The Visible Resistance: Disrupting Narratives Through Persistent Presence

This story may not be big or unique, but it is beautiful, powerful, and ordinary. Sometimes, I think about how much is hidden in the ordinariness of things, something remarkable. At a recent Palestine protest I attended on ND campus, a student speaker shared why she wears a Kuffiyeh to school every day. She wants people to see her, to see the Kuffiyeh, and for those who don’t know what it is, to think about it or ask her. For those who do, they might talk about it, even if just for a minute. And for those who don’t believe in the Palestinian struggle, it hits them right in the face, showing them the symbol they despise because they are enablers of this ongoing violence. It’s ordinary, but beautiful and powerful, right?

It has been since October last year, and we have been scrolling, sharing, reposting, and doing other things. But what do we do now? When we scroll through posts and stories about what’s happening in Gaza, it’s easy to feel helpless and hurt. It triggers me and many others. We end up feeling powerless and trying to avoid it all. Every little thing becomes a trigger, and you can’t function. But does that mean we stop? Do we just get into these ideas of “self-care”? Don’t get me wrong, I am all for it, but not right now. These ideas, often disguised as “prioritizing mental health,” serve as a convenient excuse to disengage from the struggles of others, particularly those facing the unimaginable horrors of this ongoing genocide. These ideas are rooted in the very structures of capitalism and colonialism that have perpetuated this oppression for centuries. By centering our own experiences and prioritizing our comfort, we risk perpetuating the very systems of oppression we claim to stand against.

I think true well-being cannot exist in a vacuum. It is and should be linked to the well-being of others, and when faced with the reality of genocide, we have a moral obligation to put our privilege and comfort aside. So, this student’s decision to wear a Kuffiyeh to school every day is so powerful and shows how small acts of resistance are remarkable. Right now, Palestinians are being rendered invisible, and their suffering is absolutely unspeakable. The simple act of wearing a symbol of Palestinian identity makes the issue visible and impossible to ignore, especially if those spaces are ignorant American schools. This visibility is critical because it challenges their dominant narrative that seeks to erase Palestinian existence and delegitimize their claims to their land and human rights. By keeping Palestine at the forefront of people’s minds, the student actively resists the forces of oppression that would have us believe that the genocide of an entire people is not our concern. The online landscape is saturated with images and information, and it’s easy for vital issues to get lost in the noise. But by consistently and proudly displaying a symbol of Palestinian resistance, this student creates a visual disruption that demands attention and engagement, all while simply attending classes and going about her daily life.

She also shared a story about a man who stood outside the White House every night during the Vietnam War, holding a candle in solitary protest. When asked if he believed his actions would change the country’s policies, he replied, “I don’t do this to change the country. I do this so the country won’t change me.” This raises a crucial question for everyone: if we stop sharing and talking about things because they “trigger” us, are we not allowing ourselves to be changed by the very systems we claim to oppose? What will it be? Do we keep speaking up, or do we give in to the idea that we should just look out for ourselves? In the end, who is really changing – us or them?

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