate how important it is when another voice joins with your own in pursuit of that freedom.
So, although I have no longstanding connection to Tibet, I would not be able to call myself a drum major for justice if I did not speak my concern for Tibetans inside Tibet who are being persecuted by the Chinese government for expressing their desire for freedom. I want to use this moment to shed light on these subjects; but I also want to shed light on the planned route for the torch through Tibet after it leaves this hemisphere.
To let the Olympic torch run through Tibet would only provoke more opportunities for human rights abuses to happen there. It will not bring people together, but more likely incite them. And even if they resist in the most non-violent manner, we have seen the responses to those types of protests in the past, and can have little doubt that the non-violence will not be reciprocated. It would place the IOC in a position similar to sanctioning the Ku Klux Klan burning a cross in Montgomery, Alabama. Although that freedom is at least protected in this country, it is not something one wants to be associated with.
The IOC must not let its name and stature be used to sanction the repressions of the past and I encourage Coca-Cola and all other sponsors of the torch relay to use their position to push China not to bring the torch through Tibet.
When I pass the flame today, it will be the same flame that Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. have passed on to me, and to all of you. It will be the flame of my ancestors, and all of their struggles. The flame that I pass on to the games in China will be - in its own small way - the flame of liberation, and it will be beautiful, and it will be for everyone.
Update Note: Bay Area resident and fellow torch bearer, Andrew Michael, from his wheelchair made a display of solidarity as well. The pic is powerful!